Gozenshu is a famous local sake brewery in Okayama. For this article, I visited their shop Tsuji Honten, which is located among old-fashioned merchant’s shops and houses with namako walls and latticed windows in a preservation area of Maniwa City. Okayama is a castle town of the former Katsuyama feudal domain, and was a post town on the Izumo-gaido route.
The Beloved Gozenshu
Originally made for Miura, lord of the Mimasaka Katsuyama feudal domain, Gozenshu is brewed in the cold climate of Okayama using its delicious water and brewer’s rice. In the photo above, you can see (from the left) a junmai daiginjo sake called Kei, a junmai sake called Mimasaka, and the GOZENSHU 9 (NINE). Mimasaka is the popular cornerstone of their line-up.
At Gozenshu Kuramoto Tsuji Honten, customers may sample almost all of their most popular sake.
Brewery-Limited Sake – Kuramototanbo
Only sold at this brewery, Kuramototanbo is an unfiltered, unprocessed junmai sake. Methods of pasteurization and maturing change depending on the season, so there is always something new to look forward to.
When you buy this particular sake, staff fill the bottle directly from the storage tank. Quite dry, it has a rich taste and a strong, delicious rice flavor. As it can only be bought here, please come and try it for yourself!
The New Best-Seller – 9 (NINE)
Ms. Maiko Tsuji has been the chief brewer at Gozenshu since 2007. “I first started brewing sake in 2001. When I first came across sake brewing in university, I was completely unaware that such a fun job as this existed. The former chief brewer passed in 2006 due to illness, and when I took over I was completely reckless in running the business. We had lost a supporting pillar, so we needed to build a new one. We couldn’t very well continue with the old ways; if we had done so, we would not have lasted. So, everyone at the brewery worked together to create a new pillar: The sake 9 (NINE).”
The making of 9 (NINE) began in 2007, and sales followed in 2008. It is named 9 (NINE) as there are 9 people working at the brewery. This particular name was chosen because the new era demands that everyone work hard together towards a common goal, not one boss commanding their employees. Ms. Tsuji says, “Alcohol brings people together and works as lubrication. After working on developing 9, we always drank and talked passionately together.” The bottle is designed to be easy to take to parties. The ideal lubricant to smoothen communication, 9 is the very embodiment of Ms. Tsuji!
The Storehouse Restaurant – Nishikura
The former storehouse on the opposite side of the road to the main building has been renovated and is now a restaurant that goes by the name Nishikura.
The lunch set, nishikura-zen, is a top-notch meal consisting of delicious dishes including appetizers, broiled items, rice, miso soup, and other small dishes. You get the above-mentioned sake Kei to go with the appetizer (drivers can order yuzu juice instead). The broiled dish is Japanese bluefish made with sake lees from Gozenshu. It was tender, juicy and really good.
With the planned renovation of shop Kuramoto and restaurant Nishikura, Gozenshu Kuramoto Tsuji Honten will begin a new chapter in 2017. Come and see their brand new future for yourself.
Address: 116 Katsuyama, Maniwa City, Okayama Prefecture
Business hours: 10:00 – 17:00
Closed: Open throughout the year
Address: 116 Katsuyama, Maniwa City, Okayama Prefecture
Business hours: 11:00 – 15:00 (last orders 14:30)
Setouchi Photo-writer: Chiaki Sawasaka
Chiaki Sawasaka I was born in Okayama Prefecture, and came back to live here in 2010. I used to be a systems engineer, but now that I have returned to Okayama, I’m doing a number of different things, such as working at a local Okayama newspaper, organizational work and advertising. I like people who are kind and warmhearted, and who know how to stop for a minute and appreciate the beauty of nature. Over the last few years, I’ve come to know the richness, magnificence and the difficulties of living in the countryside. The sea is good, but the mountains are good, too. I sometimes go to the mountains to plant trees with Team yosako.
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