Introduction of Kaba Shuzo (Kaba Sake Brewery)




Brewery main building

Kaba Shuzo is a long-established sake brewery that has been making local sake in Hida for over 300 years. The blessings of Hida's abundant water and the manufacturing method using "Hidahomare" sake rice, which is nurtured by the harsh climate, are the secrets to producing Hida's rich local sake. The representative brand "Shiramayumi" is derived from a "makurakotoba"(pillow word; decorative word used prefixally in classical Japanese literature) and ‘decorates’ Hida as a proudly established Hida sake.

In addition, the main building and other buildings are designated as nationally registered tangible cultural properties, and the Bunko warehouse, the white-walled storehouse along the Seto River, plays a part in the landscape that symbolizes Hida Furukawa.

 

History and background

"Shiramayumi" is a rich and tasty brew that is loved by locals and other sake lovers all over the country. It has received awards at numerous competitions and is now known as the representative sake of Hida Furukawa.


Founding and growth

About 300 years ago, in the first year of Hoei (1704), Mr. Toyasu Kaba started his business in Hida Furukawa. At the time, the 5th Shogun Tsunayoshi Tokugawa ruled.

At that point, the Hoei Earthquake occurred in Hoei year 4 (1707). A large eruption also occurred on the side of Mt. Fuji, causing great damage from off the coast of Tokaido to off the coast of Nankai. In addition, a great famine broke out in Hida due to the impact of this great earthquake. Toyasu went to Etchu (currently Toyama Prefecture), where he was trading to collect food and buying rice for the people of Hida Furukawa.

However, Toyasu was later stranded at the border and banned from taking out the rice. He begged the officials, "I don’t care if I am detained, but please bring the rice to Hida."

It is said that the magistrate who heard this story was so impressed by the ambition of Toyasu, he said, "Only the first generation of Toyasu will be allowed the freedom of trade with Etchu." Thanks to that, Toyasu's business prospered and he was able to build a fortune.

Based on these foundations left by Toyasu, sake brewing began and Shiramayumi was born.

Around 1938, photo includes the then teenaged head of the company and their master brewer


Origin of the name of Shiramayumi

The origin of the name Shiramayumi is derived from the pillow word (decorative word used prefixally in classical Japanese literature) for Hida in "Shiramayumi hida no hosoe no sugadori no imo ni kofurekai wo nekane tsuru" (Volume 12) in Manyoshu (historical collection of poems). In addition, it is said that Hida may have been affixed with the name Shiramayumi because of the native Mayumi tree.

Since the conception of Shiramayumi, the face of the Kaba Sake Brewery, we have been making sake for generations. In addition to maintaining these traditions of sake brewing, the company inherited the spirit of Toyasu, who tried to send rice to his starving village at the expense of himself, and continue to give back to the community with the moral of the story, "profit should be accepted but not greedily coveted." 

Proudly displayed family motto

Next to sake brewing, contributing to society and the community is an important mission of our brewery. With that in mind, we would like to become a brewery that is loved by everyone and continue to make the famous sake, Shiramayumi.




Kaba Brewery’s essential ingredients


Hida's "Hidahomare" rice 

Hidahomare rice

Hida Homare was developed over a period of about 10 years at the High Cold Region Agricultural Experiment Station in Hida Furukawa, in response to the wishes of sake brewers and farmers who wanted to make rice that was especially suitable for sake brewing. Since it began to appear on the market in the latter half of the 1965's, it has been going through a continuous process to improve its quality, and it has become the representative sake rice of Hida.

We think that there are many people who do not know "Hidahomare" even though it is the representative sake rice of Hida. "Hidahomare" accounts for only 1% of the total production of rice suitable for sake brewing nationwide, and it is still unknown compared to the famous "Yamada Nishiki". This is not surprising as the only region that produces "Hidahomare" is the Hida region in Gifu prefecture, and only Gifu prefecture breweries can make sake using it.

"Hidahomare" has a large starch quality required for sake brewing, and even if the whitening ratio is as low as 60%, a sake with sufficient umami can be produced. Also, by making “kouji” (malted rice, a sake ‘starter’), you can make an even lighter sake.

This is perfect for the concept of our Kaba Sake Brewery, which aims to "brew umami sake." 


Water from the Japanese Alps

Alpine water

The mountains of the Northern Alps provide a magnificent and unchanging scenery. The people who live in Hida spend their days protected, healed, and encouraged by this mountain range. Pure water springs from the beautiful Northern Alps. This clear underground water is used for Shiramayumi.

Japanese Alps

The water in the Northern Alps is soft water. Twenty-seven years ago, when our chief brewer Mr. Fujii first tried this water, he instinctively thought, "This can be used to make good sake."

The water of the Northern Alps is indispensable for the brewing of Shiramayumi, which has a rich and sharp umami taste.


Hida's climate

Winter in Hida

Hida's climate is vital for good sake brewing.

A gorgeous spring with pretty flowers all over, a refreshing summer with dazzling fresh greenery, a beautiful autumn with golden rice ears swaying in the wind, and a quiet winter surrounded by cotton-colored snow. Hida's four seasons provide the best conditions indispensable for brewing amazing sake.

Especially in the middle of winter, the brewing is in full swing. At Kaba Sake Brewery, sake is brewed in the white wall warehouse that has been used for generations since the Meiji era. Even if the temperature outside is below freezing, the temperature inside the “dozo” (warehouse) is higher than the outside temperature, which is almost constant at 7-8 ° C.

This low temperature is important for making koji and brewing sake, and is especially suitable for making Shiramayumi.

The iconic warehouses in Hida

The climate and water brought about by nature, the fine sake rice, and the wonderful wisdom of our predecessors are irreplaceable treasures to Kaba Sake Brewery. While valuing these blessings, we will continue to make delicious sake!

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