The Marumoto Brewery was founded in 1867 at the base of the Chikurin-ji Mountains, in Okayama-ken, one of Japan’s most prized agricultural regions. The Brewery was originally called Shimizu-ya, literally meaning “spring water store” because it was built in the site of a great water source.
Now a national cultural landmark, the brewery is managed by the sixth generation son, Niichiro Marumoto. After making the Kamomidori brand for many years, the brewery introduced Chikurin in 1990 as their new, limited release brand. Because of how carefully they make this saké, in Japan, the brewery sells it directly to a small network of qualified retailers they choose themselves.
The Marumoto Brewery is known as nousan sakagura, the “Farmers’ Brewery,” because the people who grow the rice also make the saké. Their passion, care and knowledge go into every step of every bottle. Reflecting the people and place behind this saké, Chikurin also has a distinctive “farm style”—natural, relaxed and fresh.
Large scale breweries buy their rice from large farmers or rice brokers. Small, regional brewers work closely with local farmers, who raise rice for them under contract. But the Marumoto Brewery makes Chikurin from 100% home grown rice, grown on their own land. The rice they grow is 100% yamada nishiki, the most celebrated saké rice. The owner, Marumoto-san, was also the first Japanese brewer/farmer to get USDA Organic certification for the Yamada Nishiki sake rice he grows to produce Chikurin Organic Junmai Ginjo.
In 2001, Marumoto-san wanted to add a new dimension to his sake portfolio. After studying belgion beer and champagne yeasts, he decided to experiement with producing bottle fermented sparkling sake. After trail and experimentation, he developed Hou Hou Shu and Hana Hou Hou Shu sparkling sake (the pink version, infused with rose hips and hibiscus). These were the first bottle fermented sparkling sake in Japan. A new standard for high quality – not surprisingly coming from the Marumoto brewery. Each bottle is hand bottled with utmost care. Today, both Hou Hou Shu products are especially popular among young people in Japan and have found many fond fans across the USA of all generations and palate types.
Situated in the Chugoku Area, which includes Hiroshima to the West and Tottori to the North, Okayama is known as the “Land of Sunshine,” because of it sunny and dry weather. Okayama is a rich agricultural region, yielding Japan’s most famous peaches, and great strawberries and grapes. The Seto Inland Sea, which lies between the coast of Okayama and the island of Shikoku yields wonderful oysters, snapper and water eel. Other kinds of fish that grow in this Sea are small and flavorful. Thus, the cooking style of Okayama is simple, allowing the natural flavors to shine through.