Behind this door sits a wooden barrel traditionally used for sake-making


Forgotten traditions that nearly became extinct during industrialisation and modernisation can sometimes result in great innovation. One example of this is evident in sake-brewing. “Kimoto used to be common in Japanese breweries but was forgotten when the process became standardised for stable production during industrialisation,” says Ryoma Yamaguchi, a sake-brewer who works for Wakabayashi Shuzo, a local sake brewery.

Wakabayashi Shuzo has been operating since 1872. Since then, they have been continuously upgrading and modernising their sake-making processes. But now they are re-evaluating the old processes. A few years ago, they decided to test kimoto. This is an old-school fermentation process that does not use lactic acid bacterium to accelerate fermentation. Instead, they wait about thirty days and let lactic acid bacterium emerge naturally during the fermentation process. “Today, people are looking for a more unique and original taste. That is why we are going back to kimoto,” Ryoma explained.

The brewery also has a membership community of sake lovers called Goro-no-kai. Members pay annual membership fees to participate in the entire sake-making process, right from the planting and harvesting of the rice. A special kind of rice is used to make an exclusive brand of sake called Kamegoro. Kamegoro bottles are only sold to members. Local bars and ryokans are proud members and serve Kamegoro to their guests while residents also enjoy it on special occasions.






Text by Maki Nakata
Photography by Edward Hames

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