Shimizucho, to the south-east of Nara Park is renowned for its natural spring water.
Prior to the Edo period (1603 - 1868), many sake breweries were established in this area.
From 1877, Yagi Sake Brewery succeeded one of the traditional breweries.
We interviewed Mr. Takeki Yagi , the 5th generation representative of the Yagi Sake Brewery tradition.
Abundant, blessed water, from the sacred mountains
Yagi Sake Brewery is located at the foot of Mt. Kasuga Primeval Forest.
It is said that the water that flows underneath the surface of this mountain, is blessed by the grace and abundant nature of the forest, which in turn has been protected by the gods of Kasugataisha shrine that inhabit the mountain.
At Yagi Sake Brewery, this water is drawn from a deep water well inside the brewery precinct, and is carefully used to manufacture sake.
Preserving the traditional techniques of Nara sake brewing
During the Muromachi period (1333 - 1573), Nara's refined sake became favored under the name 'Nanto Morohaku' (refined sake using peeled rice from Nanto, the southern capital).
In addition, it is said that prior to the manufacturing of 'Morohaku', the technology to make yeast starter for sake had already been developed at Shoryakuji Temple, famous for its sake 'Bodaisen'.
In recent years, the endeavors to instill a revival of this 'Bodai' yeast mash have taken shape, and Yagi Sake Brewery has played its part in this effort. In 1999, they succeeded in reproducing this inaugural yeast mash.
Today Yagi Sake Brewery employs this yeast starter to manufacture the high-quality sake brand 'Shohei', which successfully connects Nara's proud tradition of sake brewing to the present day.
The charm of a traditional sake vendor's wide range of produce
As one would expect from a traditional liquor store, the interior is lined with products ranging from various kinds of sake - of course including 'Shohei' - as well as shochu and liqueurs. Spending time in this environment, perhaps while tasting their 'Tsukigase plum liqueur' - with its beautifully designed label with the motif of Japanese playing cards - you may start to feel transported back in time.
The flavour of 'Shohei' sake is truly genuine.
It was awarded the Silver Prize at the London Sake Challenge in 2016, hosted at Harrods. The brewery is open to field trips by reservation.
Should you find yourself wandering through Nara, then this sake brewery is one to put on your to-do list.
915, Takabatakecho, Nara-shi, Nara, 630-8301, Japan
Business hours 9am to 5pm (Closed on Saturday, Sunday, public holidays and over New Year)
Brewery tours are available on reservation (maximum of 20 people), and are free of charge. Please inquire about availability by phone, prior to your visit.
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