Kinfundo Shuzo Kura Tour

On June 24th, little Kinfundo Shuzo sakagura in Kudamatsu, Yamaguchi held its annual open house. I used this event as the first meetup for the Yamaguchi Sake Lover‘s group, and there were 4 of us there, among a group of about 50 or so local fans.

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The old brewery shop, no longer in use.

Kinfundo has been making sake here since 1900, the 33rd year of the Meiji period, but there has been a sakagura on this spot since the Edo period–likely because of the very high quality water sourced from deep underground here. We were given samples of the water to start with, and all I can say is it was fresh, and soft, and tasted very nice. Not being a water expert…not sure what else to say?

The brewery is adjacent to the Hanaoka Hachimangu temple.

The brewery still follows the old tradition of Kanzukuri, only making sake from December to April, so this tour happens during the “down time”. We were thus unable to see actual kojizukuri or moromi bubbling, but the tour guide did take us through the steps. You can see rice washing, kojizukuri, and moromi in the pictures pasted on the tanks below.

Speaking of rice, Kinfundo uses Yamadanishiki for their premium sakes, and Yamaguchi’s own Saito no Shizuku for this karakuchi and lower end sakes.

This particular hall, where the tanks are stored, was built during the Meiji/Taisho period, (around 1912) making it just over 100 years old. It feels every bit as old as that. It was dark, and kind of dirty, and felt like a good old brewery should…

 

This is a secondary filtering machine, used after initial pressing. It is well used, clearly.

The big green machine is the press. Notice the rafter structure and wall finishing…very traditional construction methods, with no updates I can see.

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(Pardon the poor photo quality, the room was very dark and apparently my phone camera didn’t deal well with it.) This is an underground cool room for nama-zake and ginjo/daiginjo. It was originally cooled using water from a nearby mountain-spring fed river, but now has electric cooling installed.

These are older porcelain jars for special sake service, no longer used.

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This room was built with the initial brewery, in 1900. The pulley and tackle is no longer in use…

Left to Right: Junmai (dai)Ginjo (they labeled it as both ginjo and daiginjo, confusingly), Shiboritate Nama Genshu, Akatsuki Karakuchi
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Jousen, in a very unusual 900ml bottle. It was, honestly, harsh as a kick in the teeth.

After the tour, we were allowed to sample the brewery’s six products: Daiginjo, Junmai Ginjo, “Shiboritate” Namagenshu, Ikuyamakawa jizake, Akatsuki Karakuchi, and “Jousen” (a very old ranking, once considered the top class of sake, but now…not).

After the tasting, they had a blind taste testing to see if we could identify each one.

Only one person could (it wasn’t me, I mixed up the daiginjo and the nama genshu…). The Junmai was my favorite of the lot.

It was a lovely time, and fascinating as much for the history of the place and the people, as for the sake. Which was also good! I picked up some very special bottles, too, which I look forward to discussing here sometime soon.

So finish up, enjoy some random photos I took of the place.

 

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