A Sake Brewery in Araishuku

 Kiminoi Shuzou is located along the road formerly known as Hokkoku-Kaido Araishuku.
Hokkoku-Kaido was a passage for Alternating Edo Residence of the Japanese feudal lords of the Hokuriku area. In addition, it was an important transportation passage for transporting large amount of gold produced in Sado to Edo, rice from the granary, salt and seafood from Imamachi Port (Joetsu City), and other supplies.
Arai is renowned for its heavy snowfall reaching more than 10 meters, so life old Arai's during winters appears to have been tough.
However, thanks to the "land of heavy snowfall," Arai area becomes a natural refrigerator in winter, and is blessed with abundant groundwater, such as river-bed water from the Yashiro River from Mt. Myoko. These condition makes Arai an ideal environment for sake brewing.
Kiminoi Shuzou has been growing with the blessing of the snow.


The founding year of our brewery is set at 1842. This is based on the oldest record remaining in our company that is the license of sake brewing 128 Koku (about 23,000L) by the feudal lord Sakakibara of the Takada clan. Arai area was prone to fires since olden days, and due to major fires, particularly upon entering the Meiji era, the town was burned down into ashes leading to loss of all the past records.
There is no clear record of the origin of our name "Kiminoi" either. However, at the beginning of the Meiji era, there was an event that could be inferred about its origin.
Around 1842 somewhere at the end of the Edo period, upon entering the Meiji era, there is a record that the Emperor Meiji visited "Higashi Honganji Temple" which is in the vicinity of Kiminoi Shuzou. At that time, Kiminoi offered sake to the emperor. For this reason, the character "Kimi" representing the emperor was used as "liquor dedicated to the emperor.” Kiminoi's letter "i" comes from "wells with good quality water," as there are many brands "×××i" in the whole country.
At that time, for classification, sake was sold under the naming of “Kiminoi”, “Sakurahomare ” and “Kinkazan” in order of ranking, and also produced and sold shochu and sweet cooking rice wine.

History of brewing

※1 The 16th National Sake Fair Honorary Award (left)
  The 71st Kanto-shinetsu Sake Awards the Grand Prize (right)

Our company operated as "Tanaka liquor shop" until the name was changed to "Kiminoi Shuzou Co., Ltd." in 1951. The trade name of the shop was "Tanakaya" or "Sake Tanaka", and the owner succeeded to the name of "Daigoro" from generation to generation.
The second generation "Tanakaya Daigoro" in the early Showa era took a foresight and positive action. In 1928, he introduced an enamel tank, and based on his idea that "higher quality rice must be first used to improve quality", he purchased a new vertical rice mill and realized high rice polishing. Until then, horizontal rice milling machines had a performance of only 75% for milled rice and only about 65 to 60% even when using powder (limestone powder).
Furthermore, in 1929, he built a reinforced concrete sake brewery, which was rare at that time, with the aim of improving the quality of sake. As a result, we achieved numerous awards at the fairs. In addition, at the national sake fair held by the Japan Brewery Association in 1938, we were awarded the "Honorary Award" ※1because we have won consecutive prizes not only this time but also at past fairs.
Our current brewery was designed by Mr. Jiro Shinoda, constructed in 1967 and equipped with the latest equipment at the time, such as safety, work efficiency, rationality of air conditioning, and quality control. In 1992, the rice mill was completely computer controlled. In recent years, the bottling factory was rebuilt and fillers, bottle coolers, and palletizers were introduced. Furthermore, the latest bottle washer was introduced and the new boiler was replaced. In this way, we have inherited the aspirations of our forerunner who took a foresight and positive action. Under the motto of "Spare No Efforts for Sake Brewing," we are particularly focused on "Yamahai-Tsukuri" and continue our tireless efforts to improve quality.

Daigoro Tanaka

Daigoro Tanaka was born in 1896 as the second son of Kiminoi Shuzou's third generation, Isaharu Tanaka. He was born near the 54th anniversary of the founding of Tanaka liquor shop (now Kiminoi Shuzou). Kiminoi Shuzou was founded in 1842, and the quantity of rice for sake making at that time was 128 Koku (about 19,2t).
In 1927, the following people introduced "enamel tanks" for quality improvement. Representative of Niigata Sake, Junjiro Hirasawa (Asahi Shuzo), Yujiro Yoshizawa (Niigata Meijou), Sadaharu Watanabe (Watanabe Shoten), and Daigoro Tanaka of our brewery. The introduction of an enamel tank was unusual for that time, and it was first introduced to sake brewing ahead of the whole country. For this purpose, they established Nada Enamel Tank Co., Ltd.
The introduction was triggered by the nationwide "spoilage of fermentation mash case" that occurred about two years before its introduction. Daigoro Tanaka of Kiminoi Shuzou thought that there was nothing but the introduction of the tank, especially for the sake brewing industry, because of the sense of mission that quality, safety and stable improvement of sake quality should be aimed at. At that time, some seemed to have raise an objection, but it is a well-known fact that it pioneered modern sake brewing.
As if to respond to this, ”Niigata Prefectural Brewery Testing Laboratory” was established in 1930 as the only prefecture-owned brewing test site in Japan, and this brewing method became the starting point for widespread nationwide use. As early as then, the results began to come out. In 1932 and 1934, we won the nation's top honors at the 13th and 14th National Liquor Fairs. The improvement of the liquor quality level by the activated carbon used ahead at Kiminoi shuzou from 1930 also worked. Kiminoi Shuzou won the honor prize consecutively from the 13th fair and achieved the honorary prize at the 16th.
As a side note, Kiminoi Shuzou came to be called a great merit person who raised the level of Niigata's sake quality, because many Niigata's sake won the prize at the 13th National Liquor Fairs.

Tetsuro Tanaka

Tetsuro Tanaka is called the father of Niigata's finest sake, who is indispensable when speaking of Ginjo-shu. He set up and lead "Kenjokai" (the study group of sake brewing) in 1953, where 16 Niigata famous breweries such as Kiminoi Shuzou , Ishimoto Shuzo, Asahi Shuzou, Aoki Shuzo and Hakkai Jozo gathered. He was dedicated to improving the quality of Niigata's sake and is everyone in the brewing industry knows him.
After graduating from technical college, Tetsuro Tanaka studied sake brewing thoroughly at Kiminoi Shuzou. During his training at the brewery, he was taught by Daigoro Tanaka about the revolution in modern sake technology: "How to prepare with an enamel tank" and "How to use a vertical rice mill". This had a profound effect on Tetsuro Tanaka's sake brewing life.
Tetsuro Tanaka, who was awakened by sake brewing, was appointed as a commercial and industrial engineer at Niigata Prefectural Brewery Testing Laboratory. After serving as a technical officer such at the Nagoya Tax Supervision Bureau's Appraisal Department, he spent his life working on brewing Ginjo-shu and established the above-mentioned "Kenjokai" for Niigata's sake. He taught the sake technique strictly and thoroughly to chief sake brewers at Kenjokai. He seemed to have made the chief sake brewers learn about the theoretical sake brewing techniques such as polished rice to steamed rice, malted rice, raw unrefined sake, and squeezing, as well as made them learn things practically.
Later, Ishimoto Shuzo, who belongs to Kenjokai, produced the booming sake "Koshino Kanbai." Of course, this sake was largely due to the achievements of Tetsuro Tanaka, and it was also the moment Tanaka's ideal sake was recognized throughout Japan.

Daigoro Tanaka’s Ideal Kiminoi Shuzou Sake

Daigoro Tanaka devoted his life to improving the quality of Niigata's sake and its sales promotion. Among his many achievements, the greatest achievement was participation in the establishment of the Brewery Testing Laboratory, the only prefecture-owned brewing test site in Japan, with Kounosuke Hirasawa of Asahi Shuzou and others. He has made great contributions to improving the quality of Niigata’s sake along with "Tetsuro Tanaka, the father of Niigata's sake", "Goro Kishi, the father of modern sake", and "Asahi Shuzo", an excellent Niigata sake brewer.
From the introduction of Japan's first enamel tank, the improvement of sake quality using a vertical rice mill, "the commercialization of Yamahai-shikomi" of a byword for Kiminoi Shuzou, and to the birth of many finest sake, he contributed not only to Kiminoi Shuzou, but also to the dramatic improvement of Niigata's sake.
Since then, Kiminoi Shuzou has inherited the spirit of Daigoro. In November 1967, we built the "New Factory designed by Mr. Jiro Shibata," latest in the brewing industry, and in 1992 we introduced a computer-controlled rice mill. We have been still pursuing technological innovation in order to improve the quality of sake and to stabilize the quality.

< Daigoro Tanaka Career >
”Niigata Sake Brewery Association” established on April 5, 1948 Representative: Daigoro Tanaka
"Niigata Sake Brewery Cooperative Association" established on November 15, 1948 Promoter and Representative: Daigoro Tanaka
”Niigata Alcoholic Beverages Wholesale Cooperative” established at the end of June 1949 First board chairperson: Daigoro Tanaka
“Niigata Prefectural Wholesale Liquor Sales Association” established First board chairperson: Daigoro Tanaka

References (excerpt)
50 years history of Niigata Sake Sales Co., Ltd.
History of Niigata Brewery
70 years history of Asahi Sake Brewery
A man who dedicated his life to the rare sake brewing