Regionality and Sake Brewing

Appreciation and respect for the greatness of nature
Thanks to nature’s blessing—rice and water—and the people here, Kojima Sohonten has continued brewing in the same place since our inauguration in 1597. We appreciate nature and people. Our goal is to make sake that embraces these characteristics.

Regionality, Water

Kojima Sohonten is the closest brewery to the source of Mogami River and has been blessed with the cleanest soft water. Yonezawa, where the brewery is located, is in a heavy snowfall area where annual snowfall amounts to six meters. The abundant water from melting snow that flows from Mt. Azuma becomes the source of the Mogami River which runs through Yamagata Prefecture.

The headstream consists of melted snow-water that filtrates through the strata absorbing minerals and turns into groundwater with elegant mouth feel until it arrives to our brewery. The temperature of the groundwater equals to the annual average temperature of the land. Water from our well is at 11℃, which is Yonezawa’s annual average temperature.

11℃ is the temperature we recommend for drinking Toko. No one knows if it’s just a coincidence. Though, once you drink Toko and feel the soft, delicate texture, you might arrive at a simple conclusion: “the natural temperature brings out the best.”

Rice

Snowfall on the mountains starts melting slowly in the spring, and eventually becomes the water that fills the rice fields. One of our important principles is using the same headwater for both sake brewing and rice farming.

To make the most out of this blessed land, Kojima Sohonten founded Yonezawa Sake Rice Society and has worked with contracted rice farmers. Many members are seasonal workers in the winters; they farm rice in the summer, brew sake in the winter. This is how they are deeply involved with the ingredients and make sake from farming.

 “Our local rice looks different when rinsing and soaking in local water.
The rice has been with the water from the beginning."

When the brewers say so, we can feel exactly what they mean.

Sake Brewing

We, humans, cannot intervene the work of microorganisms which can be seen only through microscopes. All we can do is to read the signals they send and promote a good environment for them. It seems primitive, but we feel we can communicate with the microorganisms through nothing but our senses and hands.

In the winter, when everything is covered with snow, the brewery becomes stable at a low temperature and provides the microorganisms the ideal environment for fermentation. Sake brewed slowly in cold air has a fresher and more delicate taste just like fruits in a cold region.

In addition to the rice and the water, microorganisms are also a necessary component to brew sake in Yonezawa’s environment.