History of Kamotsuru:
Sake, Japan’s national drink, has been a part of the Japanese culture for many centuries. Kamotsuru, a sake brewery founded in 1873, is the largest of seven sake breweries in Saijo City, one of the Big Three Sake Regions in Japan. The name Kamotsuru directly translates into brew (Kamo) crane (Tsuru). In Japan, the crane is a bird that is associated with happiness and longevity. Kamotsuru, as the leading brewery in Saijo, was awarded the Honorary Grand Prize in the Paris World Exposition in 1900 and has earned over 100 medals at the Japan Sake Awards until today.
In the interview, Koichiro Okinaga, one of the Chief Brewers, shares an old saying used in Kamotsuru that describes the ideal taste of sake: “Ama-Kara-Pin-Uma.” Their ideal sake has a combination of these four elements: mildly sweet, dry, refreshing, and tasteful. To perfect sake that has all four elements, Kamotsuru believes in “Shu-Chu-Zai-Shin,” another keyword, which means “craftsmanship lives in its sake.” Brewers of Kamotsuru understand that quality of sake is not only determined by the ingredients, but also by the heart they put into the making of sake.
Among the many well-crafted sakes by Kamotsuru, perhaps the most well-known brand is “Kamotsuru Gold.” Kamotsuru Gold has a rich flavor with an elegant aroma. One of the features that make this sake stand out is the small “sakura shaped gold flakes” that are inside. You can enjoy these gold sakura flakes as you pour sake into a cup. Kamotsuru Gold is also well-known as the sake that President Obama and Prime Minister Abe enjoyed at Sukiyabashi Jiro (as you may know from “Jiro Dreams of Sushi”) in 2014.
In October 2019, Kamotsuru transformed its first cellar into an exhibition room that showcases their sake and explains the process of sake making. The exhibition room is open for anyone to visit, learn, and taste Kamotsuru’s sake. In efforts to help people from other countries learn more about Kamotsuru and its sake, all explanations are written in five different languages (Japanese, English, Chinese, Korean, and French.) They also offer an introductory video in four different languages (Japanese, English, Chinese, and French.)
Visiting Kamotsuru and Saijo City is highly recommended for those who consider themselves a sake enthusiast. Every October, there is a Sake Festival held in the area around JR Saijo Station where sake enthusiasts from all over the world come and taste the delicacies each brewery showcases.
Access to Saijo:
Saijo City is quite accessible from the center of Hiroshima. You can get to JR Saijo Station from JR Hiroshima Station via JR Sanyo Honsen in forty minutes, without a transfer. Kamotsuru is located less than five minutes away by foot from JR Saijo station.