Japan Trip 2010: Saiya Sake Brewery

With Mrs. Saito and Mr. Takahashi

My next visit in Japan was to Akita’s Saiya Shuzoten, makers of the famous Yuko No Bosha sakes. Mr. Kataro Saito was off on business, but his lovely wife Ms. Maki Saito and their Toji Mr. Takahashi gave me a nice tour of their brewery!

One of the beautiful things I noticed about Saiya Sake Brewery was the layout and unique structure of the buildings. From back to front, the facility, which they have nicknamed the “nobori-kura” is built on a gentle downward slope, similar in feeling to the Japanese noborigama or japanese sloped kilns used long ago to make pottery. The highest point of the slope in the back is where rice is delivered and milled, then the rice is transported by pipe using gravity and water to the main brewery building and it’s fermentation rooms. Next the finished sake flows down again to the pressing and storage area of the brewery.

Nobori-kura Layout of the brewery
photo © Saiya Shuzoten

Most interesting of all is how they reach the bottling and shipping building at the base of the hill, but which is actually separated from the main building by a busy, busy two way street. They simply built a pipe over the street that carries the sake to their new bottling facility – genius!

Now whenever I drink Yuki No Bosha sake I’ll know it once flowed over a busy highway to get to the bottle.

The Brewery, founded in 1902 also has a unique architectural melding – combining styles of Japanese architecture and early 20th century western architecture, especially noticeable on the facade; The complex was declared a Tangible Cultural Property by the Japanese Government in 1997.

Saiya Brewery Facade

The sake that Saiya Shuzoten creates at this lovely building is hand crafted and elegant. You can tell they strive for a true hand made artisinal taste over big box mass production and I couldn’t imagine it any other way. One of their signature products in the U.S. is the Yuki no Bosha Junmai Ginjo Nigori. This sake is a lighter style nigori that has a perfect balance and body. really delicious!

My Special thanks to the Saito family for all their kindness during my visit. I was delighted to see the birthplace of such wonderfully handcrafted sake! Check out the gallery below for more photos and comments from my visit to this fantastic sake Brewery!