"AFURI" Rain Sake by Kikkawa Jozo

Norimichi Goto

2nd August, 2022

Kikkawa Jozo was founded in 1912. We are a sake brewery located in Godo, Isehara, Kanagawa Prefecture.
It is located about an hour's drive from Haneda International Airport, at the foot of Mount Tanzawa Oyama, one of Japan's most sacred mountains and a rare nature reserve.

Mount Tanzawa Oyama can be seen from anywhere in the Kanto area, just like Mount Fuji, and has been revered by the Japanese since ancient times as a special mountain filled with mystery. Due to steam from Sagami Bay, the mountain was always covered with rain clouds, even when the weather was fine nearby, giving rise to the mountain's other name, Amefuri-Yama, which in turn became Afuri-Yama (Mt. Rainfall), and to the mountain's cult of "making rain". Ritual sites and pottery from the Jomon period have been found on top of Mt. Oyama, suggesting that the mountain was an object of veneration at least from that time.
This veneration reached its peak in the Edo period (1603-1867), when the "Ryo-mairi" (pilgrimage to the two mountains) became popular, with pilgrims making the pilgrimage with Mount Fuji. It is said that the annual number of climbers reached 200,000 while the population of Edo was one million, which shows the extent of the fervour.

Mount Afuri

The Oyama-Afuri Shrine was built in 97 BC, about 2,200 years ago, on this Tanzawa Oyama. The main shrine (Kami-sha), which houses the main deity, is located at the top of the mountain, but the Shimo-sha shrine, located about 700m above sea level, is known as the shrine in the sky and can be easily visited by cable car. The view from Shimo-sha was awarded two stars by the Michelin Japan Green Guide in 2020.
Oyama Afuri Shrine is also known as the "God of Sake" and Kikkawa Jozo has had a close relationship with the shrine since its founding. After all, the name of the place, Godo, derives from "gate of the gods".

The rain that falls on Mount Tanzawa-Oyama seeps underground and descends to the foothills over a long period of time as groundwater. Kikkawa Jozo draws this water from a well and uses it as brewing water. This water contains a good balance of minerals such as magnesium and calcium, and is a very rare type of hard water in Japan (with a hardness of 150-160 mg/L, the highest level in Japan). Hard water facilitates fermentation, making the taste of sake deeper and richer, and its aroma richer and fuller.

Another brewing method unique to Kikkawa Jozo that deserves special mention is the so-called "Sugiyama-ryu" method. We are one of the few breweries today to have inherited the brewing philosophy of the late Dr. Shinsaku Sugiyama (professor of brewing at Tokyo University).
Dr. Sugiyama was known as the "lone scientist of brewing" and used special techniques for the preparation of the shubo (mother of sake). It can be said that his philosophy and methods of brewing more carefully over time in small breweries can only be achieved in a small brewery like Kikkawa Jozo

Since its inception, Kikkawa Jozo has been known primarily in Isehara City under the Kikuyu brand, but in the spring of 2021, the company announced a new brand, AFURI, which it will market throughout Japan and overseas. The name "AFURI" is of course a reference to the Oyama Afuri Shrine on Mt. Afuri, and the word "AFURI" on the label was written by a priest of the Oyama Aburi Shrine.
Since its launch, Amezure has won gold medals at the world's leading sake competitions, including the International Wine Challenge in the UK, the Concours Mondial des Vins Féminalise in France and the Bordeaux Sake Challenge, which it entered for the first time. The first time we entered the competition we received a gold medal. The whole brewery is delighted to have received the Platinum Award for Junmai Daiginjo 'NARI' at the recent Kura Master 2022.

The history of sake brewing goes back more than 2,000 years and can be described as the story of combining the traditional wisdom of our ancestors with the innovative technology of the time.
Our "Afuri" is also based on hybrid ideas and production methods. We want to revive traditional brewing techniques (e.g. the use of the koji lid method) and use the latest advanced technology (e.g. the introduction of oxygen absorbers) to ensure that our customers receive the best possible sake.

Currently, the focus is on "low pasteurised" sake. Sake is usually made from rice that has been reduced by half, as the outer husk of the rice contains many amino acids and proteins, which tend to be the "bad taste" of sake, and are therefore removed beforehand.
Kikkawa Jozo, however, uses an unorthodox rice polishing rate of 90% (i.e. only 10% of the brown rice is removed) and still aims to achieve a beautiful sake quality. Making delicious, low-polish sake requires extreme precision in temperature and time management, and is a challenge for the Toji (Masanori Mizuno) and the brewers, but we believe that this is what makes it possible to produce sake that brings out the full potential of the rice, which cannot be achieved anywhere else.

Toji -Masanori Mizuno-

Finally, the theme of Kikkawa Jozo, "Sake for Life's Sake", is a distortion of "Art for Life's Sake" proposed by Jean-Marie Guyau. Indeed, our goal is to create "a sake that accompanies and colours your life".
We hope that people all over the world will appreciate the taste of sake and its deep culture and stories.

Norimichi Goto, 7th generation KURAMOTO of Kikkawa Jozo

Kikkawa Jozo

Original text

私たち、吉川醸造の創業は 1912年(大正元年)。神奈川県伊勢原市神戸にある日本酒蔵です。





「雨降」は発表以来、世界の主要な日本酒コンテストであるイギリスのInternational Wine Challenge、フランスのLe Concours Mondial des Vins Féminalise、Bordeaux Sake Challenge等で、初めての応募から金賞を受賞することができました。先頃行われたKura Master 2022では純米大吟醸「成 NARI」がプラチナ賞を受賞し、蔵一同で喜びを分かち合っています。



最後に、吉川醸造のテーマである”Sake for Life’s Sake” はJean-Marie Guyauらの提唱した”Art for Life’s Sake” のもじりです。これは私たちが「人生に寄り添い、生活を彩るお酒」をつくることを目指しているからです。

吉川醸造 第七代目蔵元 合頭義理

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Norimichi Goto

Kikkawa jozo