Kariho Brewing

The historic kura-style building of Kariho Brewery was built in 1850. At that time, Japan was beginning to open up as a country after centuries of national isolation. The brewery was situated along the Omono River, a major river used for wa-ter transport in Akita. This location significantly helped product distribution. In 1913, Kyônosuke Itô, who had been brewing saké in a neighboring village, adopted the brewery and established a saké-brewing business with his colleagues. The history of the brewery was built on this foundation. The name KARIHO originates from a waka poem written by Em-peror Tenchi (626-671) during the Asuka era:
Akino-ta-no kariho-no-io-no toma-o-arami waga-koromode-wa tsuyu-ni nure-tsu-tsu
“Out in the fields this autumn day, they’re busy reaping grain; I sought for shelter ‘neath this roof, but fear I sought in vain, ― My sleeve is wet with rain.” (Translated by William N. Porter, 1909)
This poem shows affection for the lives of farmers plowing the fields and holds a deep meaning for saké brewers.
Kariho Brewery is located in the Senboku Plains, a major grain-producing area in Akita Prefecture. The climate there includes four distinct seasons that create appropriate condi-tions for saké brewing. For example, the summers and au-tumns are warm and humid (the ideal environment for cul-tivating saké rice), while the cold, snowy winters create the perfect atmosphere for brewing. The kura is situated along the banks of the Omono River, where the waters from the Ou Mountains flow. This river has blessed the area with an abundance of pure water, which has created a highly fertile agricultural region.
Kariho’s saké is born from the techniques of the masterful Tôji (Head Brewer), the new instincts of the young brewer, and the delicate sensibility of the female brewer. The assim-ilation of these three elements creates saké with a new taste that is based on traditional methods. The water used at Ka-riho Brewery runs off the Ou Mountains and saturates the soil to become natural ground water. It is filtered through the gravel bed surrounding the kura, and it is abundantly available as spring water throughout the year. This water is rich in natural minerals, and it has characteristics that help facilitate the fermentation process.  
The signature characteristic of Kariho brewing is junmaishu, which is brewed over a 60-day period using the Yamahai method. Natural lactic acid bacteria are used in the early stage of the fermentation process, and the progress is then carefully monitored because it occurs over a long period and at low temperatures. This brewing process results in a saké with various flavor components and a refined, silky taste. Yamahai-brewed saké, with its delightful finish, pairs well with many dishes and brings out the flavor of food. The fi-nal step in the Kariho- brewing process is the traditional sakabune shibori. All the saké brewed at Kariho Brewery is pressed. Since this process takes a significant amount of time and effort, very few remaining breweries continue this tradition. The saké, pressed for two days, achieves a harmo-nized aging process while preserving its overall balance of flavor as well as the strong characteristic flavor of Kariho.