Gozenshu: Young Brewers, Female Toji, Bodaimoto, Omachi Rice
Great Article written about Tsuji Honten, the sake brewery that makes Gozenshu Sake in Okayama by Melbourne Sake. Source is linked at bottom!
Tsuji Honten brewery started in 1804 in the ridiculously picturesque country town of Katsuyama in Okayama prefecture. Their brand name “Gozenshu” was coined when they become the official sake makers for the local lord later in the 1800’s. “Gozenshu” literally translates as ‘Sake for the Lord’, but more appropriately (and way cooler) as “Gentleman Sake” (perhaps a special release name for Melbourne Sake in the making). They have been family owned ever since, with Maiko being the first family member to take on the responsibility of brewing and her brother, Soichiro, taking care of the business side of things.
Maiko grew up in and around the brewery, but never in a million years did the little Maiko think she would ever get involved in making sake. It took her to move away to the bright lights of Tokyo and to start drinking, as people in their 20’s do, to realise a) how fascinating and totally unique sake is, and b) how good her families brewery was compared to most!
This realisation led Maiko to ask her father if she could work in the brewery for one brewing season. Female kurabito (brewery workers) are still rare in Japan, so once the initial surprise had worn off, he gladly accepted the request. It didn’t take her long to fall in love with the process and the people involved. Maiko says that the workers in the brewery “sparkled with energy” even though they were all in their 60’s. This sparkling energy was totally devoid in the over worked and over stressed 20-something-year-old salarymen and women in Tokyo.
She worked under Takumi Harada (the Toji of 40 years) from 1999 to 2006, until he suddenly became ill in the middle of the brewing season. As the most experienced person left in the brewery, it fell to Maiko lead the team to finish the brewing season successfully. Mr. Harada passed away not long after the final batch was complete, able at least to see his protégé prove she was ready to take over his mantle. Maiko has been Toji ever since (one of less than 30 female Toji in Japan).
Full Article regarding Gozenshu, Bodaimoto & Omachi Rice at Melbourne Sake
Link to Gozenshu Sakes at Inter Rice Asia