Greetings Sake Lovers, welcome to another KURAND Magazine article that introduces you to the world of sake.
Sake has a long history in Japan. We know that alcohol production using rice as the main ingredient goes back almost 2,000 years. Which raises the question: how long have the average sakagura (sake brewery) been operational? While it is common knowledge that they are family businesses that have been passed down for generations, it is hard to guess their age. That is why KURAND decided to do a little survey of our partner breweries.
KURAND SAKE MARKET Asked 38 Partner Breweries
KURAND works with 38 business partner breweries. We asked each of these breweries when they were founded. Existing data shows that the oldest brewery is Sudo-honke, located in Ibaraki. This was founded in 1141 AD and has a history of 875 years. It is a history so long it is hard to comprehend. So then, would any of our 38 partner breweries come close to topping that?
KURAND Partner Breweries: Average Number of Years Since Founding.
The average was 162 years. (as of 2016). 162 years ago would mean around 1856. Back then Japan was still in the Edo period. Sake brewing in Japan has such rich history, but the Edo period is probably one of the most important eras when brewing became safer and more stable and many developments were made that changed the face of brewing forever!
Why Did so Many Breweries Start Between Late Edo to Meiji Period
We discovered that many of the 38 breweries were founded between the Edo and Meiji Periods. One reason for this might be the relaxing of the complex sakekabu (laws about sake brewing) allowing brewers much more freedom to brew during this time.
Who are the Oldest Among Our Partner Breweries?
Which partner brewery has the longest history? The top three breweries with the longest history are listed below.
No.3 Chiyonokame Shuzo
Number 3 is Chiyonokame brewer in Ehime prefecture. It was founded in 1716 and boasts 300 years of history. 1716 was the year that the 8th shogun Yoshimune Tokugawa implemented the Kyouhou reforms. Chiyonokame brewery is always building upon its rich history and actively challenging the developing of innovative products.
No.2 Tamagawa Shuzo
Number 2 is Tamagawa brewery in Niigata prefecture. It was founded in 1673 and has 343 years of history. Tamagawa brewery is located in one of the many areas in Niigata with exceptionally heavy snowfall, even for Niigata. From the time of the 4th shogun Ietsuna Tokugawa, sake was cooled using natural snow. Snow storage was also used. Sake brewing was done together with nature.
No.1 Haneda Shuzo
Number 1 is Haneda brewery in Yamagata prefecture. It was founded in 1592 and has 434 years of history. Overwhelming! 1592 was the year that Hideyoshi Toyotomi sent troops to Korea (known as bunroku-no-eki). Their tradition has been passed down for generations and they continue to brew sake with a consistent flavor profile.
The sheer number of breweries with over 300 years of history may have come as a surprise. But it is part of the KURAND concept to showcase the lesser known, smaller breweries and these tend to be the ones with the most history. A selection of sake from the sake breweries mentioned in this article can be enjoyed at KURAND SAKE MARKET. Why not come down and sip the history of sake. We look forward to welcoming you soon.