Fukurokuju Brewing

The Watanabe family was originally from Mattô Town in Kaga Province (present-day Ishikawa Prefecture). The fami-ly fled the town when Oda Nobunaga attacked it to sup-press its autonomy in the late 16th century. In 1688, ap-proximately a century after their flight from Mattô, the fam-ily settled in Akita, and Hikobei Watanabe started brewing saké in the village of Gojôme. At that time, Tokugawa Tsu-nayoshi reigned as the fifth shogun of the Tokugawa sho-gunate. Overall, the brewery has a history lasting more than 300 years, which is rare even among the breweries in Akita.
Fukurokuju, from which the name of the brewery is taken, is the “God of Wealth and Longevity” and one of the seven deities of good luck. Fukurokuju (福禄寿) originates from three Chinese characters: Fuku (福), which means “blessing with many offsprings”; Roku (禄), which means “eternal prosperity of the family“; and Ju (寿), which means “long and healthy life.”
The history of the brewery is extremely long, and its build-ings give off an aura that attests to its many years of opera-tion. Even though the facilities are periodically updated, the original construction continues to be used at the brewery. The two kura buildings, business office and the president’s residence were registered as Japanese Cultural Property in 1996. Despite its simple structure, it has a stirringly power-ful impact. Its construction is reputed to be the original de-sign of the breweries in Akita, and it exudes the atmosphere of the Edo era. The floor plan of the office building is de-signed in the style of the early 20th century, which causes visitors to forget which era they are in after entering the building. The naturally filtered groundwater used in the brewing process is drawn from beneath the brewery. This is the same water that has been used since the founding of the brewery.
The saké brewery is located in Gojôme Town, which is 30 kilometers away from Akita City. The town is famous for its Akita Cedar, and it is surrounded by lush green mountains and rice fields. The town has long been defined by its pros-perous forestry business. At the center of the town, there is a morning market, which began in 1495 and has continued for more than 500 years. During the Edo era, the market was a well-known supply station for travelers looking to pur-chase essentials for their long journeys. Today, this market continues to bring in revenue from outside the prefecture and con-tributes to the town’s prosperity.
While Fukurokuju Brewery adheres to the historical and tradition-al method of brewing saké, customers’ tastes are always taken into consideration. In addition, the brewers are always striving to improve and test new methods of production. The fundamental point of brewing, which is always kept in mind, is to fully bring out the fine flavor of the rice and in-fuse it into the saké. The saké is made based on the follow-ing saying: “Watch out first for kôji, second for moto (shubo), and third for tsukuri (moromi).” The processes within the brewery are carefully watched to ensure consistency and proper practices.