Wakayama prefecture is located in the southwestern part of the large Kii peninsula, which is part of Japan’s main island, Honshū, and is known for it’s mild climate, beautiful scenery and famous hot springs. Facing the Pacific Ocean, Wakayama’s 600km coastline has rows of precipitous cliffs which have attracted people since ancient times as sacred sights, including Mount Koya-san the 1,200-year-old sacred ground for Buddhism in Japan and the ancient pilgrimage route Kumano Kodo. Also making up Wakayama prefecture are 130 islands of varying size which stud the sea around the main part of the prefecture. As Sake breweries tend to be situated in colder areas of Japan there is a limited amount of Sake breweries in the Wakayama prefecture because of it’s year round mildness, with only 23 active breweries currently registered in the prefecture. Wakayama does however have a long history in other forms of fermentation such as shoyu [soy sauce], with the town of Yuasa, south of Wakayama City being famous for being the birth place of soy sauce over 800 years ago.
Most of the sake breweries in Wakayama can be found on the western coast of the prefecture in Wakayama City or along the Kinokawa River or, as in the case of Nakano BC, Kainan City. Nakano BC is a relatively recent brewery established in 1961, so even though in Australia we would consider 50 years to be a significant history, in Japan it is considered a ‘newcomer’ because of the fact that many breweries have been brewing for hundreds of years. Nakano BC is a comparatively larger brewery because they also produce their well-known mirin [rice ‘wine’], shochu [distilled spirit] and a wide variety of umeshu [fruit liqueur]. Often the Sake produced by Nakano BC are very unique as can be seen by the two examples we have been able to source.