Episode-80: Restoring Tradition: Kame Brewing with Kojima Sohonten

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Back in Episode 51 we explored the hard work being invested in restoring kioke, the large-scale traditional wooden tanks that transformed sake brewing in the Edo Period. Thanks to the hard work of many, supply can’t keep up with demand and as more and more breweries are wanting to reintegrate kioke back into their brewing practices and more woodworking craftsman are stepping up to learn the craft.

But brewing using kame has been completely abandoned for (probably) at least the past couple hundred years; that is until now.

As with the historical vessels commonly used for brewing during more primitive times in cultures all around the world, earthen ware pots, or kame, were long the standard containers where fermentation took place. Having been retired entirely following the development of the craftsmanship that led to larger wooden tanks and vessels that allowed brewers to significantly scale production, kamejikomi – brewing in earthenware pots – long ago became a thing of the past.

But in hopes of restoring brewing traditions, as well as the craftsmanship and lessons associated with them, a pair of breweries have recently managed to bring kamejikomi back to life in their respective kura. Across a pair of episodes featuring these respective breweries, we’ll hear about how this exciting challenge is being realized at a time when there’s still no real precedent in recent history.

In this episode, we’ll be hearing from Ken Kojima who represents 24 generations of Kojima Sohonten, makers of Toko brand sake, as well as both the Retsu and Kojimaya labels. Tune in to learn how it is that one of the oldest breweries in Japan decided to make a brewing dream a reality in their beautiful winter wonderland of Yonezawa in Yamagata Prefecture.

You can read more about Kojima Sohonten in this recent piece over at Japan Today, as well as follow along with the world of Toko Sake on Instagram at @toko_sake.

Don’t forget to follow along with Sake on Air over on InstagramTwitter, or Facebook, as well. You can also leave us a review on Apple Podcasts or your favorite listening service. Any additional comments and questions can be sent to us at questions@sakeonair.com.

We’ll be back with Part 2 of this special series that will feature Yucho Shuzo, the makers of Kaze no Mori, before you know it.

Until then, kampai!

Sake on Air is made possible with the generous support of the Japan Sake & Shochu Makers Association and is broadcast from the Japan Sake & Shochu Information Center in Tokyo. The show is a co-production between Export Japan and Potts.K Productions, with audio production by Frank Walter. Our theme, “Younger Today Than Tomorrow” was composed by forSomethingNew for Sake On Air.