I recently got the chance to sit down with Mr. Junichi Yageta, who works for the very well regarded Fukumitsuya Sake Brewery.
Fukumitsuya Brewery, founded in 1625 in Kanazawa City in Ishikawa Prefecture, is the producer of the “Kagatobi” brand of sake – an emerging brand in the US market and very much work a look. I enjoy this sake tremendously and was therefore excited to learn more from Yageta-san.
Q: Yageta-san, Thank you for meeting with me today. Tell me, what are your responsibilities at Fukumitsuya Brewery?
Yageta-san: I’m actually a salesman for the company working in the Tokyo office. Recently, our Company opened up to overseas export and I was assigned to work in the Export Sales division.
Yageta-san: As a student, when I was 22 or 23 years old, I took the Sake Sommelier exam with the SSI (Sake Service Institute). I really enjoyed sake and I thought this would be a good opportunity to learn about it. I then worked for 7 years in the hospitality industry at the Four Seasons hotel in Tokyo. When I was 30, I went to Australia for 1 year to learn English. When I returned to Japan I began looking for a job where I could use both my Sake and English skills. I found a job with the Fukumitsuya Brewery and have been working there for 2 or 3 years.
Q: Is there anything special in the nature or climate of Ishikawa Prefecture that enhances Katatobi sake?
Yageta-san: Ishikawa is really well known for the great water they have there. It’s very famous. This is why many famous breweries are found there.
Q: How long has Kagatobi been available in the US
Yageta-san: Kagatobi has only been available for the last 2 or 3 years. Our Importer, Nishimoto Trading Company, approached us about selling our sake in the United States. Previously, we didn’t have staff in place for export, but after some re-organization, we got our export going. Currently Kagatobi is not so well known, but we are working on becoming well recognized here.
Yageta-san: I think the water. We have a special well water at Kagatobi and there is a special bamboo tap at our well. You can actually drink the same water we use to make the sake from the tap. Many American visitors we get to our brewery take a picture of this and enjoy drinking this water. Also, local people come to our brewery with Tanks to fill up on our special water. Water is really important in the sake making process.
Q: How many people work at your brewery? is it big or small?
Yageta-san: It’s big as far as regional sake production is concerned. Some people do say our brewery is big for a “jizake” brewery. We staff about 100 people. To give an idea of the scale, last year Fukumitsuya Brewery was ranked around 30th~40th in production volume for all breweries in Japan. I think that is a big company. Also, our company is the biggest of the “junmai-Gura”, or brewery making only junmai “pure rice” sake. Visitors are usually surprised by the size of our production and storage facility when they come to see us.
Thank you so much, Yageta-san, for taking the time for an UrbanSake.com Interview! Ganbatte for your work on getting Kagatobi sake well known in the US. I know you will have much success as I find Kagatobi to be delicious. I hope you have a chance to visit us again soon.