Brewery Visit to Saito Shuzo

Brewery Visit to Saito Shuzo

One of our team’s favourite brands, among those produced in Fushimi’s Sake District, is Eikun. This brand of sake has a completely different taste depending on its grade and kind.

We offer samplings of Eikun on our Kyoto Insider Sake Experience tour. Its fruity flavor is popular with tourists from all over the world. Saito Shuzo, located along the Takase River in Fushimi is the brewery which produces Eikun.

We had a chance to visit this brewery on 9th October, on the same day that this year’s new batch of sake had just been made available. Mr Nakamura, the manufacturing manager, gave us a behind-the-scenes tour of his brewery.

In the Brewery Saito Shuzo

The current sake brewmaster (or ‘toji’ in Japanese) at Saito Shuzo is Mr Urai. He belongs to an organization called Nanbu Toji, founded originally in Iwate prefecture. The brewmaster, or toji, is responsible for managing and directing the entire sake-making process. It requires abundant experience, knowledge and skill to become a toji.
They say that the quality of staff at Saito Shuzo is such that many of them have the same level of skill as the highest qualified ‘toji’. When we heard that, we came up with a simple question – when multiple superior people work together, how can things operate smoothly? However, at Saito Shuzo, it seems there is no problem in balancing the egos of excellent brewers. These highly skilled professionals work together with the joint aim of creating something great. It’s as simple as that. After hearing these stories we could easily see why the sake produced by this team has such an appeal.

Secret of Making Sake

Even in such an environment where human skill is undeniable, the use of machines is not disregarded. In the brewery, where machines are best placed to complete a step in the sake making process, they’re employed to do so. The brewer constantly checks and manages each of these processes – so the human touch is always there, to ensure the sake quality is never compromised.

During our visit, the chilling machine was cooling down the steamed rice.

A brewer was constantly checking both the steamed rice and the cooled rice.

The steamed rice was made up of rice polished to 45%. It was shining like a jewel.
For the first time ever, we were able to try a sample of the steamed rice from this stage of the sake-making process. The rice was unexpectedly hard, and very different from typical cooked food rice. This steamed sake rice will become Kotosennen Junmai Daiginjo, which you can read about in our article “Top 4 Bottles you must try in Kyoto”.

The steamed rice made up of rice polished to 45%

Sake Tasting

After our guided tour of the brewery was complete, they invited us to a sake tasting session. We tasted Junmai Daiginjo “Ichigin”, made using Yamada Nishiki sake rice, thought of as ‘the king of sake rice’. The rice has been polished to 35%, and the sake was  ‘junmai nama genshu’, meaning it was unfiltered sake, with no added water or heat sterilization. On top of this, it was also a ‘junmai koshu’, or ‘aged sake’.

テイスティング

Bottles that they produce

The brewery has won many prizes

After the tasting, we couldn’t help ourselves but buy a bottle of Junmai Namagenshu 24 H (a type of nama genshu which is bottled within 24 hours after squeezing) and Koto Sennen Junmai.

Saito Shuzo opens their brewery for visitors in March and October every year. This is a must-do for genuine fans of Japanese sake.

For those who can’t visit due to time restrictions, you can always try some of Saito Shuzo brewery’s sake by picking up a bottle when you’re in the area. Or, join us on a Kyoto Insider Sake Experience tour, where you’ll get to try and learn about a variety of sake and the secrets of the brewing process (including our beloved Eikun!) first-hand.

When visiting Kyoto, you can’t miss a sake tour of Fushimi – so why not join us on a hunt for the area’s best sake, and find your favourite along the way?

TOURS

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Our Sake Tour Reviews

  •   My cousin and I went to this 'sake experience' and what an experience! Kotaro is very welcoming and sweet. He simply created a nice and relaxed atmosphere. The 'Kyoto insider sake experince' is both educational and very interesting. Also, it was interesting to learn more...More

    thumb sidsenoerregaard
    8/18/2019
  •   Kotaro spoke excellent english. History of area was very interesting. Sake factory tour was informative and detailed. Got to try many different types of sake back at the HQ with excellent food and an informative review and taste description of each sake. Everything I could...More

    thumb bjpw98
    8/15/2019
  •   Kotaro explaind a lot of things and it was really interesting. It was great to test diffrent type of sake and to know what the diffrences were abbout them. With a little bit of excersie you can read the sake bottles without any help. We...More

    thumb Kira95714
    8/12/2019
  •   Had a great time with this tour, it was easy to find, just down the street from the train station we used to get there. From there it was a small walk to the brewery we visited and was an overall great experience and learned...More

    thumb Mark E
    8/07/2019
  •   great experience with Kotaro. came here with friends. he knows his stuff and is extremely passionate and professional. the food pairing with sake was A+++. thanks!

    thumb Paradise397570
    8/01/2019
  •   We were not well versed on Sake. Trying it here and there. Well now I feel like an expert. The process explanation as well as finding your preferred taste with and without food. Thanks Kotaro was lovely to meet you. The small group was also...More

    thumb Nscook13
    7/27/2019
  •   Had a blast learning about Sake with Rieko and Kotaro. Great value for money as we tasted 10 different kinds of Sake. Each sake was unique, and when paired with food was a whole different experience. One pair even tasted like Tiramisu! Great in any...More

    thumb jingumai
    7/27/2019
  •   A fantastic introduction to the world of sake - the brewery gave us an appreciation of the work and traditions that go into the making of sake. Amazing to find out how long they have been making it and why Kyoto is such an excellent...More

    thumb Clare R
    7/22/2019
  •   We really enjoyed the tour of the brewery in combination with the sake tasting. Not only was the teacher well versed in the material, but he was able to convey the information in a way that we could understand and remember. We used our new...More

    thumb bootop
    7/22/2019
  •   Great way to spend an afternoon in Japan! The class teaches how to interpret, appreciate, and pair different kinds of Sake. An included Sake brewery tour was also a fun way to learn more about the history of the beverage before trying it. Kotaro was...More

    thumb Chillpenguin
    7/21/2019

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