Shiga prefecture is one of Japan’s few inland prefectures, as only 8 of Japan’s 47 prefectures are not bordered in some way by ocean or sea. Shiga does however contain Lake Biwa, which is Japan’s largest lake and accounts for one-sixth of Shiga's total area and is thought to be 5 million years old. The Lake Biwa plains are surrounded by Mt. Ibuki to the Northeast, the Suzuka Mountain Range to the East, Mt. Hira and Mt. Hiei to the West, and the Shigaraki Mountains lie to the South. Almost 500 brooks and rivers flowing out of the surrounding mountains supply the lake with fresh water.
Established in 1854, Okamura Honke is located in Toyosato, on the East side of Lake Biwa, where they take advantage of the water flowing from the mountains for their Sake production. The cool winds that blow from the mountains also help the quality of the production during the brewing season. Under the current 7th generation Kuramoto [Brewery Owner] Hiroyuki Okamura and Tōji [Master Brewer] Mitsuo Sonoda the quantities per shikomi** [sake making] are kept below 900kg of rice per fermentation tank, and are often considerably less. For the Chōju Kinkame Cha 70 listed below they make only one or two tanks in total. All the rice is Shiga rice grown by farmers in the area, they apply absolutely no carbon filtration to their sake and any of their hiire sake are only pasteurised once, instead of the usual twice.
**Many of our breweries only make small shikomi, which is measured in terms of the kilos of rice that went into each individual tank to create that batch of sake. Some breweries, including Okamura Honke, will use as little as 500-600kg for their shikomi, which makes a very low yield. A more typical shikomi in a brewery would be 1,000 kg or more.