The Izumo Taisha is one of Japan’s most cherished shinto shrines, and the centerpiece of this small town. Mount Fuji is Japan’s national symbol. The brewery named their sake “Izumo Fuji” to celebrate both symbols, local and national.
In Japan, shrines have specific powers for which visitors pray. Izumo Taisha’s power is “en musubi,” “the tying of bonds.” Visiting the Izumo Taisha can bring you positive relationships in romance and in business. Locals joke that so many singles come to pray that they might not leave alone!
Toshi Imaoka, the brewmaster and director of the brewery, makes his sake in the spirit of Izumo Taisha. He hopes his sake will bring people together to form long bonds, with his sake, too!
Unlike most craft breweries whose ownership can be traced back several generations over centuries, the Fuji Sake Brewery has a shorter but no less compelling history. The current president and brewmaster Toshiaki’s grandfather was working as a brewer for the previous family when its business began to fail. There were no other family members to step in so Imaoka-san’s grandfather stayed and turned the business around. He brokered a deal with the previous owners and made it his own.
Today, the Fuji Brewery is a strong and friendly family business. The brewery is bursting with energy, talent, success, and respect. In the summer of 2022, Imaoka-san will oversee a major renovation to expand capacity and upgrade equipment. Imaoka-san works as the toji with his tight and nimble team. In addition to Izumo Fuji, they make Joto Yuzu and Umeshu.
Shimane is in the southwest of Japan on the Japan sea side. It is known for excellent sashimi, from the fresh, local fish of the Japan Sea. Seasonal crab is another local and seasonal delicacy. So is wagyu. Soba from Shimane, specifically Izumo, is also famous for being served in stacked dishes.
The Izumo Taisha is one of the great shrines of Japan, along with Ise Jingu, Meiji Jingu, and Heian Jingu. It is considered to be older than Ise Jingu, but the date of its construction is not known because it is renovated every 60 to 70 years to maintain the power of the gods.
Although the growth of the brewery has brought technological advances, the brewery still uses many traditional methods—steaming using a wagama to power their koshiki, transporting koji by hand, spreading out and cooling by hand, and pressing mostly by funashibori.
The brewery mostly uses rice locally grown in Shimane. The main variety is called Sakanishiki, which is cultivated by local farmers specifically for Fuji Brewery. They cultivate this rice using sustainable methods, which is crucial for quality, but takes enormous effort and dedication. The water of the area is very soft, which is perfect for sake brewing.
The style of Izumo Fuji sake is loose, relaxed, and expansive. Refined and sophisticated, yet unpretentious, this sake will please a range of consumers and pair with many foods.
This brewery created their brand, Izumo Fuji, to celebrate two Japanese symbols, one local, the other national—the Izumo Taisha, one of Japan’s oldest Shinto shrines, and Mount Fuji. This junmai ginjo is made from Yamada Nishiki rice, the famous sake rice varietal which is associated with Hyogo prefecture. Izumo Fuji, however, used Yamada Nishiki grown in their prefecture, Shimane.