Ichinomiya Sake Brewery Rika Asano part1
In Topics, we will deliver not only the taste of sake but also the story and thoughts behind it through interviews with the sake producers handled by the sake select shop Mirai Nihonshuten .
This time, we would like to talk to Ms. Rika Asano, the next brewer of Ichinomiya Sake Brewery, who brews "Iwami Ginzan" in Ota City, Shimane Prefecture, and is working on new sake brewing as a female brewer.
In this first installment, Mr. Asano will ask about how he started sake brewing and what he is particular about.
The path to succession without hesitation
-First of all, why did Mr. Asano decide to make sake?
My family has been the president of Ichinomiya Sake Brewery for generations, but since I had three sisters and no brothers, I thought someone would take over. I was the second of three sisters, but my older sister and younger sister were walking different paths from alcohol. In the midst of all this, I didn't feel at all uncomfortable with taking over the brewery, so I went on to Tokyo University of Agriculture to take over the brewery.
-While you are making sake, do you have any rivals, or rather, "I'm making sake so as not to lose to this person"?
At the moment, rather than the taste of sake, I am still vague about what kind of sake I want to make, so I would like to study that and make a decision.
Nowadays, there are many breweries of the same generation who are doing their best, including juniors at the University of Agriculture, and they are using social media to communicate various things. It's very attractive, and I'm not good at transmitting myself, but I think it's that kind of era now, so there's a lot of things that I have to do so as not to lose to the same generation.
All the young breweries in their 20s are able to do that, so it's rude to call them rivals, but I think I have to do my best too.
-thank you. Next, I would like to ask about your father. Did you ever make sake as a toji?
I don't think so. He said that he entered the brewery, but it seems that he felt that he needed to understand sake brewing not only to make sake, but also to run a business. My father is already running the business alone, so I have to play a central role in manufacturing.
-Earlier I asked you about your goals in terms of production, but now, including management, do you have any future themes that you would like to do in your generation?
I think my brewery is very small now, but I'm not thinking of making it many times bigger. There are a lot of people who want to support us because we are small, and in the current ticking situation, I think it will be busy, but I want to be able to do my best. It's very rough, but I think so.
Connection with "local" is a big help
-What is the state of community in Shimane? I think it can be divided into areas that focus on regional ties and areas where each individual brews sake independently with their own philosophy.
I don't think Shimane is without regional unity. There are people in their 30s and 40s who are just changing generations. Like the next president. I think that those who are deeply connected are exchanging brewing methods in such a situation. I thought that in such a world, we wouldn't be able to teach our technology to other companies, but that's not the case at all, and they are very kind and teach us a lot.
thank you. I would like to ask you about the particularity of the rice, such as whether you are particular about using locally grown rice, or whether you want to try all genres of rice, such as "this type of rice is good" even if it is the same local rice variety that is suitable for sake brewing. do you have?
The rice I mainly use now is a rice called improved Hattanryu. This rice was originally grown in Shimane Prefecture, but it is no longer produced because it is difficult to cultivate. The rice was revived in 1996 with local farmers.
Now, we mainly use this rice for special name sake, and you can really feel the taste of rice. I really like that rice, so I have it grown locally, and I want to use it as a main dish.
But not only that, but I've never made sake because I've been drinking it all the time, but I've had a few times when I've been drinking and thinking "it's delicious" with this kind of rice. , Actually, I want to stick to Okinawan rice, but there are times when I want to make it with rice that I think is good.
-Right now, rather than narrowing it down, you want to expand it.
I think it would be nice if I could make this one every year using rice and yeast that I would like to use.
-Are you procuring sake rice from a contract farmer like Ichinomiya Sake Brewery?
Kaizen Hattan-ryu itself is made by a local farmer, who is a contract farmer.
-thank you. Let's get back to the topic a bit, but when it comes to making sake, there are things you learned at the university and the style of the toji. Is it basically based on the policy of Mr. Toji, or is it centered on the cutting edge that you learned at agricultural university?
Of course, at Agricultural University, there are things like ideal recipes in textbooks. In fact, we prepare in the laboratory, but there is a refrigerator that can control the temperature properly, and the temperature change was relatively ideal.
However, when I actually returned to the brewery, it was difficult just to cool the tank, and the temperature control itself was difficult. I felt that it was completely different from actually preparing it. In reality, I feel that there are a lot of barriers, so instead of just following the toji's method, when I say to a sake brewery in Shimane, "I like this kind of sake," they say, "Why don't you try using this kind of yeast?" He gives me advice, so I'd like to incorporate that part into my work.
In the next installment, we will focus on what Ms. Asano is aiming for as a female brewer.