Japan Trip 2010: Akita Seishu Sake Brewery

Dewatsuru Tasting

With a visit to Akita Seishu Sake Brewery, you really get two, two, two Breweries in one! You see Akita Seishu makes sake under two Brands in two facilities including both the Kariho and Dewatsuru labels.

I interviewed Mr. Yohei Ito of Dewatsuru back in February. After that interview, I was excited to see Akita Seishu for myself and now I had the chance.

When I arrived at Akita Seishu, I was able to briefly meet with the brewery President Mr. Tasturu Ito before getting a full tour of both facilities from Product Manager Mr. Sado and Brewery Employee Ms. Sasaki. We started in the Kariho facility where we toured the building and I was surprised by not only the beauty of the building but by the number of fune (‘boat-shaped’ or old fashioned style sake press) they had at Kariho. Sado-san and Sasaki-san went on to explain that the Kariho brand prides itself on the “six fune” they use to press ALL the sake for Kariho. It’s more labor intensive, but produces the taste they want. They even have a kariho sake named “Rokushu” or “six boats/fune” in honor of their pressing method.

Fune or Boat-shaped Sake press

After the Kariho tour and a short drive, we arrived at the Dewatsuru brewery facility. Right when entering the building there is a beautiful and seeming magical fountain flowing with “Shikomi Mizu” or the pure, natural brewing water piped down from the local mountains.

In addition to sizable koji, moto and moromi rooms, the Dewatsuru facility also has a large milling building that produces all the milled rice for the facility. After my tour, it was time to taste Dewatsuru which I really enjoyed. I actually noticed that Dewatsuru was widely distributed in Shops throughout Akita.

I thought my visit was winding down, but then we hopped in the car again to visit the bottling and again building in yet a third location. This large facility is where all Kariho and Dewatsuru is bottled, pasteurized and stored for shipping. How do they get the sake to the bottling? I was wondering the same thing… turns out the company owns a specially designed tanker truck used to transport all sake to this building!

What a day! Three sake facilities toured in one morning! My special thanks to the Ito family for receiving me so warmly and of course to Mr. Sado and Ms. Sasaki for taking me around, helping me learn so much and for the wonderful tastings too!