Several regions in Japan are famous for great sake production, but none can claim the pristine, natural conditions of Saijo in Hiroshima Prefecture. It is truly one of the finest sources of superior sake in Japan.
Sake has been brewed in Saijo, a basin surrounded by 300 to 500 meter-high mountains, since about 1650, but the region began to flourish as a brewing center about a century ago. In addition to ideal natural conditions that include low temperatures of 4 to 5 ℃ during the brewing season, Saijo has also benefited from premium brewing techniques developed locally.
Sake is made from rice and water. But to brew the best sake, both must be pure. Saijo is blessed with an abundance of ideal sake-brewing water that comes from local wells that have been famous for generations.
Actually, Saijo’s very best water is concentrated in a very narrow strip of land. That’s why most of the area’s 9 sake breweries were established in a very small section of Saijo. It’s not hard to find; just look for the traditional black-and-white sake breweries with tall brick chimneys, packed together in one neighborhood.
There, Saijo’s water is combined with the pure rice grown in the Hiroshima plains and mountains. Then it’s brewed with care using techniques refined by the guild of the region’s master brewers, known as Hiroshima Toji. The result can only be called pure pleasure—revealed in the subtle flavors of Saijo sake.
While the ten breweries in Saijo share much in their history, water and rice, each has its own story to tell. So why not visit them all? All you need to know about sake, you will find in Saijo.
For every 1.8 liters of sake sold, the Saijo Sake Brewers Association donates one yen to a volunteer group that several times a year goes to the Ryuo mountains near Saijo to clean the mountains, collect wood, and make fertilizer from it to preserve nature and purify the water.
The National Research Institute of Brewing was originally established in 1904 by the Ministry of Finance of the Government of Japan with the aim of improving the quality of Japan’s alcoholic beverages and the stability of their production. It is the only research institute in the world focused on alcoholic beverages. For more information, visit: