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Hirai store

[Visiting a sake brewery in Shiga ①] [Hirai Shoten] / Otsu

Shiga is a plain area centered around Lake Biwa, the largest lake in Japan, and underground water from the surrounding mountains is still used as the water for many sake breweries. We will focus on the unique sake breweries and their passion for sake brewing. The first article is Hirai Shoten, a long-established storehouse in the shopping district, located in Otsu City. I visited the sake brewery where the couple brews sake.

1.A long-established storehouse in a shopping district that exudes the kindness of a couple [Hirai Shoten]

Otsu flourished as a port town for water transportation on Lake Biwa, a post town on the Tokaido, and a temple town for Mii-dera Temple. Part of that bustling area, once known as ``Otsu Hyakumachi'', is now a shopping street with bright sunlight shining through the arcades. There, there was a store with barrels of sake piled up under the eaves of a tiled roof with the word ``Asajio'' written in bold letters.

Hirai store

Hirai Shoten is a long-established sake brewery that was founded in 1658 in the early Edo period. ``Asakyo'' is a representative brand named after a waka poem given to him by Emperor Gomizunoo's son, Prince Shogoin Miyamichihiro, in 1677. ``This is the room where koji is made, and in the past, the chief brewer and craftsmen lived in this room during the winter,'' said Hiroko Hirai, the chief brewer. It seems that it has been expanded over the years, and the wooden buildings continue into the back.

Hirai store

In a dimly lit space with long, thick beams, large tanks for making sake are lined up quietly, and although they are no longer in use, the large tanks made of cherry wood and the huge pots buried in the ground are still intact. There is. As the faint aroma of sake tickles your nose, you will feel the weight of Hirai Shoten's history, which has been around for over 360 years, filling the air.

Hirai store

However, for Hiroko, who laughs and says, ``It must be like a maze,'' this is also the place where she was born and raised. The sake brewery where I work today is a nostalgic place where I played hide and seek when I was a child. Hiroko, who had no intention of taking over the family business and was studying architecture at university, entered the world of sake brewing after the sudden death of her grandfather, the 16th head of the family.

2.``Sake was preserved by my grandfather.I wanted to inherit that feeling,'' says Hiroko.

After graduating from university, he entered the family business and learned sake brewing from his father, the 17th head of the family. ``Once I started doing it, I started to enjoy it more and more.Actually, I'm not a big drinker myself, so I want to make easy-to-drink alcohol that even beginners can enjoy.'' Supporting Hiroko is her husband, Shotaro. Seven years ago, she met and married Shotaro, who was working in Fushimi and was a true sake lover and wanted to get involved in sake brewing. Nowadays, my husband and I spend our days exploring alcohol. Shotaro says, ``It's hard work, but it's very fulfilling to be able to do everything ourselves. I work with the awareness that I'm in a place where I can serve alcohol.'' His eyes sparkle. The passion is only growing.

Hirai store

On the day I visited for this interview, they were brewing ``Fouche'', which was invented about 20 years ago so that you could drink delicious Japanese sake even in the summer. Hiroko pours the mash into long, narrow cloth sake bags, and Shotaro breaks off the openings of the bags and stacks them in the tank. After a while, sake started flowing out little by little from the spout in the tank.

3.``It is said that if you squeeze it slowly, the flavor will be milder,'' says Shotaro.

It is a time-consuming process, but if it makes the sake delicious, it becomes a precious time.

Hirai store

Although the number has increased in recent years, the number of female chief brewers is still in the minority. He may feel nervous about inheriting 360 years of history, but he says he only looks at the present, not the past.
``I haven't been asked to inherit it either, and I try not to think too much about whether or not I want my children to inherit it.However, if I want to pass it on next time, I want to be able to pass it on.'' Work. I want to do what I can right now for that purpose." Currently, Mr. and Mrs. Hirai are thinking about trying out different kinds of rice. ``We want to value local flavors, so we mainly use rice produced in Shiga Prefecture.In addition, we also use rice from other regions, and we hope to increase the variety of flavors we're looking for.'' There is also.”

Left/Hiroko Hirai. Born in Otsu City. He studied architecture at university in hopes of finding a job, but upon his grandfather's sudden death, he entered the family business. As a chief brewer, he inherited his father's teachings. Right: Shotaro Hirai. Born in Toyonaka City. He loves Japanese sake and wanted to get involved in sake brewing, so he met and married Hiroko while working in Fushimi. The two of us work together to make sake.

Hiroko says that sake making is influenced by various conditions such as rice, temperature, and water, ``I make sake as if I were devoted to my boyfriend, and when it becomes a product, I feel like I would marry my child.'' "It will be."
[Hirai Shoten]'s sake is brewed slowly with your loved ones, as if you were interacting with someone special. The reason for its gentle taste is the love that the couple poured into it.

4.Hirai Shoten's liquor collection that you'll want to try at least once

Hirai Shoten's Asakayusei Junmai Sake Brewing: 330 years

Asakio Junmai Sake Brewing 330 Years 1210 yen. Junmai sake was first made at Hirai Shoten.

“Asakio Junmai Sake Brewing 330 Years” 1,210 yen. Junmai sake was first made at Hirai Shoten.

Hirai Shoten's Asakayusei Junmai Activated Nigori Sake Lake Snow

Asako pure rice active nigori sake Kousetsu 1210 yen. A refreshing taste designed to be enjoyed even in summer.

Hirai Shoten's Asakayousei Junmai Ginjo Unfiltered Nama Sake Kumakawake

``Asago Junmai Ginjo Unfiltered Raw Unprocessed Sake Kumaana ni Komoru'' (Kumana ni Komoru), made with Shiga Prefecture's Mizukagami rice, costs 1,485 yen.

Hirai Shoten's Asakayusei Ginbuki Special Junmai Unfiltered Nama Sake

Asako Ginbubuki Special Junmai Unfiltered Raw Sake 1,570 yen has a strong flavor. Goes well with strong-flavored dishes.

5.Where you can buy alcohol from [Hirai Shoten]

■ Shiga Prefecture
[Ogawa Liquor Store] 077-524-2203 / 2-1-31 Hamaotsu, Otsu City, Shiga Prefecture
[Kato Liquor Store] 077-522-4546 / 13-1 Kinoshita-cho, Otsu City, Shiga Prefecture
[Juyondai Sake Kanazawa] 077-562-0038/8-16-14 Oiwake, Kusatsu City, Shiga Prefecture
[Tokiwaya Liquor Store] 077-572-8358 / 2-12 Akanecho, Otsu City, Shiga Prefecture
[Sake Store Maetani] 0749-22-0575/5-10 Funamachi, Hikone City, Shiga Prefecture
[Omasuya] 0748-27-0014 / 447 Yamagamicho, Higashiomi City, Shiga Prefecture
[Shuchuya Takimoto] 077-581-0322 / 2-11-18 Imajuku, Moriyama City, Shiga Prefecture

■ Kyoto Prefecture
[Nishimoto Sake Store] 075-221-0452 / 480 Aneyakoji-dori Nishinotoin Nishiimiyakicho, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto Prefecture

■Osaka Prefecture
[Hata Liquor Store] 072-632-4170 / 1-18-9 Sawarayoshi Nishi, Ibaraki City, Osaka Prefecture
[Inagoya Liquor Store] 06-6872-2612 / 3-3-120-108 Shinsenri Higashimachi, Toyonaka City, Osaka Prefecture
[Inakiku Liquor Store] 06-6852-4453 / 2-27-8 Nakasakurazuka, Toyonaka City, Osaka Prefecture Sakurazuka Shopping Center 1F
[Orikuchi Liquor Store] 06-6641-1131 / 2-10-14 Ebisu Higashi, Naniwa-ku, Osaka-shi, Osaka Prefecture

6.[Hirai Shoten] Shops where you can drink alcohol

*Currently, the government has declared a state of emergency in some prefectures, and each prefectural office has requested that priority measures be taken to prevent the spread of the disease, and that business hours and alcohol service hours be shortened. As a result, some stores may be closed or open with reduced hours.
Please be sure to contact each store before going out.

■ Shiga Prefecture
[Chicken, Fish and Sake Direct] 077-572-9711 / 3-1 Suehirocho, Otsu City, Shiga Prefecture
[Station Square Bar Mikura] 050-5485-3988 / 2-1-26 Hamaotsu, Otsu City, Shiga Prefecture
[Alcohol and love dish Nomibyotan] 077-525-0608 / 3-7 Tatsugaoka, Otsu City, Shiga Prefecture
[Sake BAR Juhachiban] 050-5596-6346/2-62 Awazu-cho, Otsu City, Shiga Prefecture J-COURT
[Standing Drinker Nanai Chiichi] 077-533-1035 / 5-11 Awazu-cho, Otsu City, Shiga Prefecture
[Drunk In] 077-533-5590/1-8-3 Seiran, Otsu City, Shiga Prefecture
[Shunyu Ayura] 077-522-3601/2-6-39 Chuo, Otsu City, Shiga Prefecture
[Shimodaya] 077-523-1029/2-9 Suehirocho, Otsu City, Shiga Prefecture

■ Kyoto Prefecture
[Izakaya Kamukyo] 075-211-6122 / Royal Plaza Building 2F, Higashinotoin Higashiiri, Rokkaku-dori, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto Prefecture
[Umaimonya Issho] 075-231-1711 / 427 Yamamotocho, Miyukicho Nijo Shimoru, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture
[Shokudo Homoge] 075-748-1539 / 273-1 Izumi-cho, Kawaramachi-dori Marutamachi, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto Prefecture
[Rokukan] 075-276-7753 / 35 Murakino Nishi Goshoda-cho, Kita-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto Prefecture
[Food and Alcohol Fukura] 075-252-0505 / 220-1 Kamizucho, Kawaramachi Kojinkuchishitaru, Kamigyo Ward, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture

■Osaka Prefecture
[Creative Japanese Cuisine Toyokichi] 06-7651-3072 / El Patio Koide 2F, 1-8-17 Ueno Nishi, Toyonaka City, Osaka Prefecture
[Fish and Local Sake Rintaro] 072-658-6415 / 1F, 12-16 Kitazonocho, Takatsuki City, Osaka Prefecture
[Tojiya] 06-6371-0979/7-13 Kurosaki-cho, Kita-ku, Osaka-shi, Osaka Prefecture
■Hyogo Prefecture
[Vegetable Izakaya Itagiya] 078-333-9216 / Nakayamate Suzuki Building 1F, 1-14-7 Nakayamate-dori, Chuo-ku, Kobe City, Hyogo Prefecture

7.Recommended by Mr. and Mrs. Hirai! Delicious ate from the neighborhood ① [Yaoyao]

The moderately bitter fukinoto miso (85g), 220 yen, is a masterpiece from Yaoyao, a pickle shop founded in 1850 at the end of the Edo period.

Eight hundred yards

  • Yaoyo
  • 2-9-4 Mayor Otsu, Shiga Prefecture
  • 7 minutes walk from Keihan “Biwako-Hamaotsu” station
  • Tel.077-522-4021

8.Recommended by Mr. and Mrs. Hirai! Delicious eats in the neighborhood ② [Sakamotoya]

Sakamoto-ya no Hateboshi

Tateboshi (540 yen) from [Sakamotoya], which was established in 1869 as a specialty store for carp sushi.


  • Sakamotoya
  • 1-5-21 Otsu Mayor, Shiga Prefecture
  • 8 minutes walk from Keihan "Biwako-Hamaotsu" station
  • Tel.077ー524ー2406

9.[Hirai Shoten] store information

Hirai store

  • Hiraishoten
  • 1-2-33 Chuo, Otsu City, Shiga Prefecture
  • 5 minutes walk from Keihan "Biwako-Hamaotsu" station
  • Tel.077ー522ー1277
  • 10:00-18:30
  • Irregular holidays
  • No parking
  • PHOTO/Takahiro Takami, TEXT/Tomomi Uryu
*Please note that the information contained herein is subject to change without notice.
*Since this site uses automatic translation, the translation may differ from the original Japanese content.


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