Japan’s Niigata prefecture is considered by many to be the best place in the world to find high quality sake. Niigata is famed for its jizake, or unique, “micro-brewed” sakes with character. And that is where Yososaku Obata founded Obata Shuzo on Sado Island in 1892. Today, Obata Shuzo is run by the founder’s great-great granddaughter, Rumiko Obata, the fifth generation kuramoto (head of brewery).
Sado rice is rich and of excellent quality making Manotsuru sake so pure and rich, its equal cannot be found anywhere else. For more than a hundred years, Obata Shuzo’s brewers have been hand-making boutique premium sake using pure, soft groundwater and world-famous sake rice. The brewing of Manotsuru sake is done mostly by hand, the traditional way. Their Toji, brew master, is Kenya Kudo. Kenya apprenticed under Maho Matsui, a famed Toji, brew master and he is committed to producing premium sake that pays homage to the culture, terroir, and history of the island.
The symbol of Sado Island is the Japanese Crested Ibis (Toki in Japanese), an endangered species of bird, and the island is famous for its outstanding oysters. So, to honor the Toki and to preserve the environment, the brewery sources much of its rice from a local farmer whose fields are fertilized with local oyster shells and water drawn through oyster-shell filters. This reduces the need for chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Through these eco-friendly farming practices, Sado Island has been certified as GIAHS (Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems) in 2011.
The brewery has received multiple Gold Medals at the National New Sake Competition and the International Wine Challenge (London), Kura Master (Paris), and others. It has also been featured in Wine & Spirits, the Los Angeles Times, Wine Enthusiast, and Wine Spectator.