In Edo period sake brewers in Itami, Nishinomiya and Nada delivered high quality’s sake in casks to Edo by ships. They had a superior technique, used high quality rice and water, and delivered high quality’s sake called “Kudarizake”. The passionate emotion of sake brewers to innovation in technology produced an enterprising spirit as traditional five regions with natural features of mount Rokko, people have been produced innovative sake for 400 years.
Itami city faces Rokko mountain in west. There is a stone monument saying that Konoike family made fortune by making Japanese sake and it has been lasting for more than 200 years from the year 1600. The first generation is Yukimoto who is said to be a son of Shikanosuke Yamanaka. Konoike family first produced fine sake and delivered them to Edo. “Sumi-sake” or fine sake not being white cloudy sake was produced in Itami. The birth place of sake.
In Edo people liked products send from Kansai or Kyoto calling it “Kudarimono”. Sake was specially welcomed as “Kudari-sake”. Among them one from Itami had become popular calling as “Itami-Morohaku” because it used unsparingly polished rice for both Koji mold and Kakemai.
There is a guidance made in Edo period called “Noted spots in Settsu”. Settsu is an old name of district of Kansai. There are 60 sake breweries in Itami which produce excellent sake of several thousand koku and export them to every country in Japan. One koku means 180 litters.
They made a casked sake with a brand name and carry it to Kanzaki port, then shipped to Kanto area by ships. It made the name Itami which is a local specialty of “Kudari-sake”. There is a scenic spot “Itami Gomachi” or a monument of the birth of Japanese sake.
This is “Nada-Gogo”. The biggest Japanese sake production area spread in 12km from east to west. It includes “Imazu-Go” and “Nishinomiya-Go” at foot of mount Rokko, “Uozaki-Go”, “Mikage-Go” and “Nishi-Go” Its sake is well known by the name “Nada no Kiippon”. It has 25% share of Japanese sake; one of four sake is produced in Nada Gogo.
Sake breweries in Nishinomiya and Nada brought production technique of sake from Itami and blessed with many things from mount Rokko.
“Kyusui” or water flowing underground in Nishinomiya-Go is called sacred water for sake production. It created graceful “Nada no Otoko-Sake”. In October, preparation for sake brewing begins, representatives from each brewery attend the ceremony at the front of stone monument named the birth place of Kyusui. Then they go to Nishinomiya Shrine and pray for success of sake production.
“Yamadanishiki” or best suited rice for sake brewing was born in the agricultural experiment station in Hyogo prefecture in 1936. Today Yamadanishiki is grown with care in the paddy field spread in the north side of mount Rokko. Each sake brewery deepens a friendship with farmers and people who love sake.
“Kurando” or kraftsman of sake brewing are gathered from Tanba districts in the north side of mount Rokko. They are called “Tanba-Toji”.
They established today’s standard of sake production by several techniques such as “Kanzukuri”, “Sandan-Shikomi” etc. Kura consists of “Mae-Kura” and “Oh-Kura”. It provides protection against the open air and gives effective cooling and ventilation.
It was “Taru-Kaisen” or Ships caring casks of sake which delivered “Kudari-Sake” to Edo. In the end of Edo period one million casks of sake were send to Edo which occupies 80% of sakes consumed in Edo.
Taru-kaisen supported development of sake brewing before Meiji period.
“Shinshu-Bansen” was a race of Taru-Kaisen from Nishinomiya to Edo. The fastest record is 57 hours. Sake festival is held in Nishinomiya and a parade imitating “Shinhu-Bansen” is performed. The owner of the first ship with red Happy is reappeared.
Sake brewers lived in this land and hoped the development of this region used their wealth to art, culture, education or architecture. Hakutsuru museum was established by Kano family of Hakutsuru brewery in Mikage-Go. It stores collections old art which include two National Treasure. “Kyu-Yamamura Family House” current Yodoko Guest house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright is another house of Yamamura family of Sakuramasamune. This house standing along the mount Rokko is a typical modern architecture which tells an enterprising spirit of sake brewer who loved this land. Nada Junior High-School, and Nada High-School were established in 1929 by Yamamura family of Sakuramasamune and Kano family of Kikumasamune. They wished to develop human resources.
There are 20 museums in Itami and Nada-Gogo in which people can touch the feeling of development of local culture by sake brewers.
28 sake breweries in Itami and Nada-Gogo handed down the technology of making sake and produced pride of establishing the standard of Japanese sake, and enterprising spirit.
In this region which is rich in natural blessings and people many kinds of Japanese sake are produced which attract people from all over the world.