Most of Chiba prefecture lies on the hilly Boso Peninsula, a rice farming region, the East coast of which is known as the Ninety-Nine League Plain, an especially productive area. The Kuroshio Current [or Black Tide] flows around Chiba’s shores, which keeps it relatively warmer in winter and cooler in summer than neighbouring Tokyo.
The Terada Honke brewery is in the town of Kozaki in Chiba prefecture and was founded in 1673 [they have been brewing Sake for over 345 years!]. They make naturally brewed sake using only organic rice, all the work is done manually with the only outside help being from the yeasts and various micro-organisms that are naturally inhabiting the air within the old walls of the brewery. The current Toji [Master Brewer] & Kuramoto [Brewery Owner] at Terada Honke is Masaru Terada who took over from his father-in-law [Keisuke Terada]. Masaru-san is the 24th generation to own the brewery and he continues the traditional approach to Sake production.
Production at Terada Honke is centred around the traditional Kimoto method [original yeast starter]. They also brew using the ancient Bodaimoto method which is known as the ‘pre-modern’ method of creating Sake, first originating from a temple in Nara over 400 years ago.
Terada Honke also own 2 hectares of land where they grow their own rice. Here they cultivate pesticide and herbicide-free strains of different rice varieties including Kameno-o, Shinriki and Chiba Nishiki varieties. They are also leading the way in the recovery of old indigenous species of rice of their area. Apart from their own rice fields, they also have 10 local farms growing rice for them; they are all practicing organic farming, but each has its own originality in their natural rice cultivation, such as rice duck farming [a method where ducks are freed in the rice fields, to let them eat the weeds and the bugs] and non-tilled cropping [where rice is cropped without ever ploughing the soil].
Also all of the rice used in production is hand-washed without the use of machines. Terada Honke is also one of only a handful or breweries in Japan making their own Koji-kin (the starch converting mould Aspergillus Oryzae).