The coldest part of winter with its dancing snowfall is the busiest time of the year for Kanazawa’s sake distilleries. Around this time, each sakagura (sake brewery) in Kanazawa enters its peak season of sake brewing. Ishikawa Prefecture, with its cold winters and heavy snowfall, is perfectly suited to sake brewing and is said to be one of the leading sake regions in Japan. There are many established sakagura in Kanazawa, taking pride in their time-honoured tradition while seeking new and innovative tastes.
Water and sake-rice are the principal ingredients of sake and are key in determining its quality. The nearby Hakusan Mountain range ensures that Kanazawa has an abundant supply of fresh, pure water which is high in minerals and low in iron, making it ideally suited to the cultivation of yeast. Local sake breweries have long used premium sake-rice called Yamada Nishiki, as well as high quality local sake-rice Gohyakumangoku.
Traditionally, sake brewing is overseen by a chief brewer called toji. The breweries in Kanazawa recruit tojifrom the Noto Peninsula but from all over country as well, so that they can compete and learn from each other. Also, the rich culinary traditions in Kanazawa have long supported the sake brewing industry.
Sake has been considered a sacred drink and was believed to exorcise evil spirits. That’s why you often see big casks of sake dedicated to Shinto shrines.
[Sake breweries in Kanazawa]
・Fukumitsuya http://www.fukumitsuya.co.jp/english/index.html (English)
・Yachiya http://www.yachiya-sake.co.jp (Japanese)
・Nakamuraya Shuzo http://www.nakamura-shuzou.co.jp (Japanese)