Tochigi, Utsunomiya – Brewer: Inoue Seikichi – Founded 1868
Inoue Seikichi Company lies in Utsunomiya. The young Toji and owner of this brewery, Hiro Inoue, believes it is very important that this brewery use everything from his local area, from the rice down to playing the music of a local artist to the sake during the brewing season. The local rice used is primarily Hitogokochi and Gohyakumangoku, the yeast strains are from Tochigi prefecture, and the brewers are all local members of the community. Inoue thinks that sake making should be fun and enjoyable. His puckish nature is reflected in every sake he makes. His passion and skill earned his Sawahime Daiginjo the vote for the “best in the world” at the 2010 International Wine Challenge held in London.
Making a commitment to his craft and culture, Inoue with the help of two other brewers, has formed a Master Brewers School, named “Shimotsuke Toji”, in his prefecture of Tochigi. The declining number of Toji and the aging of the sake industry in Japan is a continuing issue for sake brewers and sake lovers, so this unusual move to create a new school with a younger generation of brewers is a welcome development.