Misato is a quiet village located in Yoshinogawa city, Tokushima prefecture. As well as being known for its numerous Genji fireflies (Luciola cruciata), it is also famous ume (Japanese plum) production.
In recent years, umeshu (ume fruit liqueur made by steeping ume in alcohol and sugar) production has become active, and the area has been certified as Japan’s first umeshu district.
There are numerous umeshu breweries, but this time we visited Higashino Liqueur Seizojo, which was Misato’s first! It is located by a mountain stream.
Mr. and Mrs. Higashino welcomed us with their lovely smiles.
The first place they showed us was not the brewery but their almost unbelievably vast ume plum orchard.
You can see plenty of beautiful ume fruit growing on the trees!
And then, suddenly, Mr. Higashino picked a fruit and took a bite!
For a moment my head was filled with the thought “Wh, what are you doing?”, but according to Mr. Higashino, “The first step to making delicious umeshu is tasting how the year’s fruit are”. I also tried one for the first time, but it was super sour.
The ume fruit harvested at this orchard is washed, slightly dried and then within 24 hours put into jars to steep. As freshly picked ume makes the best liqueur by utilizing the flavor of the fruit to its full potential, the speed at which it is steeped after harvesting is important.
At the time of our visit this year’s fruit had not yet been put into jars, but the storage walls were filled with umeshu jars from last year.
As you enter the storage area, the lovely scent characteristic of umeshu hits you. For an umeshu-lover like me, it’s irresistible…!
There is a place right next to the brewery where umeshu is sold directly. Here you can purchase three different types: Hakuryukyou, rich in fragrance and low in acidity; Koutsuzan, an umeshu with a sharp flavor, recommended to sake-loving men; and Kouryukyou, which is colored pink with red shiso!
If you come all the way to the direct sales point, you’ll naturally get a tour of the brewery, and you can also taste as much as you like!
Do try the pride of Misato district: umeshu!
Higashino Liqueur Seizoujou
Location: 5-5 Kawamata, Misato, Yoshinogawa city, Tokushima prefecture
Ordering: http://www.tokushima-marche.jp/umesyu/ (Japanese)
Setouchi Finder Photo-writer: Daisuke Chiba
Daisuke Chiba / Photo-writer I was born in 1985 in Miyoshi City, Tokushima Prefecture, and now live in Tokushima City. After graduating university, I worked at a publishing company as an editor for various mooks, and in April 2014 I went freelance. I work as a photographer, copy-writer and editor, but also do product development and other stuff as well. If anyone needs me, I can do anything! Except, in spite of my being from Tokushima, dancing - I’m really bad at dancing Awa Odori!
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