Yaoshin Shuzo Tour

  • Location: 山口県岩国市今津町3-18-9/ 3-18-9 Imazumachi, Iwakuni, Yamaguchi
  • Open to Public: Yes, by appointment
  • Cost: 200 yen for disposable clean suits
  • Production: 1,000 Koku (18,000 liters) produced from September through March

On Saturday, January 29th I had the perfect excuse opportunity to visit Yaoshin Shuzo, makers of Gangi, when a friend came to the area and the way from Switzerland.

Arline Lyons of Taste Translation came to the area in her recent trip to happen, and we meet up on a cold Saturday morning to tour this rising Star of the Yamaguchi sake world.

Arline Lyons, our guide, and me.

Yaoshin was founded in 1877, and took a long and winding road to get to its current success. In addition to sake brewing, they have made soy sauce, been a liquor wholesaler, and brewed beer. Now, under direction of 5th generation owner, president and Toji Hisashige Kobayashi, they’ve turned to pure junmai sake production.

Toji Kobayashi established the Gangi label in 2000 as the brewery’s first junmai, and now it has become their flagship name. All sake produced at Yaoshin is now junmai Gangi, made from Yamada Nishiki or Saito no Shizuku rice grown in Yamaguchi.

The tour starts in what they call the old kura. This building dates back to the Meiji era, and is now mostly given over to storage and end of line processing: pressing, storage, racking and such.

The actual brewing is now done in the “new kura,” a two story building completed last summer with all the latest equipment and an elevator so the kurabito didn’t have to haul the steamed rice upstairs to the brewing rooms on their backs any more!

Rice washing and drying room
Automatic rice washers

Gangi follows an unusual brewing period. Kura usually follow the old tradition of winter brewing, from late October-November through March, or a year-round brewing. Gangi, however, brew from September through March. They produce 1000 koku a year of high quality junmai, junmai ginjo and junmai daiginjo.

Kome Koji
New Koji Muro
Shubo room
Shubo (sake mash starter)

There was some worry about the move, since sake brewing is so dependent on environment and microorganisms, but they recently shipped their first batch from the new kura and reports are positive so far!

Tank of Junmai Moromi. Yamada Nishiki, Seimaibuai 60%, Yeast: Kyokai 1501

Moromi demonstrating the low foam of a -01 yeast
Tank of Junmai Daiginjo Moromi. Yamada Nishiki, Seimaibuai 60%, Yeast: Kyokai 9H
Highly foamy moromi made with 9H, a “ginjo” yeast

I want to thank Kobayashi Toji and our guide for the warm welcome and recommend anyone who has the chance to go see for themselves.

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