The Yonezawa Brewery is located in Nakagawamura, officially one of the most beautiful
villages of Japan. Nestled against the flanks of the Ina valley in the
southern Japanese Alps resemble the whitewashed buildings of the brewery
to be miniatures. Like many other breweries in the
Nagano Prefecture, Yonezawa has a limited production capacity and
there is a strict limit on how much they can execute. Because
Kaori and Yonezawa have known each other for years, fortunately we always have a
The brewery has two brands. The main brand Imanishiki derives
indirectly his name to the man who founded the brewery in 1907.
Yasotaro Yonezawa was an amateur sumo wrestler and won under the
fighter name Imanishiki a lot of local tournaments. When he stopped taking
the sport, he started his brewery and chose his fighter name as the
brand. Also as a sake brand, Imanishiki quickly scored many prizes, first
locally but later also nationally and internationally. How Imanishiki won
among other things, the highest distinction during the first international
sake competition organized by the Concours Mondiale de Bruxelles in
2018. The sumo wrestler’s fighting spirit to be the best is alive
clearly reflected in the uncompromising quality of the products. It
the brewery’s second brand is called Nakagawamura no Tamako. The name
refers to the tadpoles that live in the water of the local rice fields
play, a sign of fertility and vibrancy. They symbolize
also the brewery’s commitment to the preservation of the
traditional rice cultivation in the region.
The Yonezawa brewery mainly processes Miyama nishiki and Kinmon
nishiki, two types of rice native to Nagano Prefecture.
The yeast used is also of local origin. All their sake is
filtered with a traditional tub press (funeshibori) which these days
is quite unique. It is a slow process, but guarantees a very
refined texture. Yonezawa’s sake is a textbook example of
technical craftsmanship and pure virtuosity, of umami and fruitiness,
of balance and elegance.