An ancestor of Bizen Shuzo Honten was a sailor. Approximately 300 years ago, he and his family moved from Bizen Province (present-day Okayama Prefecture) to Dewa Province (present-day Akita Prefecture) and established a business in marine products transported by Kitamae-Bune (a Japanese freight vessel). This is considered the origin of the Bizen family. Some say their origin goes further back to the Murakami pirates who were powerful in western Japan during the 15th and 16th centuries.
The brewery was founded in 1915 when Saiji Bizen asked his son, Yutarô Bizen, to brew saké. They must have inherited the entrepreneurship from their ancestor, who left Bizen Province and started a business in Akita, a location far away from their origins. Subsequently, Bizen Brewery began its operations, after which it soon gained a high reputation for its products.
Mansuke Tsuchida, a member of the House of Peers, named Bizen brewery’s saké Dainagawa after the Dainagon River, which flows across the Ômori District of Yokote City (Ômori Town until it merged with Yokote City in 2005). Like the river itself, Dainagawa has become the pride of the town. It was then that the brewery’s motto was born: “Make something that is enjoyed, such as delicious saké, and have it become the glory of the town.”
The brewery is located in Ômori in the southern part of Akita Prefecture. Ômori began in ancient times as a local trade town that flourished as a hub for water transportation. At the port, people exchanged many agricultural products, including rice and marine products, through the Kitamae route. During the Sengoku era (the Age of Civil Wars), Onodera Michitaka, the fourth son of Onodera Yasumichi, built Ômori Castle and made it the stronghold of the area. During the Edo era, the Satake Higashi family, a branch of the Satake family, was entrusted with managing the land. They promoted building weirs and reservoirs to develop new fields. The area maintained its importance during the Meiji era, during which commercial activities were developed. Currently, they have brick storehouses typical of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Dainagawa is brewed amongst the rich nature of the region, and the local people have a high affection for saké. Ômori Town is situated at the foot of the sacred mountain of Horowa, where Shimotsuki Kagura (“Divine Dance of November”), one of the most important intangible folk culture assets designated by the government, is practiced every year. Subsoil water for Dainagawa runs down from Mt. Horowa through the natural diatomite filter, which is unique in Japan.
The brewery uses Akita-grown saké rice. For junmaishu and higher categories of saké, rice from contracting farmers is used. They choose the yeast that best for Akita Saké Komachi rice, which was developed by the brewing laboratory of Akita Prefecture. The brewery uses local products as much as possible for brewing. In addition, employees prepare the materials with their own hands, which is an ancient method, and all the malted rice is prepared using the futa-kôji method. As for the yeast mash (moto), the brewery mainly uses sokujômoto (“fast fermentation”). Junmaishu is brewed in a small tank (up to 1.2 tons), and the brewery uses traditional saké cask, which leads an excellent saké-pressing process that produces a high amount of saké lees. The new brew has a fruity flavor (with a little tartness) and a crisp, dry taste, whereas the matured saké has less sourness but plenty of body and a sharp aftertaste.