The Ichinokura logo represents the four founding families,
and was created to convey the importance of human connection.
In 1973, four sake breweries-Asami Shoten, Kachiki Shuzoten, Sakurai Shuzoten, and Matsumoto Shuzoten-merged to form Ichinokura Co., Ltd. The Matsuyama area of Osaki, Miyagi Prefecture is located in the center of the Sendai Plain, the representative farm belt of Japan. Matsuyama has been well known from ancient times for its fine quality rice, and has prospered as an agricultural and brewing town. In the founding of Ichinokura, these two essentials were most highly valued:
1 A return to our origins
Returning to the origins of brewing fermentation by brewing sake by hand, using all five of the senses;
2 A reversal of thinking
Thinking not only in terms of sake, but aiming to develop agriculture
through partnerships between farmers and brewers, and to revitalize our community as a whole.
These essentials continue to be treasured as they are passed down from one generation to the next. We remain undaunted in our efforts to create a rich variety of sake and cuisine using traditional methods with the latest brewing technology.
Over 90% of the rice used in Ichinokura sake brewing is grown locally in Miyagi Prefecture. In order to acquire fine-quality rice, we first began by securing growing contracts with local farmers, and, starting in 2004, we established our own in-house Agriculture Department to promote sustainable agriculture that minimizes our environmental impact and helps support local farmers through the cultivation of fine-quality rice. We are currently working on cultivating our own rice and we aim to develop a cultivation method for fine-quality rice best suited for sake brewing.
Water is a raw ingredient that makes up 70-80% of sake, and is, therefore, one of the most important elements to determining the taste of sake. We at Ichinokura have a drilled well on the brewery premises, and we bring up underground water from a depth of 100 meters to use in our sake brewing. The reason we located our brewery here, in this naturally-abundant location, is because we have access to great-tasting soft water from the rich underground resources here.
There are 40 brewery workers at Ichinokura, under the supervision of the brewery toji, and who use the techniques of the Nanbu Toji School (one school of sake brewing) to brew fine sake completely by hand. We firmly believe that making sake by hand using our five senses is best when we optimize the management of the rice that goes into our sake, which differs in quality by weather conditions, variety and cultivation method, and when we manage the activity of the microorganisms that go along with the fermentation. The rice koji making, the most important process in sake brewing, is dutifully attended to by brewery workers night or day.
Miyagi Prefecture, the home of Ichinokura, is not only famous for its rice, it is also known as a shokuzai okoku (or 'Food Kingdom') for its abundance of food, such as the bountiful seafood from the sea along the Sanriku coast as well as the rich agricultural and livestock products from the land. Ichinokura takes very seriously our role in producing a sake taste that enhances this food. We also adapt to the changes in food culture by continuing to produce a variety of new products our devotees may enjoy with their cuisine.
A brewery Committed to
Both Tradition and Innovation
“Mukansa”, Ichinokura’s signature sake-
The challenge began here
Japan formerly had a sake tax system where sake would be ranked by quality and taxed according to that rank. The best-quality sake would receive a high ranking, but would also be subject to high taxes. However, in 1977, we released Ichinokura “Mukansa” Honjozo sake, the second class sake, whose quality was equal to the grand class sake without the evaluation. We stood up to the sake tax system at the time and noted on our labels that it was the customer, and not anyone else, who would really judge our sake. This sake tax system was abolished in 1992, but we still maintain this spirit, and our sake is appreciated by many customers around the world.
A low-alcohol sake-
The challenge began here
In the 1980s, while liquors around the world with a variety of tastes were being produced, the Japanese sake industry was still mired in the same uniform taste for sake, so we began development of an all-new Japanese sake that applied traditional brewing techniques to make a Japanese sake unlike any other Japanese sake. The quintessential innovative sake of Ichinokura are “Himezen”, a sweet and fruity sake with only half the alcohol content of regular sake, and “Suzune”, a sparkling sake that produces delicate bubbles when poured in a glass.