Japanese Sake Series: Sake Mochida Sake Brewery
Today’s Sake Mochida
Sake Mochida Brewery is brewed in Izumo, said to be the birthplace of sake. This article covers its history and brewing methods.
The city of Izumo is said to be the hometown of gods, and it is here that the eight million gods from all over the country gather in the tenth month of the lunar calendar (October). In Japanese, the tenth month is called “Kannazuki”, meaning ‘a month without gods’. But since they gather in Izumo, this is the one place that becomes the opposite, “Kamiarizuki” (a month with gods).
On the outskirts of the town is a large shrine (Oyashiro) dedicated to the god of brewing: Izumo Matsuo Shrine, also known as Saka Shrine. The Engishiki (ancient book of laws and regulations), local literature and songs often mention Saka Shrine. It is said that the word 'saka' was transformed into 'sake', and Izumo is thus said to be the birthplace of sake. It is also said that it was this Saka shrine where the gods gathered and held a 180-day banquet when the Izumo Taisha (main shrine in Izumo) was built. Blessed by the presence of the Saka shrine, Sake Mochida has inherited 140 years of skills from Izumo’s master brewers.
Using the skills of Izumo master brewers, the brewery polishes sake rice produced in Shimane Prefecture and hand-makes its koji (sake starter) to create delicious sake, Masamune Yamasan.
History and background of Sake Mochida
Outside Sake Mochida
The sake brewery is located on a street called Cotton Road. The old townscape remains, and five buildings such as the main building, sake brewery, and inspection station were designated as national registered cultural properties in 2017.
The brewery was founded by the Mochida family in the 10th year of the Meiji era (1877 AD). Researching and applying the methods that best worked through theory and experiment, the brewery’s goal was to create widely popular sake. Eventually, the eldest son of the 4th generation of the founder’s family introduced a new type of quick brewing method. The brewery even set up a "Izumo Kokushu Brewery Experiment Station", inviting engineers from the Hiroshima Tax Inspection Bureau (currently the Hiroshima National Tax Bureau) and a master brewer from Hyogo/Nada. It is said that this thoroughness attracted a great deal of attention from industry tradesmen at that time.
In 1918, at its height of production, the brewery was producing 1572 ‘koku’ (283 kiloliters). Its annual tax payment was about 33,000 yen, showing that it was one of the top brewing companies by sheer volume in the San'in region at that time.
Inspiring surroundings of Izumo
Together with its traditional Izumo master brewers, Sake Mochida developed Daiginjo Sake, Ginjo Sake, the low-alcohol Junmai Ginjo "Yume Shikibu", and Junmaishu (sake without added alcohol or sugar).
Since then, it has continued to experiment and innovate to create new and delicious sake. We invite you to try the brewery’s products made with the combination of skill, experience and sensibility.