Hikami Sake Brewery| Okuizumo Shimane [Nanakanba,Tamahagane]

Pure, Clean Sake: A Story Woven in Okuizumo

Hikami Sake Brewery
            Non-Foaming Yeast

Hikami Sake Brewery
                Non-Foaming Yeast


< Shimane Pref. >

・Izumo Taisha, the Land Where Gods Gather

October on the lunar calendar is the month in which countless gods gather in the land of Izumo, which is the old name for Shimane Prefecture. It is called kannazuki (the month when there are no gods) because all the other regions are missing their gods. However, in Izumo, it is called kamiarizuki (the month when there are gods). Legend has it that once a year, gods all over Japan would gather at Izumo Taisha, where Okuninushi no Okami, the deity that governs all divine work invisible to the eye, is enshrined. They would hold a gods’ conference to discuss matchmaking for people’s happiness. Kamiari is when gods from all across Japan gather at Izumo Taisha. A divine welcome ritual for the gods, abundant with ancient rituals, is held roughly one kilometer to the west of Izumo Taisha at Inasa Beach.

・Shimane, the Birthplace of Sake

Many legends have been passed down in the Izumo region, including Japan’s oldest historical documents such as the Kojiki and the Nihon Shoki. Through such times, sake has played a big role.

The story goes back to 1300 years ago at Saka Shrine in Izumo. The Gazetteer of Izumo Province, which was compiled in the Nara period, has the following record, “A great number of gods gathered, built a kitchen for cooking, and made sake. And for a long time, they would leave after a drinking party every night. Saka Shrine’s ‘Saka’ comes from sakamizuki (drinking party).” It is said that Kusu no Kami, the sake brewing god,was enshrined there, making it the birthplace of sake.
Similarly, it is said that the gods would make one final stop at Mankusen Shrine in Izumo for a naorai after the gods finished their conference during kamiarizuki. Naorai refers to a ceremonial party or banquets. It was a time and place for the gods to enjoy sake as they prepared their minds to go back to their daily lives. As the gods drank together there, they would promise to reunite the following year and travel home.

< Okuizumo-cho >

・The Village of Legends and the Tatara, Okuizumo

It is said that Susano no Mikoto descended onto Mt. Torikami (currently Mt. Sentsu), located at Okuizumo where we brew our sake. Susano no Mikoto met Kushinaguhime, who was to be sacrificed to a giant monster named Yamata no Orochi that was ravaging the lands. Susano no Mikoto prepared eight tubs of strong sake, placed the monster’s head in the tubs and forced him to drink. The intoxicated Yamata no Orochi fell asleep, and Susano no Mikoto then vanquished the monster with his sword. This alcohol has been passed down through generations as Yashiori sake.

・Okuizumo Nature and Sake Brewing

Among the mountains in eastern Shimane Prefecture is Okuizumo’s Nita District. Surrounded by the Chūgoku Mountains, the district experiences heavy snowfall due to the seasonal winds blowing against the East Sea. Despite the harsh weather, the land is blessed with bountiful nature. Their rice is famous, as people say “the east has Uonuma rice, and the west has Nita rice.” Nita rice is the leading variety of rice in the Chūgoku region, a region known for great sake rice. Mt. Sentsu, the mountain onto which Susano no Mikoto descended, is the water source for Hinokawa (currently the Hii River), which has abundant water of slightly soft water quality that supports both the rice cultivation and sake brewing in the region.


Mt. Sentsu, the mountain that Susano no Mikoto descended onto, is the water source for Hinokawa (currently the Hii River). Its underground water is used in the brewing process. The water is mediumsoft. It has many minerals, such as potassium, phosphoric acid, and magnesium, which are effective components for sake brewing. This makes it perfect for the fermentation process.


Our brewery uses the sake rice produced in the Nita Region of Okuizumo. As they say, “the east has Uonuma rice, and the west has Nita rice.” We are very thorough with polishing our rice.

< Saka-nishiki >Produced at the Obarashinden Rice Terraces in Okuizumo, Shimane Prefecture.

This sake rice is named after the Saka Shrine, which is said to be where the god of sake brewing, Kusu no Kami was enshrined. It is also known as the birthplace of sake. The rice we use is cultivated at the Obarashinden Rice Terraces, which was designated as one of the 100 Terraced Rice Fields of Japan. The rice is known for its hard and refreshing quality that it imparts to sake. We use it in Hikami Sake Brewery’s Nanakanba Junmaishu and yamahai sake.

< Kairyo-omachi >Produced in Okuizumo, Shimane Prefecture

Omachi, a variety of nationally acclaimed sake rice, was selectively bred in Shimane Prefecture to create Kairyo-omachi. The core of each grain is very soluble, making it difficult to use in sake brewing. However, it creates a mellow sake quality. It is mainly used in our seasonal products.

< Enishi no Mai >Produced in Shimane Prefecture.

It’s the newest variety of rice in Shimane Prefecture, having been registered in 2019. This sake rice is easy to cultivate and use in sake brewing. It leads to a refreshing taste, and a unique aftertaste and aroma.

< Gohyakumangoku >Produced in Okuizumo, Shimane Prefecture

This rice boasts the largest planted surface area in Shimane Prefecture. Its grains are small in size, but the sake it creates has a smooth, refreshing taste. It is mainly used in standard junmaishu.

< Yamada-nishiki >Produced in Shimane Prefecture and Hyogo Prefecture

This rice is known as the king of sake rice. Not only do we use Yamadanishiki from Shimane Prefecture, but we also make our highgrade sake with rice from Hyogo Prefecture, which is Japan’s top producer of Yamada-nishiki.

The Brewery that Discovered Non-Foaming YeastYeast

< The Brewery that Discovered NonFoaming Yeast >

Sake is made by using two types of microbes: koji mold and yeast. The koji mold turns rice starch into sugar, and the yeast uses that sugar for fermentation. This results in alcohol.There is a brewing process called Multiple Parallel Fermentation in which conversion to sugar and fermentation happen simultaneously in the same container. This is extremely unusual in the world and stands out even amongst Japanese sake brewing techniques.

There is a brewing process called Multiple Parallel Fermentation in which conversion to sugar and fermentation happen simultaneously in the same container. This is extremely unusual in the world and stands out even amongst Japanese sake brewing techniques.This fermentation process produces carbon dioxide, which releases large amounts of foam in the fermentation tank. If left alone, the foam would continue to grow and overflow from the tank. Thus, brewers would take shifts during the night to watch over the foam a task called awamamori which was quite hard.

In 1962, Kozo Tamura, our 14thgeneration owner, was working in the brewery when he spotted a tank without an excess of foam. Usually, these tanks would be filled with a large amount of white foam. To determine the cause of this phenomenon, Kozo took the unrefined sake to the Brewing Factory of NRIB (currently the National Research Institute of Brewing) at Takinogawa in Tokyo. The researcher at the time, Mr. Yuichi Akiyama (who later became the head of the Brewing Society of Japan), was able to detect the reason. By repeatedly improving on his research, the current NonFoaming Yeast was born. This yeast has many advantages over conventional yeast strains, such as stronger fermentation and no need for awamamori. Thus, it has contributed greatly to the development and productivity of sake techniques. This yeast is now used for sake brewing in many breweries all over Japan.

In 1996, the area was praised for discovering Nonfoaming Yeast, and a monument was erected at the former site of our brewery. Professor Akiyama’s words, “The Brewery that Discovered NonFoaming Yeast” are carved on the monument. This shows what we have contributed to the history of sake production.

Hikami’s sake brewing mainly uses the Brewing Society of Japan’s NonFoaming Yeast No. 701, 901, and 1801. No. 701 is used in our normal sake: Hikamimasamune and some of our junmaishu. No. 901 is used for a wide range of Special Designation Sake, from junmai daiginjo to junmai. No. 1801 is mainly used in a variety of highgrade daiginjo sake.

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