The Brewery Where Fireflies Live (Thursday, March 1st, 2012)
Known as the producer of Tenzan and Shichida sake lines, Tenzan Sake Brewery is actually located at the foot of a chain of mountains called Tenzan (Celestial Mountain) in Saga Prefecture. The area is blessed with an abundance of natural resources, and particularly the Gion River in front of the brewery is famous for pristine water that attracts fireflies, making the place a recognized firefly landmark. Taking advantage of this natural resource was a water-milling business, which continued on to a noodle making business prior to the establishment of the brewery. In 1875, they entered the sake brewing industry, having bought the sake brewing facilities from a brewer going out of business, and making full use of the high quality water resource.
With the aim of enriching and fulfilling their customers’ minds through sake culture, the brewery constantly strives to introduce something new to their business and develop innovative products as well as incorporating their deep connections with their local community. This is demonstrated in their history: their businesses transitioned from water milling to noodle making to sake brewing, they built pioneering warehouses, and started growing their own sake rice. Their innovative spirit has been passed down for centuries up to the current president, sixth generation Kensuke Shichida, with the brewery maintaining three philosophies: “quality first”, “timelessness and timeliness” and “harmony brews good sake”.
The epitome of their innovative spirits can be seen in their recent effort to make the Shichida series. Against the industry trend of making daiginjo class sake with a higher rice polishing rate to get clean flavor, Tenzan Sake Brewery began ten years ago to engage in making delicious sake with the lowest possible percentage of polished rice. This has been quite a challenge because low percentages of polished rice have a tendency to produce excessive, unwanted flavors. Regardless of the difficulties, they successfully developed exquisite sake with plenty of umami and rice flavor, which naturally pairs well with meals. Four sakes from the series are currently available in the U.S. market and are sure to become a house favorite.
Tenzan Sake Brewery Company
Three things you should know about Tenzan Sake Brewery
1. Famed firefly waters of the Gion River flow in front of the brewery. The birthplace of the Genji firely, it is known throughout the nation as a famous spot for fireflies. The brewery uses water that shares its source with the Gion River, which is designated as one of Japan’s 100 purest spring waters.
2. The second-generation president of the brewery had a strong passion for architecture and actively worked on constructing sake warehouses. Made at their respective times the Meiji-gura Warehouse, Taisho-gura Warehouse, Showa-gura Warehouse and up-light waterwheel and its waterways are each registered as a national cultural property and a Saga Prefecture heritage site. These facilities are still in use.
3. Under the supervision of young master brewer, Jun Goto, and with the company philosophy, “harmony brews good sake”, a younger brewing team strives to make quality sake. In addition, since 1999 they have also devoted themselves to growing Yamadanishiki rice in an expanding rice field right in front of the brewery.