Fukuju, the brewery that uses the power of water
It would no exaggeration to claim that brewing sake at Fukuju is brewing sake that draws on the power of water, the fruits of the natural bounty offered by the Rokko Mountains. We are constantly pursuing the ideal taste of sake by combining our own techniques with the bounty that is the famous mystical water known as Miyamizu*, which comes from a subterranean river from the Rokko Mountains.
*In the late Edo period, Yamamura Tazaemon brewed sake in both Settsu Nishinomiya (today’s Nishinomiya) and Uozaki (today’s Nada Ward), and noticed that the flavor from his two breweries was subtly different. Changing the rice made no difference, nor did swapping the toji, or brew-masters. Whatever he tried, the sake from Nishinomiya was always better. Finally, in 1840, he discovered that it was the difference in water that was responsible for the difference in tastes. After that, Nada breweries all focused on using the water from Nishinomiya (“Miyamizu” or “Miya water”), spreading the district’s fame across Japan as the best place to brew sake.
Miyamizu, the mystical water created from the Rokko Mountains subterranean rivers
The rain fall in southern side of the Rokko Mountains percolates underground and becomes groundwater. The two subterranean rivers that flow to the southeast of the Nishinomiya Shrine in Nishinomiya City, the Fudabasuji and the Hoanji, are both rich in minerals such as phosphorus, potash, and iron. However, by mingling with the Ebisu subterranean river, which contains high amounts of oxygen, the iron oxidizes into iron oxide, and is then filtered through the soil. This eventually removed the iron, leaving hard water ideal for making sake. This is the true nature of the mystical water of Miyamizu that has underlain sake brewing in Nada. Miyamizu, listed as one of the Hundred Great Waters of Japan, only comes to the surface in an area a few hundred square meters in size in Nishinomiya City.
Miyamizu contains more phosphorus and potash compared with normal well water. These are nutrients that the koji mold and yeast, both vital for sake production, really love, so it promotes a safe yet powerful alcohol fermentation process. The result is the refreshing yet rich, seductive taste of Nada sake, what is commonly called “male sake.” Fukuju’s “dignified framework” and “well-rounded, full-bodied flavor” are strongly influence by this Miyamizu.
New tastes from blending waters
At Fukuju we have tackled new challenges to “draw on the power of water” in each of our processes as a way to find that ideal flavor. In particular, we tried blending the mystical water of Miyamizu with waters with different properties to create well-rounded sake that offers a mellow mouth-feel. Based on our belief that we need to rely on our senses to understand the properties of different waters, and not just scientific analyses, our brewers understand the properties of water and heighten their sensibilities by constantly tasting the water in the way they taste sake.
In addition to our “dignified framework” through blending waters, Fukuju’s sake offers a mellow and gentle mouth-feel combined with a well-rounded, full-bodied flavor—a taste that is quite unique.