Introduction of Akita Seishu Sake Brewery
History and background
In 1865, our company “Yamato-shuzouten” was founded in the area of Minaminaraoka（currently Daisen-city) in Akita prefecture by Ito Juushiro, the 12th head of the Ito Family.
During this era Japan started to open up the country: It was the dawning of a new era. The Ito Family moved from the Kansai area to the Tohoku area, and as landowners became involved in representing the region via agriculture. It was Juushiro who established a brewery using high quality local rice.
Ito Kyonosuke, the 13th head of the Ito Family, took over the business and put Yamatoshuzouten into commercial use in 1913. Honoring the Toji’s (Master Brewer) desire to brew exceptional sake, the Ito family renamed their company “Dewatsuru” –or “crane of the Dewa Region”—in order to convey the elegance of its products.
The historical building of Kariho Brewery was established in 1850 in a neighboring village. The brewery is constructed along the Omono River which was used as a center of water transportation.
The years passed, and in 1913, Ito Kyonosuke took over this brewery, to start another sake business with colleagues. This was the beginning of Kariho Brewery. The sake was named Kariho based on the Waka(traditional Japanese poetry) which was written by the Tenchi Emperor. This Waka shows respect for the farmers who work hard to cultivate the rice fields. This has a deep meaning for all sake producers.
Within the two breweries ‘Dewatsuru’ and ‘Kariho’, Akita Seishu produces top quality sake. It’s main brands are ‘Yamatoshizuku’, ‘Dewatsuru’ and ‘Kariho’.
The brand name Yamatoshizuku originated from “Yamato Brewery” which was the first company name on the date of establishment in 1865. “Yamato” is the trade name of the Ito family, and in the brewery, there are still trademarks of “Yamato” everywhere. Now, 150 years on, we still work with the same spirit as the brewery founders all those years ago. Our philosophy is to brew original and extremely local sake by only using particular local rice and water from within a 10km radius.
Rice being farmed
The characteristic of sake rice used for Yamatoshizuku brewing is that it must be rice grown within a 10 km radius of our brewery. This is because from the day of establishment in 1865, the use of local sake rice has been one of our most important concepts.
Water source in the mountains
Going deep into the mountains, our water source comes from a spring. About 15 million years ago, this area was at the bottom of the sea. Due to that the water is special, because it contains more minerals than other sources.
Rice for Dewatsuru
The process of brewing our sake begins from the cultivation of high quality rice by the Toji (Master Brewer) and Kurabito (brewery workers). Making use of the rich soil of the region, brewery workers along with local farmers continue to produce high quality rice and cultivate their skills through the organization of a “Sake Rice Organization.”
Water source for Dewatsuru
One of the important aspects of brewing sake is the quality of water. Our water comes from natural aquifers near Dewa Hill. The clear, light taste of this water is one of the characteristics of Dewatsuru.
Our Guiding Principle
Framed on the wall of the Dewatsuru Brewery break room, you can find our motto: “Good harmony makes good sake.” The teamwork of our Kurabito (brewery workers) and our pride in craftsmanship make it possible for us to produce high quality sake. We share these qualities with our customers.
Watersource for Kariho
Our water comes from natural aquifers from the Ou mountains. It infiltrates the gravel layer, so water is abundant the whole year. It contains minerals which keep the fermentation process for sake well on track.
The Kariho brand is characterized by its traditional yamahai brewing method. In this method the sake is kept fermenting for as long as 60 days at a low temperature. The use of naturally-produced lactic acid and yeast cells creates a silky taste and various flavor components. The taste of yamahai-style sake excels in bringing out the flavor of other dishes. Yamahai sake is also brewed with natural yeast that comes from our brewery.
The last step of Brewing is the traditional way of pressing which is called Sakafune Shibori. Kariho Brewery has 6 “Sakafune(ships)” to press sake which is very rare nowadays. Sakafune Shibori is time consuming and takes up a lot of energy, and because of that there are only a few brewers who actually use this process for all products. It takes 2 days of pressing to make well balanced, well matured, strong sake which is characteristic of Kariho Brewery.