Niigata Sake Breweries
Niigata Prefecture is located in the Chubu region of Honshu of Japan. It borders Toyama Prefecture and Nagano Prefecture to the southwest, Gunma Prefecture to the south, Fukushima Prefecture to the east and Yamagata Prefecture to the northeast. The Niigata region is lush with natural surroundings that combine to create an outstanding environment for growing rice, as well as the ultimate sake-brewing terroir for which the region is famous. Tall mountains bless the land with copious amounts of pure and soft water, vast stretches of rice fields, cold and clean air to facilitate the brewing of Niigata sake which is then enjoyed by consumers across the region, coupled with fresh local seafood. Soft water helps the yeast to work when liquor is brewed and fermented. Fermentation progresses slowly in soft water with a small amount of this component, and the resulting liquor becomes fine-grained liquor. All of these factors and more have combined to make Niigata unique and special in many ways, not the least of which is its uniquely identifiable sake culture.
Hasegawa Shuzo Sake Brewery
Niigata, where the brewery is located, is one of Japan’s leading sake destinations. There are several reasons why sake brewing is so widespread here. First of all, “the environment” is ideal for sake brewing. The city of Nagaoka is characterized by very short winter sunshine hours and little temperature variation between day and night. In addition, there is considerable snowfall here every year, and this climate is one of the most essential factors in brewing delicious sake. Next is the clear waters that flow from the Nagaoka Higashiyama mountain range are clear and soft, which plays a significant role in brewing clean-tasting, transparent sake. Premium Daiginjo sake, brewed during the coldest season, has a spectacular aroma and a light, sophisticated flavor—the gift of cool, clear streams fed by thawing waters.
Representative: Michio Hasegawa
Address: 2-7-28 Settaya, Nagaoka-city, Niigata
Foundation (year) 1842
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Aoki Shuzo Sake Brewery
Aoki Shuzo, is located in Uonuma city, Niigata prefecture, known as one of the snowiest regions in Japan. Established in 1717, they have been brewing sake continuously for over 300 years. Their signature brand KAKUREI, and other Sakes are produced by various benefits of the snow country, and skilled Echigo-Toji, the master brewers. While Niigata prefecture is famous for Tanrei-Karakuchi, the light, elegant and dry sake style, they are aiming to create Tanrei-Umakuchi, remaining the pure umami of Sake-rice, handing down the original recipe to the next 100 years.
Representative: Takafumi Aoki
Address: 1214 Shiozawa, Minamiuonuma, Niigata
Foundation (year) 1717
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Echigo Sakura Shuzo Sake Brewery
Echigo Sakura Shuzo brewery is in the Agano City around the center of the Niigata Plain. The brewery is located in the middle of the rich natural environment near the Agano river and Gozu Mountains. Also, in the vicinity of Echigozakura Shuzo, there is Lake Hyōko, where many swans overwinter every year. Therefore, the brewery is also named “Hakucho-gura (Swan Brewery),” because of its resemblance to the land of swans.
Representative: Keiichi Koyama
Address: 1-7-13 Yamaguticho, Agano, Niigata
Foundation (year) 1890
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Fukugao Sake Brewery
The founding Shouji Koyashi selected Ebisu, one of the Seven Gods of Fortune, as the symbol of Fukugao Sake Brewery. An often-smiling face with a fond gaze is described in Japanese as an “Ebisu face,” a sign of happiness, and the symbol of somebody with a happy face or fukugao that our founder Shouji Kobayashi envisioned. Thus, Ebisu became the symbol of Fukugao Sake Brewery. Legends recount that Ebisu is a child of Okuninushinomikoto, the great deity and original ruler of Japan. Ebisu is the god of fishing, commerce, and farming who brings fortunes of large catches, prosperous business, and bountiful grain harvests.
Representative: Akira Kobayashi
Address: 1-5-38 Hayashicho, Sanjo, Niigata
Foundation (year) 1897
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Watanabe Sake Brewery
Watanabe sake brewery was established by Heijuro Watanabe in 1868, located on the same land as it is now. The head of the brewery now is Yoshiki Watanabe. Until 2001, Watanabe had worked under the Toji (the master brewers) system but he determined to discontinue the system to break through the situation with no growth. His challenge was a big change to a new system of brewing by the staff not only Toji. He seriously trained the staff for years to reach a certain level at each section of its need. They also started rice cultivation in 2003 and set to work on full-scale sake rice production for their own sake. In 2012, they formed an agricultural production corporation called “Nechi Rice Farm Co., Ltd.”
Representative: Yoshiki Watanabe
Address: 1197-1 Negoya, Itoigawa, Niigata
Foundation (year) 1868
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Hakkaisan Sake Brewery
Hakkaisan Sake Brewery uses “Spring water from Raiden” for all brands of Hakkaisan. The spring water is brought to our Kura (Sake factory) from the foot of Mt. Hakkai through the pipeline. Rice brands of Goyakumangoku and Yamada Nishiki which are believed to be the most suitable rice for making the sake are used for making Hakkaisan. Needless to say, Hakkaisan carefully selects the place and the growers of rice. Based on traditional know-how and every possible effort and using these strictly selected materials, Hakkaisan makes the best quality sake.
Representative: Jiro Nagumo
Address: 1051 Nagamori, Minamiuonumashi, Niigata
Foundation (year) 1922
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Ichishima Sake Brewery
In modern days, Ichishima’s main brand is “Aumont”. They try to preserve their tradition, but also, produce sake which matches the current trends and tastes of customers, such as the “Yume” series of Junmai and the “Karen” series which is targeted mainly at young people and women. Although women were originally prohibited from sake production, they, in fact, employed female workers. In 1979, one of them became the first female brewer to have a first-grade license in Japan. The author Tomiko Miyao visited their brewery before she wrote the novel “Kura ”. Also, their sake was mentioned in a comic “Natsuko no sake”.
Representative: Kenji Ichishima
Address: Suwacho 3-1-17, Shibata, Niigata
Foundation (year) 1970
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Ikeura Shuzo Sake Brewery
Ikeura shuzo brewery was founded in the first year of Tenpo (1830). It was a shoya for generations, but if you look at the splendid Japanese garden inside the mansion, you can see that the love of style has been inherited. The most cultural figure was the predecessor, Ryuemon. From a young age, he respected the idea of equality, respected the literary man of Nagaoka, and revered Nomoto, and deepened exchanges. Currently, the representative and brand of this brewery, “Warakugoson,” was originally named “Warakugoson,” but it was named by Osamu Nomoto. He said, “You should spread democracy for sake,” but it is true that you can have a naked relationship at a drinking place.
Representative: Ryutaro Ikeura
Address: 1538 Ryotaka, Nagaoka, Niigata
Foundation (year) 1830
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Imayo Tsukasa Sake Brewery
Imayo Tsukasa started as an inn and sake shop. From the late Edo period to the early Meiji era, Niigata was said to have a higher population than Edo. As the heartland of Japan, Niigata was prosperous and bustling with industry. It was also one of the 3 geisha capitals of Japan, along with Kyoto and Edo. It’s a tradition that is still alive today. Since the middle of the Meiji era, Imayo Tsukasa has been a fully dedicated sake brewery. The Niigata soil was fertile, the Agano water was clean, and a facility in Nuttari was built as a hub for Japanese fermented goods like miso, sake and soy sauce. Nuttari products are in high demand by first-rate chefs around Japan.
Representative: Yosuke Tanaka
Address: 1-1 Kagamigaoka, Chuo-Ward, Niigata City, Niigata
Foundation (year) 1767
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Ishimoto Sake Brewery
The Niigata region has been famous for large, fragrant plums that appear in the early summer. In one orchard there was a tree that blossomed at the cusp of spring, braving the cold and snow that still lay upon the ground. This lone blossom that stood out so vividly became the origin for the name of their sake, Koshi no Kanbai. They have always maintained a local focus, and have strived to make sake that encouraged the local farmers. They started from humble beginnings, and even during times of adversity, we went to great lengths to brew precisely the kind of sake that we all enjoyed.
Representative: Tatsunori Ishimoto
Address: 847-1 Kitayama Konan-ku, Niigata-shi, Niigata
Foundation (year) 1907
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Kamonishiki Syuzou Sake Brewery
Since its establishment in Kamo City, Niigata Prefecture in 1893, Kamonishiki Brewery has been popular among the local people as representative of their area. Today the lifestyle surrounding sake is changing rapidly, especially since the food we eat has become more and more diverse. The word Gohan originally meant only rice but has taken on the more general meaning of the meal. Similarly, the word Osake used to be the word for sake alone, but now it also means any kind of alcoholic drink. Kamonishiki is small and limited in output and production, yet they take great effort to make the best sake for such a diverse dietary life.
Representative: Yasuhisa Tanaka
Address: 3-3 Nakamachi, Kamo-City, Niigata
Foundation (year) 1893
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Kanemasu Sake Brewery
For five generations, the Takahashi family has been proudly leading the Kanemasu Brewery. Their founder Zennosuke Takahashi built Kanemasu Brewery in Niigata City approximately two hundred years ago in 1822. Zennosuke’s grandson, Unpei Takahashi, moved the brewery to Shibata City. The conditions in Shibata were better for growing rice and brewing sake. Growing quality rice requires pristine water, and Shibata’s Kajikawa River is an abundant source of crystal clear water. To create high-quality sake, breweries need four key components: clean water, rice, and two types of microorganisms-yeast and koji-mold. At Kanemasu, they craft two lines of Hatsuhana sake. The Hatsuhana line includes two junmai sakes, which they make with the most flavorful inner sections of milled rice. “Rich and smooth” are the Hatsuhana flavors.
Representative: Tsunao Takahashi
Address: 1-9-30 Yutaka-chou, Shibata, Niigata
Foundation (year) 1822
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Kawachushuzou Sake Brewery
Nagaoka City, where the brewery is located, at the foot of the Nishiyama Mountain Range, almost in the center of Niigata Prefecture, and is blessed with beautiful nature and history. The origin of the town is quite old, and it is an area where settlements have been formed since ancient times, such as the excavation of Jomon archaeological sites. The origin of the sake inscription “Sotenbo” is the name of a traditional mountain that appears in our local folk tales. In addition, the name “Sotenbo” contains the message of “sake brewed with the thoughts of the brewers and the blessings of heaven”.
Representative: Tadayuki Kawauchi
Address: 1677 Wakinomachi, Nagaoka-city, Niigata
Foundation (year) 1765
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Kiminoi Shuzo Sake Brewery
Kiminoi Shuzou is located along the road formerly known as Hokkoku-Kaido Araishuku. Hokkoku-Kaido was a passage for alternating Edo Residence of the Japanese feudal lords of the Hokuriku area. In addition, it was an important transportation passage for transporting large amount of gold produced in Sado to Edo, rice from the granary, salt and seafood from Imamachi Port (Joetsu City), and other supplies. However, thanks to the “land of heavy snowfall,” the Arai area becomes a natural refrigerator in winter and is blessed with abundant groundwater, such as river-bed water from the Yashiro River from Mt. Myoko. This condition makes Arai an ideal environment for sake brewing. Kiminoi Shuzou has been growing with the blessing of the snow.
Representative: Hiroyuki Tanaka
Address: 3−11 Shimo-machi, Myoko City, Niigata
Foundation (year) 1842
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Musashino Shuzo Sake Brewery
The Kobayashi family took over as the current owners of the brewery in 1916. While the date of foundation was set to be that year, the actual history of the brewery is much longer, and the original date of establishment remains unclear. It is easy to imagine that their history as a brewer began more than hundreds of years ago during the early Meiji period. Musashino’s sake is produced from locally grown special sake rice such as Koshi-Tanrei rice and Gohyakumangoku rice. At Musashino, they brew sake perfect for any occasion, from regular sake to Daiginjo sake. They use rice produced in the ricefields of Joetsu, and snow melted soft water from Myoko mountains.
Representative: Hajime Kobayashi
Address: 4-7-46 Nishishiro-cho, Joetsu, Niigata
Foundation (year) 1916
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Niigata Meijo Sake Brewery
Niigata Meijo is located in Ojiya in the central region of Niigata Prefecture. A fertile valley for rice farming surrounded by snow-covered mountains in winter, the environment is ideal for sake production. The company’s brewery has produced sake and distributed other wholesale beverages for 70 years. This sake brewery has been trying not only to maintain traditional sake brewing methods but also to provide sake lovers with the product they want and with an outstanding sake history.
Representative: Sadao Yoshizawa
Address: 1-8-39 Touei, Ojiya city, Niigata
Foundation (year) 1938
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Obata Shuzo Sake Brewery
OBATA sake brewery was founded by Yososaku Obata in 1892 in the former Mano town of Sado Island, and for more than 128 years They have been brewing traditionally handcrafted sake. The motto of OBATA shuzo is to brew sake by harmonizing the “Four Treasures”. The 3 elements that are commonly held to be crucial in sake brewing are “Rice”, “Water” and “People (brewers)”. In addition to those three, they take into account the importance of “Sado Island”. Moreover, the OBATA family crest has “The Four Diamonds”, which stays true to the motto in holding these principles. They aim to produce a well-balanced sake, using all those elements efficiently.
Representative: Takeshi Hirashima
Address: 449 Manoshinmachi, Sado-city, Niigata
Foundation (year) 1892
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Sasaiwai Sake Brewery
Sasasai sake brewery was founded in 1902. 90% of the production is locally consumed, which is called “local sake among local sake”. Their motto is to provide sake that the sake maker and locals to think “drink now and taste good”. The staff of Sasasai sake brewery, who go to the brewery every day for sake brewing, jarring, and office work, are all local friends. For Sasasai, who advocates being a “local sake,” the “delicious sake” that should be aimed at is, in other words, delicious sake that local people drink.
Representative: Takaaki Sasaguchi
Address: Matunoo 3249, Nisikann-ku, Niigata-shi, Niigata
Foundation (year) 1899
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Shiokawa Sake Brewery
Founded in 1912, Uchinomachi storehouse is located to the west of Niigata City and is also known as the city of Niigata University. Since ancient times, the underground water of the Shinano River has been abundant, and it is a land blessed with good quality water. You can overlook the grade separation of Nishikawa, which is a tributary of the Shinano River, and Shinkawa, which was dug manually 200 years ago, and you can feel the history of the rich breadbasket. The brewery is made of old-fashioned clay walls, and the temperature difference between the four seasons is small, making it an environment suitable for sake brewing.
Representative: Takeji Shiokawa
Address: Uchino-machi, Nishi-ku, Niigata City, Niigata
Foundation (year) 1912
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Shirataki Sake Brewery
In 1855, Shirataki founder Minatoya Tosuke embarked on sake production using pristine meltwater in the lowlands of Echigo Yuzawa. Lying in the foothills of a mountain range linking Kanto (Tokyo) with the Sea of Japan, the area flourished with inns offering the travelers the treat of natural hot springs and gorgeous 4-season colors. What was once just brewed at Shirataki to heal the fatigue of these countless visitors is now a consistently enjoyable and award-winning product appreciated globally.
Representative: Shintaro Takahashi
Address: 2640 Yuzawa Yuzawa-machi, Minamiuonumagun, Niigata
Foundation (year) 1855
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Suminoi Shuzo Sake Brewery
Suminoi Sake Brewery has been dedicated to sake brewing since its establishment in the 8th year of the Horeki calendar (1758). Sake is produced by the action of microorganisms on rice and water. Our mountain abandonment training has arrived as a result of our efforts in research, while obediently hanging their heads on this providence of nature and humbly gazing at the activities of nature. The high-quality rice and water provided by Japan’s rich climate will bring out a subtle, complex and profound taste when transformed into sake if the characteristics are fully brought out without excessive processing. That is why they believe that sake is a symbol of the abundance of Japanese nature and Japanese culture, and is the king of Japanese sake.
Representative: Yasuhito Tanaka
Address: 581-1 Yoshizaki, Nagaoka City, Niigata
Foundation (year) 1758
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Taiyo Shuzo Sake Brewery
Taiyo Sake Brewery is located in Murakami, the northernmost town in Niigata Prefecture, once a prosperous castle town of the Murakami Clan, remnants of the samurai era and its merchant town charm still remain. A number of historic festivals continue to this day, attracting large crowds of visitors. Murakami has also been a thriving brewing area for many years. The oldest of the 14 original local kura (breweries) has been in operation since 1635. Taiyo Sake Brewery’s history began when the 14 local kura merged to form one company in 1945. During harvest season, the Murakami plain is blanketed in golden rice fields which provide an abundance of the best quality rice in Japan. The network of underground water channels which skirts around the Miomote River creates the perfect setting for brewing premium sake. In this rich environment, Taiyo strives to produce the finest sake available.
Representative: Shigehiko Masuda
Address: 1-4-31 Iino, Murakami, Niigata
Foundation (year) 1945
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Yoshinogawa Sake Brewery
Yoshinogawa has a tradition dating back 470 years of producing the best sake in the rice-growing heartland of Niigata province. Founded in 1548, Yoshinogawa is the oldest brewery in the famed sake-producing region of Niigata Japan. Japanese sake is 80 percent water. Underground water from Japan’s largest river, the Shinano, and melted snow water from the Nagaoka Eastern Mountain range mingle together deep below the surface of the earth and gush forth from a well in the brewery grounds. This is the water used to prepare Yoshinogawa sake. Insistence on rice grown in Niigata Prefecture and cultivated by the brewers themselves. Niigata Prefecture is famous throughout Japan as a rice-growing heartland. It is here that the sake rice we use at Yoshinogawa is cultivated. The brewers who make the sake are farmers who grow rice in the summer. With their thorough knowledge of the role of rice in sake-brewing, they brew sake using rice known as kurabito saibaimai or brewer’s rice which they themselves have worked hard to grow.
Representative: Yuki Minemasa
Address: 4-8-12, Settaya, Nagaoka-shi, Niigata-ken
Foundation (year) 1548
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Hakuryu Syuzou Sake Brewery
Representative: Hidetoshi Shirai
Address: 3-7 Okayamacho, Aganoshi, Niigata
Foundation (year) 1839
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Ofuku-Shuzo Sake Brewery
The founder, Goro Kishi, served as the chief judge and chief council member of the 1st National Sake Fair sponsored by the Brewing Society of Japan, and in 1945, became the first brewing technology meritorious person of the Brewing Society of Japan. In 1958, the brewery received the first Yellow Ribbon Medal in the brewing world.
Representative: Tomio Kishi
Address: 606 Yokomakura, Nagaoka, Niigata
Foundation (year) 1898
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Tamagawa Sake Brewery
Since the time of the 4th Shogun Tokugawa Ietsuna in 1673, he has been brewing sake, and in 1989, the “Sake Brewery Tour Echigo Yukikurakan” was established. The sake brewery tour course introduces sake brewing and storage methods, and the history of sake. At the tasting corner, in addition to the representative brand of ball flavor, there are 10 types of sake such as sparkling Daiginjo, high alcohol sake liqueur “Echigo Samurai Echigo Samurai”, and palatable pure rice sake “Koshinoyukizo” Meguro Gorosuke “. In addition, we also offer “Yukikura cosmetics” that are good for whitening and moisturizing using sake. Tamagawa Sake Brewery has the theme of “healthy and fun through sake”
Representative: Takeshi Kazama
Address: Suhara 1643, Uonuma City, Niigata Ken
Foundation (year) 1673
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Yoshikawa-Toujinosato Sake Brewery
The brewery was born in 1999, “Yoshikawa Mori no Sato” inherits Yoshikawa’s disappearing sake brewery. It is a sake brewery that inherits the skills of Mr. Namori, who was produced by Yoshikawa. Yoshikawa facing from Mt. Ogami is cultivated along the three streams. The clear stream from Mt. Ogami flows abundantly in the swamp, and sake rice is grown. A sake that was born in this place where the word “river” of “Kichi” is written. Here is the luxury of enjoying the encounter with sake in good luck. In Yoshikawa, which produced excellent Mori, in 1957 (Showa 32), a brewing department was set up at the Niigata Prefectural Yoshikawa High School at that time. Human resources with specialized knowledge and technology that could respond to technological innovations and changes in distribution patterns in the brewing industry were desired, and this was established in response to this. In addition to sake, miso, soy sauce, and Narazuke production training were also conducted with the aim of training specialists in the field of fermented foods as well as sake. Graduates from the brewing department have found employment in many sake brewing companies, and they are still active while conveying the tradition of Yoshikawa’s sake brewing to various places.
Representative: Mitsugu Sekihara
Address: Toujinosato 1, Yoshikawa-ku, Joetsu-shi, Niigata
Foundation (year) 1999
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