FUKUCHIYO SHUZO

SAGA

Saga Prefecture is located in the north west of Kyushu Island, which is the southernmost of the four major islands in the Japanese Archipelago. Saga is bordered by the Genkai Sea and Tsushima Strait in the north and in the south by the Ariake Sea.  The Ariake Sea has a huge flat land area covering 6 km that appears offshore and because of it’s maximum tidal range only being about 6 m there are numerous types of unique fish living in the Ariake Sea and because of this is known as one of the best sources of delicacies in Japan. Saga is only 200km from the Korean Peninsula which has made the prefecture an important gateway for trade with other Asian cultures and it is thought that rice farming was introduced into Japan through the Kyushu province around 500BC from China.  This largely rural prefecture has the Sefuri Mountain Range in the north and the vast Saga Plains in the south, with almost 70% of the total prefecture consisting of agricultural lands and forests.  Numerous rice terraces can be found throughout the prefecture with many of them being considered amongst the best rice fields in Japan.  These terraces are rice fields that have been shaped like shelves, made on hills by opening up lands and drawing water from rivers into them and have not only become important for their crops but are also known for their beauty with many becoming tourist attractions.  One in particular - the Rice Terrace of Hama-no-Ura, is a spectacular sight in early May when its 283 paddies are filled with water and become like various sized mirrors reflecting the sky.

Fukuchiyo Shuzo was founded in 1924 and is located south of Saga City in the town of Kashima which faces the Ariake Sea. The Kuramoto [Brewery Owner] Naoki Iimori is also the Toji [Master Brewer] and his aim is to create sake that tastes unique, vibrant and fresh. One of the ways Iimori-san does this is by brewing his sake at low temperatures over a long period.  All of Fukuchiyo’s sake are made with a Sokujo moto [modern starter method] which at most breweries would mean a 14-16 day ferment, however Iimori-san doubles this time to around 30-33 days.  This ‘slow and low’ ferment creates freshness with body.  All of the sake at Fukuchiyo are also Muroka, or made without charcoal filtration. Iimori-san believes that if sake is made with quality ingredients and attention to detail, then charcoal filtration is not required.  Nabeshima is the clan name of a prominent Samurai clan of Kyushu that controlled the domain of Saga from the late Sengoku period through to the Edo period.  The Nabeshima name was taken by Shigenao Shoni [from the Shoni clan]  in the late 15th century when he established himself at Nabeshima in Hizen Province, which today is part of Saga City.  The Nabeshima clan played an important role in the region for centuries and Fukuchiyo have named their sake range in their honour.