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“Sake” cellar of Niigata ”Kusumi Shuzo”

“Sake” cellar of Niigata
”Kusumi Shuzo”

DATA
KUSUMI SAKE PRODUCT & CO., LTD.
1537-2 Ojimaya Nagaoka-shi Niigata Prefecture
http://www.kamenoo.jp/

Devotion to rice farming and sake brewing from one generation to the next

Kusumi Shuzo, with over 170 years of history, was established by Sakunosuke Kusumi in 1833. Washima Mura, a quiet village where Kusumi Shuzo is located, is in the central part of Niigata near the coastline. The area, surrounded by gently sloping mountains and the sea, is also where the Buddhist priest Ryokan passed away. The brewery has been making ”sake” using traditional methods in this small Niigata village, which is blessed with the rich nature of the snowy Niigata region. It has been hit 3 times by natural disasters over the past 20 years, but that has not stopped the brewery’s ”sake” making.

Kusumi Shuzo’s passion for rice growing and ”sake” brewing became a motif for the ”manga” ”Natsuko No Sake” (Kodansha) by Akira Oze). The ”manga” later became a TV drama of the same name in 1994 (Fuji Television Network). The drama brought attention to Kusumi Shuzo’s devotion for ”sake” making, not only in Japan but the series was also televised in New York and Taiwan. It also drew the attention of the younger generation and women, groups that formerly didn’t have interest in ”sake”. The drama had a huge impact on the industry.

Bringing back ”Kameno-O” rice to make superb ”sake”

Norimichi Kusumi, the sixth head of Kusumi Shuzo, was worried about the future of Japanese ”sake”. Hearing comments from a senior Echigo Toji ”I can never forget the taste of Ginjoshu made from ”Kameno-O” rice”, he was inspired to make ”sake” from the illusory rice ”Kameno-O” (tail of a tortoise). His ”sake” making adventure started with the search for the long lost ”Kameno-O” rice, and in 1980, he was able to get hold of just 10 ears, approximately 1500 grains of seed rice. He persuaded local rice farmers to raise the rice using organic farming, and succeeded in producing premium ”sake” ”Kameno-O” (old turtle).

Sake is like the breeze created by the harmony of rice, water, humanity, and nature

Kusumi Shuzo works under the philosophy that ””sake” is like the breeze created by the harmony of rice, water, humanity, and nature”. They believe that good ”sake” is made by using self-grown rice, water nurtured by the land, and harmony with the local people”. In the mountain behind Kusumi Shuzo, are Japanese cedar trees over 150 years old, and clear spring water flows abundantly. Kusumi Shuzo uses this spring water and Niigata-grown rice to brew ”sake”.
”Kiyoizumi 7 Daime” is the “sake” produced by Yoshitaka Kusumi , the seventh head of the brewery with young brewery staff. They aimed to create ”sake” ”like a simple flower blooming in nature”. Its soft ”umami” and fragrance are a beautiful match, creating a gentle flavor. You can feel the passion of Kusumi and his young staff just by tasting it.
Japanese ”sake” is ”an art created with rice and water”. The nature of Niigata and the honed ”sake ”making skills of ”Echigo Toji, or the Niigata brewers,” are sure to work together and stimulate the future of Niigata ”sake” culture.

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