The precise details are unknown because resources describing those days have been lost, but it is said that Kenzô Gotô ran a pawnshop on Ichiba Street in Rokugô Town before moving to Hondochô around 1915 to establish Yachiyo Brewery. That year was celebrated with Emperor Taisho’s enthronement. With hopes for the nation’s prosperity and the brewery’s success, its name, which is also its saké brand name, was derived from the lyrics of the national anthem:
Kimigayo-wa chiyo-ni yachiyo-ni
“A thousand years or 8000 years of life be thine.”
The government policy during the war forced Yachiyo Brewery to suspend its saké production, after which it began making wine. However, it resumed saké brewing in 1948.
For many years, the bottles produced by Yachiyo Brewery were only sold locally. Sôichirô Gotô, the second-generation head of the brewery, started developing sales outside Akita Prefecture. A friend of Sôichirô who was working for a newspaper told him there was a popular sushi restaurant group named “Yachiyo Sushi” in Tokyo. He suggested that saké bottles of “Yachiyo” should be served there. After the proposal was rejected by the Sushi restaurant group, Soichiro tested many different brands of sakés with the name of “Yachiyo” throughout Japan and convinced sushi chefs that Yachiyo of Akita was best suited for the sushi they served.
The actual sales of bottles of Yachiyo at Yachiyo Sushi only started in 1982 after the death of Soichiro. However, the sales increased to almost 36,000 liters at its peak, and it continues to be popular to this day.
Rokugô is famous for the Rokugô Water Springs. Each spring has a name, such as “Niteko Shimizu” (“Niteko” is an Ainu word meaning “forest water,” while “Shimizu” is a Japanese word for “water spring”), which is well known for once being served to Emperor Meiji while he visited Akita. Another well-known spring is “Odaidokoro Shimizu” (“water spring for cooking”), which was used for cooking when the Lord of Satake visited the area to hunt with eagles (falconry). Because of those water springs, Yachiyo Brewery has no difficulty finding good water for brewing. Excellent techniques, superb local water, and excellent local rice were passed down from Tsurumatsu Nakano, who served the brewery as Tôji (Head Brewer) for more than 30 years, to Kazuo Saitô, the incumbent Tôji.