Introduction of Tenzan Shuzo (Tenzan Sake Brewery)
Tenzan Shuzo’s sake
In 1861, a milling and noodle business was established at the current location – Iwakura, Ogi-machi, Ogi, Saga prefecture (Gion riverbank). The root of our company is water milling. Using the stream of clear water from the Gion river, a milling business was established first, and then the milling and noodle business in 1861. The owners, the Shichida’s, regularly dealt with local sake brewers, milling their sake rice.
In 1875, Toshizo Shichida and his wife Tsuki were asked by a local brewery owner to purchase not only all his brewing equipment, but also his brewery which was closing down. As a result, he became the first brewery Kuramoto (brewery owner) of what is now Tenzan Shuzo. A rumour spread that the Shichida’s would even start a sake brewery, and he really ended up starting the business. The noodle business was run with the best manufacturing facilities in the early – mid 20th century, but it came to an end in the 1960s.
Entrance of the noodle factory
In 1936, the second Kuramoto (brewery owner), Hideichi Shichida (the first Hideichi), established a general partnership, Shichida Honten. He was also extremely knowledgeable about architecture, and had his own (non-profit) lumbermill and hired carpenters, plasterers and tinners. He built not only the brewery but also Ganzoji temple and schools in the local area. The brewery’s “Meiji cellar”, “Taisho cellar”, “Showa cellar” and “Vertical water wheel” and its water channels, have been designated as Registered National Tangible Cultural Properties and also acknowledged as Saga Prefectural Heritage. The impressive cellars are still in use.
In 1959, the third Kuramoto (brewery owner), Hideichi Shichida (succeeded to this name) reorganised as Tenzan Sake Brewery, Inc. He had a great knowledge of agriculture. Not only did he study sake rice but he also dreamed about the restoration of regional agriculture after World War II. He aimed at creating leaders for farmers, and established an agricultural university at his own expense in 1946.
His passion for agriculture with his agricultural management and the establishment of a university was made use of in sake brewing. He managed the business selecting ingredients of his choice and cultivated one of the most suitable sake rice types of that period, called “Omachi”, in his own field.
The fourth Kuramoto (brewery owner), Tadao Shichida achieved the maintenance of the rice milling equipment, changed the size of the preparation tanks and modernized the bottling process. He was also ahead of the times and brewed Junmai sake (called additive-free sake) which was unknown at that time and worked on “activities for the promotion of Junmai sake” as a member of the Japan Junmaishu Association.
The spirit of “attention to detail” has been passed from generation to generation as part of the Tenzan DNA. For “quality first brewing”, the cultivation of sake rice as a raw ingredient and the study groups held with contracted farmers help to ensure product quality has improved many times over the years. “Brewing starts from rice producing” is the “being eternal” part of the fifth Kuramoto (owner from 1976 – November 2009), Toshihide Shichida’s management philosophy, namely “to integrate new things whilst being eternal”.
The sixth and current Kuramoto (brewery owner) is Kensuke Shichida. For further quality improvement, he introduced the latest filling line in November 2015. The Italian monoblock filling machine can prevent oxidation by injecting nitrogen gas which reduces oxygen inside the bottle when filling and capping. He has also propelled the development of world-class sparkling sake. In the Japan Awasake Association, Kensuke Shichida acts as a director and has been working on new product development and promotional activities.
Tenzan Brewery’s essential ingredients
Gion River is a clear stream flowing by the sake brewery from the Tenzan mountain ranges. It is one of Japan’s prominent rivers for Genji fireflies. Moreover, “Kiyomizu waterfall”, the subterranean clear waterfall, has been selected as one of the 100 “exquisite waters” in Japan and is the essential “treasure water” for brewing at Tenzan Sake Brewery.
This water is a medium hard water and contains no iron, but lots of minerals such as calcium and magnesium. It is the ideal water for sake brewing.
90% of rice used for brewing sake at Tenzan Sake Brewery is produced in Saga Prefecture. Mainly ‘Yamadanishiki’ and ‘Saga no Hana’ are used.
To brew good sake requires good rice. We thought that we needed to be involved in its production and established the “Tenzan Sake Rice Cultivation Study Group”.
Tenzan Shuzo’s team
Tenzan Shuzo’s company motto is: to take on contemporary challenges in the spirit of our predecessors
Sake brewing “to integrate new things while being eternal”.