Father's Day is June 16

Kawatsuru BreweryYuichiro Kawahito, president of Kawatsuru Brewery in Kagawa, is the epitome of the word genki – he is full of energy and life. He took on the brewery in 2004 after his father, making him the 6th generation owner. I visited Kawatsuru Brewery on a sunny day in January this year. Founded in 1891, this sake brewery has adapted to the times and he's very aware that he must also change it, for the sake of his daughters.

"The brewery is physically too big right now. In my dad's time the brewery was making 10,000 koku (180 liters) of futsushu (non-premium grade sake). Today, we make only 1,000 koku, but it's higher quality with deeper flavors. For example, we are making more kimoto," said Kawahito. He expressed his concern over downsizing the brewery, so it is not such a burden if his daughters decide to take it over.

Kawatsuru BreweryLarge apparatuses that Kawahito-san's father used for futsushu production that Kawahito-san wants to get rid of

In the spirit of trying new things, he brought on Kaoru Hazu as the new toji four years ago, who is excited about brewing with the wild yeasts that are living in the brewery.

Kawatsuru BreweryHazu let me peek into his tiny experimental brew of kimoto. 

Kawatsuru BreweryKoji beds

Kawatsuru BreweryExperimental kimoto batch

I got to try their two types of NORA (Natural Original Refine Aeonian), a line of natural sakes that is not available in the U.S. due to limited production. I loved the acidic and savory flavors of NORA Heart + Soul, which is an nama genshu (unpasteurized, undiluted sake) using wild yeast.

Kawatsuru Brewery

A buzzword I kept hearing over and over in Japan was SDG (Sustainable Development Goals), and Kawahito-san mentioned that Heart + Soul is a SDG sake because it has a very low polishing rate at 90%, meaning there's very little waste when milling.

Kawatsuru Brewery

I made it known to Kawahito-san and his wife that we'd LOVE Nora to come to the U.S.

But for now, we are lucky to have Kawatsuru's Olive Junmai Ginjo stateside.

Kawatsuru BreweryA tank of Olive Junmai Ginjo slated for the U.S.

I asked Kawahito-san about this sake made with olive yeast. "Olives came to Japan 150 years ago from Spain. Kagawa was the only one who succeeded in raising them," says Kawahito. Indeed, Kagawa is olive-crazy. At the hotel I stayed at they were serving olive-fed beef, pork, and hamachi. "Olive yeast behaves differently from kyokai (sake association) yeast," Kawahito explains, "We have to start the fermentation at a high temperature of 13°C to kickstart the shubo (starter mash)."

Kawatsuru BreweryThe well is located in that concrete shed.

Kawahito-san also showed me the basement where a sign is still posted from the World War II era that says Chika Tank (Basement Tanks).

Kawatsuru BreweryKawatsuru BreweryDuring the war, sake was very valuable (i.e. taxable), so the government required breweries to store their sake in basements in case they were bombed.

Kawatsuru BreweryThese days, Kawahito-san ages his sake in this basement.

Another thing Kagawa is known for is Sanuki udon. I will forever remember the delicious lunch I had with the Kawahitos at Udonzuki.


The firm udon was served both ways (warm as kame-udon, and cold). A side of fried chikuwa completes the set.


The Kawahitos

Genki Yuichiro Kawahito-san will be joining us May 9 for a Meet the Brewers event here at Umami Mart. We are very excited! We'll be pouring his Olive Junmai Ginjo and the classic Kawatsuru Junmai. Read more about the event here.

Thank you to the Kawahitos for inviting me to their brewery!

Kawatsuru Brewery