The Harmony in Snow Country Sake Brewing
Why is it that sake brewing is so popular in Minamiuonuma?
The starting point for all answers to this questions is the location of Minamiuionuma in snow country, or 'Yukiguni.' This is where we'll begin.
Roughly 300 years before now in 1717 (the second year of the kyouho era), in this location in the snow country Minamiuonuma is the history of the founding of a sake brewery. Its founder Genzaemon Aoki gave the brewery in Shiozawa village (now Shiozawa district)his family name Aoki and with the store name Hirano-ya began brewing sake.
The Brewery's brand name 'Kakurei' was designated by the Edo period author Suzuki Bokushi who gained notoriety by introducing the snow country lifestyle to the whole country in his publication the 'Hokuetsu Seppu.'
The brewery's philosophy, 'wa-go', requires a balance of perspectives from drinkers, brewers and sellers of sake. The idea that this harmony leads to producing the best sake has existed a long time, having been passed on to each new generation of brewers.
Currently, the brewery produces roughly 4000 koku (720 kilo-liters) of sake a year, 60% of which is sold locally in Niigata prefecture. This practice, through the relationship of trust developed with local consumers, allows the necessary 'wa-go' (harmony) to be achieved. The brewery is determined to reach the unique flavorthat reflects their consumers' tastes and its workers continue to devote themselves to a sake-brewing process that garners respect from all sake consumers.
Beginning at the end of August, the long-term sake brewing starts with the skilled use of a variety of the latest sake-brewing machinery. From December on the sake can be brewed making the most of the snowy winter climate of Minamiuonuma, the best environment for sake production.
This is because Minamiuonuma's ideal snowy climatemakes it difficult for bacteria to grow,and additionally there is a mysterious power associated with the long winter that cannot be seen by the brewers but is believed to help them.
Currently, 11 snow country natives conduct the brewing operation. Skillfully manning machinery and adhering to proper brewing techniques, they aim to complete a sake even more delicious than Kakurei and will continue to challenge sake-brewing norms for years to come!
|Address||1214 Shiozawa, Minamiuonuma City, Niigata Prefecture|
|Parking Lot||Free public parking nearby|
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