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Making ”sake” loved by a master artist

Making ”sake”
loved by a master artist

DATA
Morishima Shuzo Co., Ltd.
1-17-7 Kawajiricho, Hitachi, Ibaraki Prefecture
http://www.taikan.co.jp/

 

”Sake” making in a seaside town

Morishima Shuzo sake brewery was founded in the 2nd year of Meiji, or 1869. It’s a ”sake” brewery with 140 years of history in the ”nanbu toji” tradition. Presently, 6th generation brew master Seiichiro Morishima is responsible for overseeing ”sake” brewing. The brewery stands only several dozens of yards from the ocean, where one can feel the sea breeze and hear the waves, and is known as the closest brewery to the sea in Japan.
The water for making ”sake” comes from a well in the brewery. The underground water is connected to the underground stream from Mt. Abukuma, and is rich in minerals, and is classified as somewhat ”hard” water. ”Hard water causes faster fermentation and the ”sake”will ferment faster than expected if you let it run free, so it is important to keep your reins tight. ” said Morishima. He said one of his themes is to brew ”sake” that will goes well with a fish meal. He stresses balance with food, and a taste that doesn’t bore the drinker.

Crowning the ”Taikan” brand

One of the premium brand ”sake” made by Morishima Shuzo is ”Taikan”. One of the greatest artists in Japanese style painting from Ibaraki Prefecture was Taikan Yokoyama who had a long relationship with Morishima Shuzo. He was a lover of ”sake”, and in 1958 a ”sake” brand was named after him. The ”Taikan” was born. One of the Taikan label bears artwork by Taikan himself. ”Wow! This bottle is amazing!” exclaimed Nakata. The rice used in ”sake brewing” are Yamada Nishiki grown in Hyogo Prefecture, and Ibaraki grown Miyama Nishiki and Hitachi Nishiki , both of which are grown with low pesticide methods.

When we visited, he let us see the mash made from ”Omachi (type of rice). ”It’s difficult to make ”sake” from this, but the ”sake” made with this is very tasty” Morishinma’s face gleamed as he explained. When Nakata asked him of projects he planned for the future, he replied ”There is a ”sake” rice called ”Hitachi Nishiki”. It’s hard to get a lot of flavor from that rice, but I want to be able to draw out the taste from the rice. I want to master that process. When I deliver the finished ”sake” to Tokyo, I’d like to make it so that people can feel the Ibaraki in it.”

After the Great East Japan Earthquake

The Great East Japan Earthquake of March 11, 2011, and the series of quakes that followed caused a lot of damage to the brewery. ”We even though it might be impossible to continue making ”sake” here. ” recalled the 5th generation brew master Shinichiro Morishima. A total of 2000 liters of ”sake”, in various stages of production were lost. ”It’s not just the products.”
The stone built brewery building that was rebuilt after the old one was destroyed by war damages was half destroyed. That meant the the the brewery and the bottling warehouse had to be either rebuilt or repaired, for the fear of secondary damages from a major crack in the walls caused by a shift of the ground. Because of some special techniques used to build the stone building, the repair took 2 months and half to complete.
While overcoming this crisis, rice was steadily growing in the field. The rice harvest in 2011 was good, and the fermentation of ”sake” also went well. So they recovered from the damages, and thus we were able to taste various ”sake” on our visit. Challenges continue at Morishima Shuzo Brewery .

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