NIHONMONODiscovering Japan [Nihon] through authentic craftsmanship [Honmono]

Supporting Yamagata’s liquor industry ”Yamagata Research Institute of Technology”

Supporting Yamagata’s liquor industry
”Yamagata Research Institute of Technology”

The institution supporting Yamagata’s industries

Yamagata Research Institute of Technology located in Yamagata city, is an institute aimed at improving technology of all kinds of industries in Yamagata Prefecture. It undertakes studies in various technical fields that can be grouped under industrial technology in Yamagata Prefecture. Not only do they study precision machinery and raw material technology, they also study fields such as food, textiles, and design and provide technical assistance in these fields.
On this trip, we visited the department where they do research on liquor. Yamagata is currently known as one of Japan’s brewing capitals. Yamagata has wineries as well as ”sake” breweries. The institution supports these liquor manufacturers.

Yamagata, the brewery capital of Japan

We interviewed the Chief Manager of Yamagata Research Institute Of Technology, and Yoshinori Matsuda Toshihiko Ozeki, who currently belongs to Yamagata Prefecture Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Labor and Tourism, Industry Strategy Technology Promotion Section. After graduating from the Faculty of Agriculture at Niigata University, he has worked at the Yamagata Research Institute Of Technology since 1980 and served as the Chief Liquor Researcher, promoting the development of the industry in Yamagata. In 1999, Ozeki received the Yasuhei Ito award from the Brewing Society of Japan for the development of a ”sake “named ”Yamagata Seisei” using an original yeast. He kept working to improve the quality of liquor in Yamanashi, together with Yamanashi-based liquor companies, and always has been in the center of the myriad of research done in Yamanashi. As we listened to Ozeki’s story, we had a tour of the Research Institute Of Technology. In this institution, they refine that year’s rice harvest earlier than anywhere else, and conduct research on the quality of rice, develop new yeasts every year, and test-brew high quality ”sake” . One of the things they have studied for years is the sparkling ”sake”. The researchers on the scene explained to us about ”sake” brewing from a perspective different from that of brew masters.

”Sake” changing with the times

The final room we were shown, was lined with unlabeled ”sake” bottles. ”I want to have you actually try this.” said Ozeki as he handed a glass to Nakata. It was a ”daiginjo” premium ”sake” made with a new breed of rice named ”Yamagata Sake #104”. One of the famous breed of rice for ”sake” developed in Yamagata is the ”Dewa Sansan” developed in 1996, and ”sake” made from the rice is already popular, but they have now developed a new breed of Yamagata-developed rice for ”sake”, and are trying to establish brewing methods for it.
Nakata compared the ”sake”made from ”Dewa sansan”, but the one he liked better was the ”sake” made from ”Yamagata Sake #104”. ”We are happy to hear that” smiled Ozeki and the other researchers.
”By the way, what is the objective in developing a new breed of rice and making ”sake”with it?” Nakata asked, to which Ozeki answered ”It’s the changing times.”
”It has been said that the definition of good ”sake” was ”clear and dry” taste, but such standards change with the times. Compared to the age when keeping the ”sake” at room temperature was the norm, nowadays, temperature control has become important. We’d like to change the taste of the ”sake” to suit the trends of the times. The ”sake” we are now developing at the Research Institute of Technology is a ”sake” with full body and yet not too sweet.” According to him, the research is nearly done. We will look forward to drinking the new ”sake” from Yamagata, the brewing capital of Japan.

ACCESS

Yamagata Research Institute of Technology
2-2-1 Matsuei, Yamagata, Yamagata Prefecture
URL http://www.yrit.pref.yamagata.jp/