There are an estimated 1200 sake breweries in Japan, and Japanese sake is made in every single prefecture. Sake differs not only in taste, but in food pairings and ways of drinking, depending on the region. In learning about sake, it is possible to get a glimpse into the rich culture of Japan. Fushimi of Kyoto Prefecture will be introduced in this feature.
One of three famous Japanese drinking places, “Fushimi” of Kyoto
Fushimi ward is located in the southern area of Kyoto city. It is the location of the popular tourist spot, Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine, and is also known as one of three famous drinking places of Japan. Sake made from medium-hard water unique to its land, has a fine and soft quality.
Japanese sake can be enjoyed at many different temperatures, chilled or warmed. Room temperature sake can be thought of as “that day’s temperature”, which makes it very special. ~Saito Brewery Co., President, Mr. Saito~
Drinking place that blossomed 500 years ago, Fushimi
Fushimi has a long history of sake brewing. With the influence of the fortification of Fushimi Castle by Toyotomi Hideyoshi,during the Azuchi-Momoyama period (1573-1603), Fushimi flourished. At the same time, the number of liquor stores soared. At one point at the end of the Edo period, the number of liquor stores in Fushimi decreased, but now, is only second to Nada in Hyogo Prefecture. There are currently over 20 breweries in Fushimi, some which remain from the Edo period (1603-1868) where the taste of yesteryear still remains.
Famous Fushimi water that has been long depended on
Fushimi is a groundwater-rich area, so much so that it has also been referred to as “Fukusui” (meaning “water lurking”). Many minerals are contained in its medium-hard water, and sake made from this water takes on a soft, mellow flavor. This soft flavor is also referred to as “female sake” and is a great pairing with refined Kyoto cuisine.
Local production and local consumption of sake rice, “Iwai”
In addition to Fushimi water used in production, another distinct feature is the “Iwai” (meaning “celebration”) sake rice that is grown locally in Kyoto. While Iwai was the most used sake rice at Fushimi breweries, the difficulty in growing, as well as the scarce amount that the crops yielded, caused a halt to production at one time. At the end of the 1980s, with the efforts of the Fushimi brewing union, the production of Iwai sake rice resumed. Sake was made using Iwai sake rice for the first time in approximately 20 years. In this way, Iwai sake rice is locally made and locally consumed, and is only provided to breweries in Kyoto.
“Saito Brewery”, a long-established representative of Fushimi
Saito Brewery, founded in 1895, is located 15 minutes by train from Kyoto Station, and 10 minutes on foot from Momoyamagoryo-mae Station. It is a long-established representative of Fushimi, having won numerous awards from the Review Board of Japanese Sake. Saito Brewing relies on locally produced ingredients and was instrumental in reviving Iwai sake rice. They handle approximately 30 to 40 percent of Iwai sake rice. They also support local Kyoto farmers by providing for such activities as hands-on Iwai sake rice planting experiences.
“Play” with Japanese sake
There is no set way to “play” with Japanese sake. Please enjoy it in combination with various food s and drinks, as well as drinkware. Instead of thinking of it in depth, I would be delighted if you could “play” with Japanese sake. ~Saito Brewery Co., President, Mr. Saito~
Moromine, tavern owned by Saito Brewing Co., is located a short 1 minute walk from Momoyamagoryo-mae Station. Here, visitors can drink all varieties of sake made by Saito Brewery, including brands that are only available at this tavern. Food parings perfect to sake is also available. There is a variety of sake drinkware available. Enjoy sake while drinking from your favorite drinkware.
“Koto Sennen Junmai Daiginjo”, the representative brand of Saito Brewing Co.
Made with locally produced Kyoto sake rice, Iwai, Koto Sennen Junmai Daiginjo is the gem of Saito Brewing Co., and has an elegant and mellow taste. It is also highly regarded overseas and has been awarded the gold medal by the U.S. National Sake Appraisal.
Saito Brewing Corporation
105, Yokooji misu Yamashiroya shikicho, Fushimi-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto