Izumi-ryu Sake Brewing Method of Yahiko Shuzo

Izumi-ryu Sake Brewing Method, named after the izumi, or spring waters, that have been safeguarded at the foot of Mt. Yahiko, the famed peak of the Echigo region Mt. Yahiko, the famed peak of the Echigo region, with sweeping views of the Japan Sea and the Niigata Plain.

Located at its base, in a place called Izumi in the foothills, Yahiko Shuzo has received the blessings of nature and the gods, including Echigo Ichinomiya Yahiko Shrine.

Yahiko Shuzo was founded in 1838.
In 1848, the founder established his own, unique sake brewing method, known as the Izumi-ryu Sake Brewing Method.
At the time, this method was groundbreaking, resulting in sake that was “pale in color, light in taste, and of long-lasting quality.”Over many years, we have cultivated many skilled brewers, with apprentices numbering in the hundreds.
Many of those skilled brewers who trained in the Izumi-ryu method went on to become the master brewers of breweries in various parts of the countries. For this reason, Yahiko Shuzo became known as a “career-creating brewery.”

As the purveyor of sacred sake to Echigo Ichinomiya shrine, no matter how the environment surrounding Japanese sake may have changed, Yahiko Shuzo has remained unswayed by trends and has steadfastly safeguarded our own unique brewing style, named after the izumi or spring waters from which it is made, with loving care.

Genuine Japanese sake, hand-crafted in small quantities only in the depths of winter

Rice varieties of only the highest grade—Yamadanishiki grown in Hyogo Prefecture, and Yamadanishiki, Aikoku, Koshitanrei, and Gohyakumangoku grown here in Yahiko—are carefully polished in our pursuit of genuine Japanese sake, crafted by hand in small quantities amid the snowfalls of deepest winter.

We craft sake varieties of ginjo class and above, insisting, as far as possible in contemporary times, on the method of heat treatment in bottles and refrigerator management, to ensure that the sake stays as it was first created. This results in an excellent mouthfeel and a mellow, gentle flavor.
Clean sake that is as pure as snow. We invite you to savor it.

Echigo Ichinomiya Yahiko Shrine

This ancient forest housing the local deity, mentioned in the Manyoshu

"Iyahiko onore kamu sabi aokumo no tanabiku hi sura kosame sobo furu The mountain of Yahiko is so divine, that even on such a fine day as this, it bestows a light rain from the floating clouds"

This ancient, sacred forest is described in these words in the Manyoshu, the oldest collection of Japanese poetry, which is believed to have been compiled around AD 759. Yahiko Shrine sits at the base of Mt. Yahiko, which rises majestically from the vast expanses of the Echigo Plain. Since ancient times, it has been known affectionately as “Oyahiko-sama.”

The grounds are luxuriantly covered in foliage, with lofty old cedars and ancient Japanese Zelkova trees standing with majestic dignity. As the sake brewery that serves Yahiko Shrine, the premier shrine of Echigo, Yahiko Shuzo continues to safeguard sake that is as pure as snow and as precious as spring water.

As you pass under the vermillion torii gate, a striking sight against the green surrounds, and look down, you will see the babbling flow of the Mitarashi River that flows down from Mt. Yahiko. Cross the sacred bridge, Tamanohashi, over the Mitarashi River and follow the cobblestone path, absorbing the solemn atmosphere, until you come to a corridor of ancient trees.

Echigo Ichinomiya Yahiko Shrine

The enshrined deity of Yahiko Shrine is Ameno-Kagoyama-no-mikoto, who is the great-grandson of Amaterasu Omikami, the sun goddess who is the most important deity of the Shinto religion. Ameno-Kagoyama descended from the heavens with the other gods and lived in Kishu Kumano (in present-day Wakayama). When Emperor Jimmu (711-585 BC) embarked on his Eastern expedition, Ameno-Kagoyama offered up the sword of Futsu-no-mitama and was bestowed with great honor. Four years after Emperor Jimmu united the nation and acceded to the throne at Kashihara Shrine in Yamato (present-day Nara), Ameno-Kagoyama was ordered to administer the building of the province of Echigo. Crossing the raging seas of the Sea of Japan by boat, he landed at Nozumi Beach, in the far-off land of Koshinokuni.

There, he immediately set about teaching the local fisherfolk how to boil seawater to make salt and how to catch fish with nets and fishing hooks. He established Yahiko as the site of a shrine, conquered the barbarian tribes, and taught the locals how to grow rice and make sake. For six generations, his descendants carried on his work, which formed the foundations of the industrial culture of the Echigo region. He is indeed the founding god of Echigo Province and of its culture and industry.

It is not certain when Ameno-Kagoyama-no-mikoto was elevated to the status of the deity of the pioneering of Echigo and Yahiko Shrine was founded to honor him, but given how long ago the Manyoshu was compiled, it is believed to be at least 1300 years ago.