”Saura Co., Ltd.” – Spreading the Miyagi ”sake” culture

”Saura Co., Ltd.”
- Spreading the Miyagi ”sake” culture

Providing sacred ”sake” to Shiogama Shrine

The name ”Urakasumi” must sound familiar to many people, not only to fervent ”sake” lovers. We visited Saura Co., Ltd., a brewery that makes this nationally famous ”sake”, and interviewed Koichi Saura, the 13th generation of the Saura family and owner of Urakasumi Sake Brewery, Saura Co., Ltd.
Urakasumi Sake Brewery was founded in 1724 to provide sacred ”sake” to Shiogama Shrine. Shiogama has a history of ”sake” brewing, and is a lively town with much traffic, Shiogama Shrine and Shiogama Port, one of the most important fishing and marine ports in the Tohoku region.

They now operate three breweries: ”Kyoho-gura” which is a 150 year old traditional ”dozo zukuri” building, ”Taisho-gura” which was made during the Taisho to Showa era, and ”Yamoto-gura” which is located in Higashimatsushima-shi. Together they make about 12,000 ”goku” (approx. 2,164,777 liters) of ”sake” annually. The company is indeed a leading ”sake” manufacturer of Miyagi.

Brewed using own yeast and locally produced rice

Nakata asked as he observed the brewing process, ”You use a lot of Toyonishiki. It’s an ordinary rice for eating, isn’t it?”
”Yes, Toyonishiki has been used for a long time in Miyagi, and won prizes in national contests. In the late 80’s, there was a time when all the brewers of Miyagi sought to make ”junmai shu”, and since Miyagi is a major rice production area, ordinary rice such as Sasanishiki or Toyonishiki were used to make ”sake”. It wasn’t until the 90’s when ”Kurano Hana”, a kind of rice made especially for ”sake”, became available.”
Saura Co., Ltd. is also known to have made a great contribution to improving the quality of local ”sake”. In addition to research and development, ”Nanbu toji” came together to train young ”toji”.
As a result ”Cooperative yeast No.12” was created. It was discovered in 1965 from ”Urakasumi Ginjo moromi”, and was called ”the first yeast of Miyagi” or ”Urakasumi yeast”, and was used by many breweries throughout Japan. Saura Co., Ltd. now brews most of its products with yeast cultured in-house, and locally produced rice.

How ”Urakasumi Zen” was born

Among the main products of Saura Co., Ltd., there is a signature label called ”Urakasumi Zen”. Saura told us the story of how this ”sake” was born. In the latter half of 1965, his predecessor heard about a monk who trained at Zuiganji Temple and was about to go to France to propagate Zen. His predecessor was inspired that ”Urakasumi should export and propagate Japanese ”sake” to France!” and started making ”ginjo shu”.

”At that time, we were not able to export, but it was necessary for us to differentiate our products from others in order for regional breweries like us to survive.” says Saura. The delicate and noble taste of ”Urakasumi Zen” made possible by slow and low temperature brewing became very popular, and started a ”ginjo shu” trend in Japan. Always looking ahead while continuing consistent ”sake” making. That may be the foundation of people’s trust for the ”Urakasumi” brand.

”Without reconstruction of the local community, there is no real reconstruction of our company.” After the Great East Japan Earthquake, the company was unable to process its top quality ”sake”. So instead of finishing the product, they made plum liqueur with the unfinished ”sake” and plums from Zao. The special plum liqueur has been served in many restaurants including those in Europe.
The company is spreading the ”sake” culture of Miyagi to the world, striving to make ”sake” loved not only by the local community, but by many people.


Urakasumi Sake Brewery Saura Co., Ltd.
2-19 Motomachi, Shiogama-shi, Miyagi
URL http://www.urakasumi.com/en/