Chiyomidori Brewing

Chiyomidori Brewery was created during the Empo period (1673–1681) in the early Edo era. Seeking water and rice suitable for brewing, Jûemon the First moved from Kyoto to Akita. One day in the early summer, inspired by the landscape around his brewery, he composed the following haiku (Japanese poem):

Wakaba hayuru shiho no yamayama Chiyomidori

“The everlasting green of young leaves are vividly shining on the surrounding verdant mountains.”

The representative saké brand of the brewery, Chiyomidori, was named after this poem.

Since then, the brewery was rebuilt a number of times due to a fire during the Boshin War (1868–1869) and other reasons. The current building dates back to the early Showa period in the second quarter of the 20th century. The current head of the brewery is the 18th generation.

The Kyôwa District of Daisen City lies in the Senboku plains, which comprise the largest rice-producing region in Akita Prefecture. The conditions of the area are perfect for brewing. It has a clean environment with a thick snow cover and cold temperatures in the winter. The Karamatsu Shrine, which is a well-known shrine at which hopeful soon-to-be parents pray for safe childbirth, is located across the street from the brewery. Approximately 40,000 people visit the shrine each year. The shrine has an approach lined with Japanese cedar trees that are more than 350 years old. It has an exceptional structure; while most shrines establish their main buildings on higher grounds, this building is built on lower land than the entrance. Thus, visitors must walk down the approach. Around 1900, production at a nearby Arakawa mine was at its peak, and casks full of saké were carried there in carts on a daily basis. During that time, Chiyomidori Brewery also reached its highest production period. Such prosperities at the mine can be seen at the Taiseikan Museum. This brewery uses purely cultivated yeast based on the idea that the flavor of saké is mainly determined by the quality of the rice, yeast, and water used during the brewing process. AK-1 (“Akitaryu hanakobo”) and K-9 are the yeasts mainly used at this brewery. It is said that even if the same types of rice and yeast are used, each brewery creates its own unique taste. Yeast fungi float in the air or inhabit fruits and nectar, but some types, called kuratsuki kôbo (“brewery-attached yeast”), have lived on the ceiling boards, ceiling joists, and mud walls of breweries for a long time. Every brewery produces different types of kuratsuki kôbo, and each set creates a scent and taste that are unique to each brewery. By getting into the brewing tanks, the kuratsuki kôbo add an extra flavor to the saké, which makes the saké characteristic of the brewery. The brewery’s main building is more than 90 years old. Throughout its history, the skills of the workers and the quality of the kuratsuki kôbo have developed alongside one another. Today, these two heritages collaborate to create the high-quality saké of Chiyomidori.

In 2012, kuratsuki kôbo MS3 (yeast separated from kuratsuki kobo) was discovered behind a thick joist of the brewery’s fermentation room; it is currently used to brew junmai daiginjô, junmai ginjô, and junmaishu. In addition, the head brewer, who is also the managing director, is aiming to improve and diversify the qualities of the brewery’s saké. He brews not only classic junmai ginjô but also saké with a fruity, fresh flavor. This brewery is currently creating saké that meets consumers’ needs by adopting new types of yeast developed by the brewing laboratory, such as types scented like apples and bananas. At the same time, however, the mellow, mild flavor of Chiyomidori continues to be maintained by the kuratsuki bunri kôbo MS3.