Yamatogawa Sake Brewery, one of best-known breweries in Kitakata, was established during the Edo period over 230 years ago. The head of the family was known as "Yauemon," which is where the famous sake range "Yauemon series" got its name. The Yauemon series is the company's flagship sake range. It has gained popularity abroad in countries including Taiwan, Hong Kong, the USA, the UK, Australia, and Brazil.
I first explored the Northern Museum, which has the distinctively historical feel of a well-established sake shop.
The wooden beams here date back to the Edo period. It's possible to explore it at your leisure or as part of a guided tour.
There are displays about how rice and water are used to make sake, and how sake is stored. In total, it takes about 15 minutes to see the whole exhibition.
I learned many things about making sake, and the different tools and varieties of rice that are part of this process.
The exhibition space is divided into three areas: the Edo Storehouse, the Taisho Storehouse, and the Showa Storehouse. Each area is bound to fascinate sake fans.
The Edo Storehouse was built during the Edo period (1603-1868), and is the oldest of the brewery's three storehouses. Its mud walls allow for a pleasant breeze to pass through. Currently, the Edo Storehouse contains displays of various tools which were traditionally used in sake brewing. It really gives you a feel for what the brewery would have been like back then.
The Taisho Storehouse was built during the Taisho era (1912-1926). It showcases various products, but the best part is the display of sake bottles.
It is built so that the temperature remains more or less constant all year round; cool in summer and warm in winter.
It's a good example of wisdom passed down through the generations.
The Showa Storehouse was built in 1929; the 4th year of the Showa era. Nowadays, it's used as an event hall.
It is mainly used for concerts and lectures, but since the space has fantastic acoustics, it is well suited to live music performances.
In front of the Showa Storehouse (also known as the Ferment Hall), there is a place where locals come to fill up their water bottles. I'm envious of the locals having such close access to delicious water for free!
Delicious water is, of course, important for making sake. But carefully selecting quality rice is even more important. The rice that is used is high in quality and hasn't been grown by contract farmers who use agrochemicals on their crops.
There's a sake tasting area in the shop by the brewery's exit where you can try more than ten different types of sake. The signature Yauemon Daiginjo Dry Sake is refreshing and pairs well with a variety of snacks.
It's even possible to try the more expensive varieties, although there is a small fee. The sake tasting hits the spot and is the perfect opportunity to decide which products to buy!
Seeing the actual tools used in the process of making sake, as well as the finished product, at Yamatogawa Sake Brewery is fascinating, even for visitors who don't drink sake. What's more, a bottle of sake bought at the shop is sure to make a wonderful present for the sake-lover in your life!