"Now and in the future, we will continue to pursue excellent sake."
Established in the 5th year of the Meiji era in Kawanoe
UMENISHIKI had its roots in the oil production business that utilised waterwheels in the Kinseikawa River, enriching the Kawanoe region. The founder, Yurata YAMAKAWA, initially engaged in oil extraction and, as a side business, began polishing rice. Subsequently, he ventured into sake brewing. The original shop name was "FUJII," and the brand was named "FUJINOSAWA".
The town of Kanekawa, where the Umenishiki Yamakawa Co., Ltd. brewery now stands, was once known for its flourishing plum groves. The ancestral plum orchard owned by the family also boasted splendid blossoms. The brand name "UMENISHIKI" is derived from the beautiful plum flowers and their fragrance, and it was officially registered as a trademark in July of Taisho 5 (1916).
During the Meiji, Taisho, and Showa eras, UMENISHIKI’s sake quenched the thirst of the local people in the Toyo region and gradually spread to the West Sanuki region.
The UMENISHIKI spirt passed down by generations of Toji
The excellence of UMENISHIKI sake is a result of the dedication of the brewery workers. Since ancient times, when almost all processes were done manually, the Toji (master brewer) and other workers, keenly observant of the subtle changes in sake production, have passed down their experiential wisdom to the next generation.
Mr. Takaji ASE, the natural great chief sake maker, and Mr. Fukuhei YAMANE, who was selected as a modern master craftsman brought to fruition the sake brewing of “UMENISHIKI”. They have expended generous effort in making sake that is ideal for Kawanoe region, where is surrounded by Mt. Ishizuchi and Hiuchinada. Today, the brewers who have inherited this UMENISHIKI spirit are still involved in sake making every day.
The main building and the storehouse for sake making registered tangible cultural property
Facing the old road leading from Kawanoe to Kochi, the main building, constructed around the 10th year of the Meiji era (1880), boasts a dignified appearance with its hipped roof and traditional tile roofing. Together with the brewing facility, it stands as a prominent landmark in the region. In the year 2001, the main building and brewing facility of UMENISHIKI were officially registered as tangible cultural properties. The “cedar ball”, the symbol of the sake brewery, still hangs above the eaves of the main building.
ONIGAWARA(“a demon roof tile”) of an orangutan dancing at the sake brewery
Crafted by the first generation, Rokutarō SASAKI, the Shōjō Oni-gawara is a Noh play character. "Shōjō" refers to a red-faced, sake-loving spirit in Noh theater. Legend has it that the Shōjō bestowed a jar that never runs out of sake upon a filial son who was a sake seller. The Shōjō Oni-gawara, created through the Niroku-yaki technique, is a traditional craft of Shikokuchuo city, where intricate detailing is achieved without a potter's wheel, using only a bamboo spatula. This venerable demon-faced tile continues to watch over the UMENISHIKI sake brewery.
Pioneering Nationwide: Obtaining a License for Craft Beer Production
Following the relaxation of regulations in the Liquor Tax Law, the barriers to beer brewing lowered, leading to a surge in efforts across the country to produce "craft beer." In 1994, our company became the first nationwide to obtain a license for craft beer production. We promptly initiated beer brewing the following year. In 1995, we released "UMENISHIKI Beer," becoming a driving force in the "craft beer" boom.
Numerous Awards and Accolades
In the 1960s, Japan experienced a sake boom, and in the renowned book "Honmono no Nihonshu Erabi" (Choosing Authentic Japanese Sake), UMENISHIKI shone as the "Ozeki of the West." In 1965, UMENISHIKI received the Gold Award at the National New Sake Appraisal, marking the beginning of 12 consecutive years of Gold Awards.Award
In 1977, the Honjozo “TSU NO SAKE” and the pure Junmai unprocessed sake “SAKE HITOSUJI" made their debut. Their smooth and mellow flavours quickly propelled the UMENISHIKI brand to national recognition.
As of 2023(Reiwa 5), we won the Gold Prize at the annual Japan Sake Awards for 33 times, showcasing the consistent excellence of our sake.