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Furukawa Sake Brewery

[Visiting a sake brewery in Shiga ③] [Furukawa Sake Brewery] / Kusatsu

Shiga has a plain centered on Lake Biwa, the largest lake in Japan, and the subsoil water from the surrounding mountains still serves as the brewing water for many sake breweries. We will focus on the unique sake breweries and their passion for sake brewing. For the third installment, we visited the Furukawa Sake Brewery in Kusatsu City, which specializes in "rich, mellow, umami" sake that caters to sake lovers.

1.Draws out the flavor of the rice as it is.

Kusatsu was a bustling post town in the Edo period (1603-1867). The Furukawa Sake Brewery is an atmospheric building with white walls and window lattices along the old Tokaido Highway, where traces of the town still remain. Although the date of establishment is unknown, large wooden vats and old pulleys still remain in the brewery, showing the length of the brewery's history.

Furukawa Sake Brewery

There are no records, but I think they have been making sake since the Edo period," says Mutsuo Furukawa, the brewery's president and brewery owner. Hearing this, one can imagine travelers passing by on the highway enjoying an evening in Kusatsu with sake from the Furukawa Sake Brewery and fish from Lake Biwa.
[When talking about the Furukawa Sake Brewery, "rich, mellow, umami" is an indispensable keyword. It has acidity, sweetness, and a slightly high alcohol content. It has a high acidity and sweetness, and the alcohol content is slightly high. It is a rich, mellow umaguchi with a sharpness and sweetness that is typical of Japanese sake. It is not a light, easy-to-drink taste, but rather a taste that is favored by the experts, a taste that Mr. Furukawa has maintained for nearly 50 years. Mr. Furukawa has been preserving this taste, which is not easy to drink for everyone, and which is favored by the tastes of the well-heeled. I make sake by drawing out the power of the rice itself," he says.

Furukawa Sake Brewery

Right: Mutsuo Furukawa studied sake brewing at university and started working at Furukawa Sake Brewery around 1965. He is still working at the brewery at the age of 83 to preserve the "rich umami" flavor he inherited from his father.

In other words, it is a sake that tastes the rice. Naturally, the rice used is very particular. The company uses rice such as Ginbukietsu, produced locally in Kusatsu, and Mizukagami, developed in Shiga Prefecture, as well as rice grown by contract farmers without using pesticides or chemical fertilizers. The water, another main ingredient of the sake, is from underground water flowing from the Konan Alps into Lake Biwa. The taste of Shiga is concentrated to the utmost in Furukawa Sake Brewery's sake.

Furukawa Sake Brewery

2.It is because of the time and effort required for the wooden tank shibori.

Mr. Furukawa used to be the toji (master brewer), but now he has invited a toji from Tajima to work with him. The sake brewery is located at the back of the store on the street side. Once you step out of the store, you are already in the sake brewery. When rice is washed and steamed here, steam rises to the ceiling, filling the air with the aroma of rice. In the building next door, tanks are lined up, and the unrefined sake is quietly fermenting inside. This is the daily life of the Furukawa Sake Brewery. In the sake brewery, where a variety of tools and equipment line the floor, a large rectangular wooden box called a "kifune" (wooden tank) stands out. The traditional "kifune shibori" method using this wooden box is a traditional method that the Furukawa Sake Brewery continues to preserve.

Furukawa Sake Brewery

By stacking up several layers of long, thin bags filled with unrefined sake inside a wooden vat, the weight of the unrefined sake is pressed to squeeze out the sake. Although this method is time-consuming and labor-intensive, Mr. Furukawa says that it is the only way to obtain the desired flavor. By pressing slowly, the flavor of the rice can be brought out without losing any of the umami," he says.

The taste of the Furukawa Brewery has been maintained through the preservation of rice, water, and production methods. We don't want to make a large amount of sake and spread it around. We make a certain amount every year and sell a certain amount. That's all right. His nephew Takeshi Furukawa, who has been involved in sake brewing with him for the past seven years, also commented, "The president is sincere and stubborn when it comes to sake brewing. But because of this taste, we get orders from far away. It has many fans because of its unique taste. I, too, want to cherish the current flavor.

Furukawa Sake Brewery

Takeshi Furukawa, Mutsuo's nephew, has been participating in the Furukawa Sake Brewery for about seven years. He is responsible for the future of Furukawa Brewery. He says, "It's hard work, but I look forward to drinking the sake afterwards."

Mr. Furukawa looks back on his experience in sake brewing: "I have been working diligently with the sole purpose of making delicious sake. There were many changes in the times, but I think I was able to overcome them naturally. Even after retiring from the toji (chief brewer) position, Mr. Furukawa still participates in sake brewing from early in the morning. This sincere attitude is one of the reasons why Furukawa Sake Brewery's sake is so powerful.

3.The Furukawa Sake Brewery's collection of sake that you should try at least once

Furukawa Shuzo's Soka Normal Sake

Souka: 1.8L regular sake, 1,750 yen. The brand name "Souka" has been handed down since the establishment of the company. It is a solid, rich, umami-guchi sake at a reasonable price. (Can be served cold or warmed all year round.)

TEREIKAWA Honjozo Unblended Sake from Furukawa Shuzo

TEREIKAWA Honjozo Genshu 1.8L, 2,530 yen. A bottle with strong sourness and sweetness. A long-selling product of Furukawa Shuzo. (Can be served cold or warmed all year round.)

TEREIKAWA Special Junmai Nama-shu from Furukawa Shuzo

TEREIKAWA Tokubetsu Junmai Nama Nama-junshu 1.8L, 2,580 yen. Sake with a subtle sweetness of rice. It goes well with a variety of dishes. (Can be served cold all year round, or warmed to human body temperature.)

TEREIKAWA Junmai Ginjyo Nama Shuzake by Furukawa Shuzo

TEREIKAWA Junmai Ginjyo Nama-Genshu 1.8L, 2,690 yen. It has a moderate ginjo aroma and the original flavor of rice. The sake rice is Ginbukietsu developed in Shiga. (Can be served cold all year round, or warmed to human body temperature.)

TEREIKAWA Junmai Daiginjyo Nama-no-Genshu by Furukawa Shuzo

Junmai Daiginjyo Nama-no-Genshu 1.8L 3300 yen Made from Yamadanishiki, this sake has an elegant ginjo aroma and a clean, crisp taste. (Can be served cold all year round, or warmed to human body temperature.)

4.[Where to buy sake from the Furukawa Brewery

■ Shiga Prefecture
[Kintetsu Department Store, Kusatsu] 1-1-50 Shibukawa, Kusatsu-shi, Shiga, 077-564-1111
[Heiwado Al Plaza Kusatsu] 1-23-30, Nishi-Shibukawa, Kusatsu-shi, Shiga, Japan, 077-561-6200
(lessening the significance or value of the previous word) the likes of

5.Recommended by President Furukawa! Delicious Ate in the Neighborhood (1) [Uosho Shoten

Honmoroko from Uosho Shoten

Honmoroko is a species endemic to Lake Biwa and is popular for its preciousness and taste. [Enjoy the spicy flavor and soft texture that only UOSHO can offer. Honmoroko stew (100g) 800 yen

Uosho Shoten

  • fish market
  • 3-9-25 Kusatsu, Kusatsu City, Shiga Prefecture
  • 9 minutes drive from JR Kusatsu Station
  • Tel. 077-562-02219

6.[More information about [Furukawa Brewery

Furukawa Sake Brewery

Furukawa Sake Brewery

  • old-style sake brewing
  • 1-33-3 Yagura, Kusatsu City, Shiga Prefecture
  • 15 minutes walk from JR Minami-Kusatsu Station
  • Tel. 077-562-2116
  • 9:00-17:00
  • Closed on Sundays
  • 6 parking lots
  • https://www.furukawashuzo.com/
  • 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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