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Japanese Ingredients for the World’s Top Kitchens #26

ORGANIC SAKE

A Decade of Organic Production

Mar 09, 2023

text by Michiko Watanabe / photographs by Daisuke Nakajima / English text by Susan Rogers Chikuba

Though the times are always changing, there are certain timeless ingredients from Japan that will never go out of style. Yukio Hattori, president of Hattori Nutrition College in Tokyo, introduces unique labors of love—items grown and produced with care and integrity by hardworking suppliers across the country.

Sake produced in Tochigi has such a strong following locally it can be hard to find outside the prefecture. In Otawara, Munenori Ozaki heads Tentaka Shuzo, one of three sake breweries in Japan to be certified organic by domestic, U.S. and European standards. He spoke with us about his vision for sustainable brewing that revitalizes rice farming and keeps his facilities free of environmentally hazardous materials.

“Our organic line goes back to 1996, after the old classification system for grading sake was phased out. We launched a study group to discuss new production methods, and young shop owners expressed their interest in obtaining artisanal, locally made sakes they could sell with pride. At the time organic certification didn’t even exist. We got certified in 2005 and released our first organic sake the following year.”

Blessed with plentiful underground springs and no snow, Nasu is the southernmost growing area for apples and northernmost for mikan citruses.

(photo left)Organic rice is stored and milled separately to meet certification requirements. 
(photo right)A team of two washes the rice, carefully gauging the time the kernels are exposed to water.

The seven organic labels include aromatic box- and drip-pressed sakes in addition to Junmai, Junmai Ginjo and Junmai Daiginjo.

(photo left)After the 2011 earthquake, the brewery converted from wood to steel to enable chemical-free sterilization.

Munenori Ozaki has steered Tentaka’s growth from local favorite to world player.



◎Tentaka Shuzo Co., Ltd.
2166 Hiruhata, Otawara-shi, Tochigi
☎0287-98-2107 
https://www.tentaka.co.jp/en/ 

(The Cuisine Magazine /March 2017)

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