Story by Takumi Sato
My inspiration to become a master brewer came from the former owner of the kuromato (brewery) here in Oirase, part of the Towada-Hachimantai National Park. He had a phrase that translates roughly as, “local sake is the crystal of local food culture.”
I know how special this location is and I believe that our sake represents that in a particular way. We capture the essence of Oirase at the brewery and that’s how we share it with others. This is my personal motivation – letting others feel that magic.
I began making sake in 1990, but I did not become a toji (master brewer) until 2004. Becoming a toji is not simply about passing the examination. Personally, I believe that you must understand how sacred sake is and be mindful of the traditions that have been passed down through generations. I have pursued these traditions with a particular devotion and will continue to do so every day until I die.
Sake is the national drink of Japan, not simply because we like drinking it, but because we see it as a blessing from the gods. It is inherent to our culture and way of life, from the religious rites of thousands of years ago to the dinner table today.
We commemorate every occasion with sake, from births and weddings to New Year celebrations, Memorial Day and funerals. Some people drink sake every day, and of course you can, but it is usually served with meals and enjoyed with others. When you drink sake with friends or family, you must not pour it for yourself. First serve others and then someone else will serve you.
The unique flavor of our sake is a direct result of the environment here in Oirase. Here, you’ll see we’re near the lake, and the water that flows through the Hakkoda mountain range to Oirase is some of the purest on Earth. Not only is the landscape breath taking, but the sake produced here is at the highest level. It reveals the distinct umami in dishes.
When you travel through the Towada-Hachimantai National Park to Oirase, you can immerse all five senses on your journey. The Japanese culture will enrich and enthral you. I personally look forward to welcoming you here and sharing with you our sacred drink from the gods.
Takumi Sato, a master brewer of sake, takes you under his wing for a special guided visit to his brewery in Oirase, describing the history and importance of sake to Japanese culture.