Miyasaka Shuzo’s Masumi is a well known and well loved brand of sake in the U.S. and one that was among the very first sakes I ever tried. It was therefore a long, long overdue visit, when the stars aligned and I got a chance to visit Nagano Prefecture for the first time and see the home of the beloved Masumi Arabashiri for myself!
Mr. Miyasaka, President of Masumi, gave us a tour of the two Masumi Breweries, the original “Suwa Kura” and the larger “Fujimi Kura” which opened in 1982. The Suwa Kura is still in operation and has the distinction of being the birthplace of the famous “nanago” or Number 7 sake yeast, first identified in 1946, when Masumi swept the national Sake appraisal awards using this newly discovered yeast. A plaque marks the location of that first fermentation tank that used number 7 yeast… a yeast that is still used by 60% of breweries throughout Japan and a true point of pride for Masumi Brewery.
The Brewery Tour concluded at the Cella Masumi Shop – a wonderful store managed and curated with great love and attention to detail by Mr. & Mrs. Miyasaka. The shop is one of the most beautiful stores of it’s type I’ve ever seen. Certainly, there is sake for sale in a beautiful refrigerated cabinet. But the shop also features a glorious selection of sake cups, carafes, trays, sets and the like, all of the highest quality. The shop also features food, gifts, and all manner of wonderful goodies for the sake inclined. If you’re anywhere near Nagano, it’s worth a trip to Suwa to drop in on Cella Masumi Shop, for sure.
My sincere thanks to the Miyasaka family for welcoming me so warmly to their home and brewery. I have a deeper appreciation for their wonderful sakes having seen where they are made up close and personal. Now I know next year’s Arabashiri will taste all the better for it.