Introduction of Kikusui Shuzo (Kikusui Sake Brewery)

Kikusui Brewery complex

The name “Kikusui” derives from Traditional Japanese Performing Art. The name is made of two words – kiku, which means “chrysanthemum,” and sui, which means “water.”

In Japan, there is a traditional performing art known as Noh. In one Noh play, called ‘Kikujido’, there is a character, a mountain hermit, who drank the dew that had collected on the leaves of a chrysanthemum plant, and lived to be 700 years old. The water of the chrysanthemum gives perpetual youth and longevity, and it was from this that the Sake brand, “Kikusui,” was born.

History and background

History of Kikusui

The majority of Sake breweries in Japan were started by local landlords, people with money and privilege. However, the founders of Kikusui, the Takasawa family, were only a branch family and never held such a position of privilege. Despite that, they were granted a license to produce and sell Sake. Founded in 1881, a relatively young brewery, Kikusui is still run by the same family under the current 5th generation President. Over the years Kikusui has endured many trials including securing rice for brewing, labour shortages and drops in sales in the harsh post-war years.

Inside the brewery

However, the biggest challenges came in the form of the Niigata Earthquake in 1964 then the Kaetsu Flood of 1966 and 1967 where for two consecutive years the brewery was destroyed and washed away. Even in the face of such adversity, Kikusui has always remained committed to the pursuit of producing the highest quality Sake which people can enjoy drinking. As drinking preferences change over time, so is Kikusui developing new yet still high quality, affordable and easy to drink products to meet the new needs. From humble beginnings Kikusui has remained true to their vision of creating Sake that can be enjoyed by more and more people.

Kikusui Brewery’s essential ingredients

Niigata prefecture fields

The Kikusui brewery is located in Niigata. Surrounded by oceans and mountains, Niigata is a land that boasts natural beauty and delicious food.

By far its greatest claim to fame, however, is its production of Japanese Sake. The prefecture has more Sake breweries than any other prefecture, and those many breweries continue to work hard in their quest to produce fine Japanese Sake.

The ingredients of Japanese Sake are rice and water. This makes Niigata the ideal place to produce it.
With the largest land area devoted to rice cultivation in Japan, Niigata is the first prefecture to come to mind when it comes to rice. It is also extremely famous for its production of ‘koshihikari’, Japan’s most prestigious brand of table rice.

The Niigata city of Shibata, where Kikusui brewery is located, is an area of idyllic scenery, where much of the virgin landscape has been retained. 2,000-meter mountains towering over the area are covered in snow for much of the year, and the snowmelt that feeds into the area’s underground water veins provides a rich water resource.

Niigata is known for its severe winters and heavy snowfall. In days gone by, many houses would find their ground levels completely buried in snow, and their occupants would have to enter and exit their homes from the second story windows.
All that snow keeps the air clear and clean, and this, along with the winter climate, makes Niigata the perfect environment to ferment Japanese Sake at low temperatures.

Winter in Niigata prefecture

Fine Sake does not just taste good. We believe that truly good Sake creates pleasurable moments in people’s lives, gives rise to a unique and beautiful culture, and fosters peace and serenity. We treasure the history, traditions, and culture of Japanese Sake and strive to convey them to the modern age. 

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