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Kita Brewery Staff

I visited Kita Sake Brewery near Eigenji Temple in Higashiomi City / Visiting Sake Breweries in Lake Biwa, Shiga

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 sake breweries with rich individuality and their passion for sake brewing. For the 14th issue, we visited Kita Sake Brewery in Higashiomi City, where the ninth generation of the brewery has passed on to future generations the gentle sake brewed in this rich region and the passion for sake brewing that has continued for 200 years.

1.As if it were a Shinto ritual, I just kept on going that way.

The company was founded in 1820. For almost 200 years, Kita Shuzo has been brewing sake in this area, which is rich in mellow underground water. The name of this mild-flavored sake is "Kirakucho. The name of this mild-flavored sake is "Kiraku-cho," which symbolizes joy, fun, and long life. The brewer of this sake, which symbolizes happiness, is the ninth generation, Mayuko Kita, who was born and raised here.

Mr. Kita, the toji of Kita Sake Brewery

The middle of three siblings, he decided to take over the brewery when he was in junior high school. When he entered the brewery, his face would change and he would face the sake. It was like a solemn ritual. I wanted to preserve this environment, and I felt that I had to leave it behind. He studied economics at university and gained experience in brewing and sake wholesale companies. All of this was done to preserve the Kita Brewery for future generations as a brewery owner.

Kita Brewery's Shinto altar

I joined the family business in 2015. At the time, the toji was still coming in and the brewers would stay overnight for six months to make sake. I also worked as a kurabito, making sake in the winter and doing sales in the summer. I studied sake brewing before becoming a brewer, but sake brewing became a bigger and bigger part of my job, and four years ago I started working as a toji as well.

2.Bringing to the forefront not femininity, but your own personality, your original individuality.

At the time, there were only two female toji in Shiga Prefecture, so I received comments like, 'Make sake that is feminine,' or 'Make sake that caters to young women. I was very grateful for that, but at the same time, I wondered what "feminine" meant. There were times when I was torn between everyone's expectations and the sake I wanted to make," she recalls.

Kita Brewery Staff

In inheriting the Kirakucho sake, he struggled with what should be preserved and what new elements should be added, and realized that the answer was in the Kirakucho itself.
I call it "gracefulness," and it is based on the theme of the soft taste of "Kirakucho. Some people may perceive this as "femininity," but it is not a trait that suddenly appeared when I entered the brewery. However, this is not a characteristic that suddenly appeared when I joined the brewery. Nothing has changed. I just started to express that," he says.
The taste of "Kirakucho" is unique to Mayuko, and is created by accumulating experience year by year. In the same way, her eight predecessors must have continued their search here. Mayuko is an extension of that 200-year history.

3.First and second are both still "Kirakucho".

The label with an illustration of a woman in silver with pink lines is eye-catching. It is a sake called "Kirakucho first" planned by Mayuko. The theme is "your first encounter with sake. The taste is light, like cotton candy," she said. The design of the label also expresses this atmosphere.

Kita Shuzo's Kirakucho first Junmai Ginjo

Kirakucho first Junmai Ginjo 720ml / 1650 yen

This year, they also brewed "Kirakucho second. [This sake was brewed with two new challenges: white malted rice, which Kita Shuzo had never used before, and Shiga Prefecture's original yeast. Kirakucho's sake may be a little too authentic and difficult to approach for first-timers," he said. That's why we made the first sake easy for newcomers to drink, and made it so that they can taste the goodness of Kirakucho. If you enjoy the taste of first and second sake, I hope you will try the other Kiraku-cho sake as well.

4.Accepting the inconvenience, we continue to build here.

It is a sake for people who drink Kirakucho for the first time" and "a sake that incorporates two new things. Mayuko felt more empowered if there were some restrictions. As she had done in the past, she could have chosen to have a toji (master brewer) come in and manage the Kita family as the brewery's head brewer.

Kita Brewery Staff

However, Mayuko insisted on preserving "Kirakucho" herself while preserving the traditional way of doing things in this land where her ancestors have lived for a long time, and in a warehouse that has been used for a long time. I think it is meaningful to allow inconvenience. Of course, there are things that can be changed.

Kita Brewery Staff

The old way of brewing sake, where people stayed overnight for six months, does not fit the modern age. It is not a bad idea to stop using this old, spacious warehouse and build a compact warehouse to brew sake for all four seasons. But that is not the Kita Brewery I wanted to take over. There must be a meaning for me in brewing "Kirakucho" in this place where holiness dwells," he says. Anyway, I will continue here. His strong determination is unwavering because the sight of the sacred sake brewing process that he saw as a child is still burned into his eyes.

[Mayuko Kita, Executive Director of Kita Sake Brewery, was born in 1989 and decided to take over the business when she was a junior high school student. She joined the family business eight years ago and has been working as a toji (master brewer) for the past four years. As the head brewer, her current task is to create an environment in which young brewers can work comfortably.

5.Kita Sake Brewery's collection of sake that you should try at least once

Kita Shuzo's Kirakucho Junmai Daiginjo Aishitsu

Kirakucho Junmai Daiginjo Aishitsu 720ml / 4,180 yen has a deep umami and acidity that would go well with a slightly sweet bowl. You can feel the depth of flavor on your tongue. Recommended served cold.

Kirakucho Daiginjo Respected by Kita Shuzo

Kirakucho Daiginjo Keishi 720ml / 4,070 yen has a moist and gorgeous ginjo aroma that spreads even more on the palate. The elegant sweet type should be served cold.

Kirakucho Dry Junmai Ginjo

Kirakucho Dry Junmai Ginjo 720ml/1705 yen is a signature product that has been around for over 30 years. Its sweetness is kept to a minimum, allowing you to enjoy the natural flavor of koji. Can be served cold or warmed.

Kita Shuzo's Kirakucho Junmai Ginjo

Kirakucho Junmai Ginjo 720ml / 1,485 yen is a bottle with soft umami and good acidity in perfect harmony. Serve cold or lukewarm. The mild ginjo aroma makes it ideal as a food sake.

Kita Shuzo's Kirakucho first Junmai Ginjo

Kirakucho first Junmai Ginjo 720ml / 1650 yen has a clear aroma and light flavor that is perfect for a first bottle, while maintaining the delicacy of sake. Serve cold.

6.[Where to buy sake from the Kita Brewery

■ Shiga Prefecture
[Koizumi [0748-23-2666] 228-5 Aobacho, Higashiomi-shi, Shiga
[Shigakuma Shoten] 0748-23-3028/5-7, Fudanotsuji 1-chome, Higashiomi-shi, Shiga Prefecture
[Omasuya] 0748-27-0014 / 447 Yamagamicho, Higashiomi City, Shiga Prefecture

■ Kyoto Prefecture
[Takama Sake Shop] 075-721-7210/2 Kamigamo Kurokatsu-cho, Kita-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
[Meishukan Takimoto] 075-341-9111 / Rokujo-dori, Takakura-higashiiru, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
[Nishimura Sake Shop] 075-781-3049/3 Kubota-cho, Kitashirakawa, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto

7.Recommended by the brewery! Delicious Ate in the Neighborhood (1) [Seasonal Cuisine Hinoya

Seasonal Cuisine Hinoya's Eel Jyu Top Double

Eel with a thick sauce is also served between rice. Eel Jyu-jyu (double-over-top): 4,070 yen (with liver soup), 3,996 yen for take-out

Seasonal Cuisine Hinoya

  • seasonal dish Hinoya
  • 1266 Yamagami-cho, Higashiomi-shi, Shiga
  • 12 minutes drive from Meishin "Yohkaichi IC".
  • Tel. 0748-27-0052

8.Recommended by the brewery! Delicious Ate in the Neighborhood (2) [Ikeda Ranch

Gelato from Ikeda Farm

About 20 varieties are always available, including milk made with plenty of freshly squeezed milk and matcha made with the finest Asamiya tea. Gelato mini cup 375 yen each

Ikeda Farm

  • Ikebana ranch
  • 1572-2, Wanan-cho, Higashiomi-shi, Shiga
  • 15 minutes drive from Meishin "Yokaichi IC".
  • Tel. 0748-27-1600 (direct line to the farm)

9.[Kita Sake Brewery

Exterior view of Kita Brewery

Kita Brewery

  • figurehead (on a ship)
  • 1129 Ikeda-cho, Higashiomi-shi, Shiga
  • 7 minutes drive from Meishin "Yokaichi IC
  • Tel.0748-22-2505
  • 9:00-16:00
  • Closed on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays
  • 3 parking spaces
  • https://kirakucho.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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