There is a big brewery on the main road, Honmachi-dori. The unique atmosphere from the black wall fills the street with a sense of exoticism.
This is Kuramoto Yamada, a sake brewery founded in 1868. Kiso River flows through the center of the Yaotsu and has been renowned for it’s clean water from long ago. Breweries are made where there is clean water. This holds true for Yaotsu too.
Yaotsu has two breweries, and Kuramoto Yamada is the oldest of the two. Sake lovers from all over Japan come to this Kuramoto for the popular sake, Tamakashiwa.
The place name has changed with land rezoning, but the place where Kuramoto Yamada stands used to be called Tamai. The name of this place came from the Tama well. Water pumped from the well is used in the preparations.
The biggest particularity at Kuramoto Yamada is the home-polished rice. They change the polishing ratio (of white to brown rice) depending on the type of rice. In the malted rice room, which is insulated with rice bran, the malted rice is made over a 48 hour process. The 6th generation brewer at Kuramoto Yamada shared the difficulties of brewing sake with us. “The rice changes each year. So the sake also turns out slightly differently each year. Even so I would like to make good sake for our custombers. Every year making sake feels like a new learning process.”
This 6th generation brewer started out as a regular employee in a company.
”I worked at a trading company and it was my job to make things move. But instead of moving things around, I wanted make something. And that reminded me that my family was already in the business of making something. I understood that the climate and weather created challenges, but I thought it was worth it and I decided to inherit the business."
Life in Yaotsu is relaxing and he seems very fond of the current life as the water and the air are clean and taste good.”
There is a picture of the soccer player, Hidetoshi Nakata, in the store. Hide is known for his love of sake and it seems that he visited once.
Kuramoto Yamada’s best-seller is a sake called Tamakashiwa. It’s won many awards at Japanese sake exhibitions and the brewery is proud of the product. ‘288 Nights’ (Nihyaku Hachijuhachi Ya) is a sake named for the number of days it takes rice to become sake. It has a fruity taste and is popular among women. There are also a number of other Japanese sake choices with die-hard fans such as ‘Mukashino Manma’ (Never Changing) and ‘Kippo’ (Lucky Treasure).
Often as the subject of magazine articles, Kuramoto Yamada’s popularity and fame continues to grow.