Kumamoto Sake Breweries
Kumamoto Prefecture is located on the island of Kyushu. It borders Fukuoka Prefecture to the north, Oita Prefecture to the northeast, Miyazaki Prefecture to the southeast and Kagoshima Prefecture to the south. The mountains of Kyushu and Aso, with its immense caldera, act as the sources for the huge reserves of groundwater that bubble up through the Kumamoto earth. It is believed that there are at least 1000 freshwater springs within the borders of Kumamoto Prefecture. Akazake (meaning “red sake”) is a kind of alcohol unique to Kumamoto, a region with both hot summers and cold winters. For hundreds of years, Akazake was the only alcohol allowed in Kumamoto and sake could neither be produced here nor brought in from outside.
Great changes in Japanese society in the second half of the 19th century, like the Meiji Restoration and the Satsuma Rebellion, led to the legalization of alcohols other than Akazake, and brewers in Kumamoto began experimenting with sake. In 1903, a man named Nojiro Kinichi was assigned to work in the Kumamoto Tax Office. Nojiro would go on to be called the “God of Sake” through his work in instructing the breweries throughout the prefecture on brewing techniques and offering advice on improving the quality of sake. He also helped the breweries work even more closely together, leading to the start of the Kumamoto Prefecture Sake Institute in 1909 and its incorporation in 1918 by the breweries of Kumamoto.
We took over the school building of Suwon Elementary School, which has a history of 130 years, at “Kikuchi” in Kumamoto, Kyushu, and built a new sake brewery. This land called Kikuchi is filled with clear air that is indispensable for sake brewing, rice suitable for making delicious sake, and pure water. In Japanese history and culture, sake has been brewed to serve God. Also, in our lives, we have been drinking alcohol at important milestones in our lives to remember marriage and loved ones, and have raised our sense of companionship. We will work on sake brewing using Kikuchi rice. The rice harvested in Kikuchi is called “Higo rice” and has long been so popular that it has a special price along with Kaga rice. The reason why Kikuchi’s rice is delicious is that the soil-grown in the Kikuchi River and its tributaries is fertile, and especially in the Nanagi area, the area around our sake brewery is famous for rice.
Representative: Keiichiro Sendo
Address: Medowara 1030, Shichobun, Kikuchi, Kumamoto-ken
Foundation (year) 1752
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Kameman Shuzo Brewery
The brewery has been pursuing higher quality and making products since the founder, Jinju Takeda aspired to make sake for local consumption in 1916. The quality of sake is said to be “Ichikoji, Nito, Sanzukuri”. Sake is basically prepared at a low temperature such as 5°C to 15°C. By fermenting for a long period of time, we make delicious sake with less unpleasant taste. If alcoholic fermentation is left to nature, the product temperature may rise by 20°C or more due to the heat generated by fermentation, depending on the room temperature. We will continue to hand down Kumamoto sake while incorporating the latest technology to maintain the traditional method of local sake. We also want to be a sake brewery that can contribute to the local community and society more than ever through sake brewing.
Representative: Shuichi Takeda
Address: 1192 Tsunagi, Ashikitagun Tsunagimachi, Kumamoto
Foundation (year) 1916
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Sengetsu Shuzo Brewery
Our founder, Jisuke Tsutsumi, created Sengetsu in 1903. He came from a family of soy sauce brewers, thus he already had knowledge of brewing techniques that he then utilized in making shochu. He named his shochu “Jisuke Shochu” and it was quite popular back then. On the 100th anniversary of our founding, we changed the name of our company from Mine-no-Tsuyu Shuzo, which had been our name for a quarter century since the time of Jisuke Tsutsumi, Jr., to our current name of Sengetsu Shuzo to mark our first step into a new era of shochu-making. Thanks to the careful work since our founding of all our master distillers and staff, Sengetsu has been able to maintain a high level of distilling skill, letting us continue to create shochus of unwavering quality and flavor, just as we have for over 100 years.
Representative: Masahiro Tsutsumi
Address: 1 Shinmachi, Hitoyosi-city, Kumamoto
Foundation (year) 1903
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“Let’s make the first sake in Kumamoto that represents Kumamoto”. The first Tahachi Yoshimura was one of the first to start making sake in the 3rd year of Keio (1867). Zuiyo’s sake name started when Tahachi saw a hawk chases a sparrow while opening the door of the sake brewery to try to put the light of the new year into the brewery. The Kumamoto Prefectural Sake Brewery Research Institute was born as a part of Zuiyo’s sake brewery, with the determination to expand the brewery and take over the sake that was made regardless of the finish. Kumamoto yeast is separated and cultivated from the brewed yeast of “Koryu” brewed at the research institute. Even if Kumamoto yeast uses the same raw materials, it is recognized that it is excellent as it can bring out the individuality according to the maker’s request, and it will be adopted as “Kyokai No. 9 yeast” of the Brewing Society of Japan. Zuiyo continues to use this Kumamoto yeast as the main yeast.
Representative: Kohei Yoshimura
Address: 4-6-67, Kawashiri, Minami-ku, Kumamoto City, Kumamoto
Foundation (year) 1867
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