Are you a Omachist ?

In Okayama, it's possible to discover a special sake made from a rice that's just as special: Omachi rice. Focus on the Kumaya Shuzo brewery.

Kymaya Shuzo brewery near the Shinto temple

Originally a Shinto temple

The Ihoriya family founded their brewery during the Edo period, but that's not why they settled in Okayama. These natives of the Kishu Peninsula moved to the town of Kurashiki to help build the temple annexed to the Kumano Shrine

entrance to the Kymaya Shuzo sake brewery

Kura installation

As a result, the brewery was established later, on one of Japan's main pilgrimage routes to Kagawa on the island of Shikoku. In 1716, the third generation of owners took the name of the temple built by their ancestors and renamed the brewery “Kumaya Shuzo”.

Old photo of the Ihoriya family in their sake brewery in Okayama

Post-war turmoil

At the time of the Meiji era, it was one of 400 Kura in the region, all small units which unfortunately disappeared one after the other following the Second World War. Many of them were bought up by the big groups before going out of business for lack of manpower and the means to modernize, while others became mere liquid suppliers.

Haruo Ihoriya, current owner of Kumaya Shuzo sake brewery

A new direction

In 1991, Kumaya Shuzo got back on track with independent production and the brewery's own brands. Volumes were much lower, and a strong emphasis was placed on quality. Later, under the impetus of Haruo Ihoriya, the current manager, a return to the local terroir took place with the use of “Bizen Omachi” rice, Bizen being the ancient name of this province to the south-east of Okayama.

Mature Omachi sake rice plants

Omachi revival

Omachi rice had practically disappeared because it's a difficult strain to grow. With an average height of over one meter sixty, the plants lie down under the violent winds of typhoons. As it happens, the geography of the Okayama region is particularly well-suited to its cultivation, as it is surrounded by a string of mountains that protect the plain from storms. In addition, three rivers flow through the area, bringing abundant water to the rice paddies, and the climate is perfect for grain ripening, with a wide temperature range (hot, sunny days and cool nights). These factors led to a resurgence in Omachi rice cultivation some forty years ago, resulting in an almost monopolistic situation for the Okayama region, which produces over 90% of the quantities available in Japan (Source image of Omachi rice: Japanese Agriculture Cooperative - Okayama).

Omachi rice bags ready for sake production

Omachist ?

Omachi rice has become a quality brand, so much so that fans of sakes made with this rice are referred to as “omachists”. These are sakes with a rich, flavorful style, lots of volume and a strong impact.

in a Japanese denim jeans store in Kurashiki

Kurashiki denim

A detail worth highlighting is the worldwide reputation enjoyed by the city of Kurashiki in the production of high-quality denim. A particularity that Kumaya Shuzo has chosen to illustrate in the design of the An range labels, which echo the style woven in the region. If you happen to be in the area.

Ohara family home in Kurashiki

Ohara Art Museum

If you're passing through Kurashiki, the Ohara Art Museum is a must. Its installation in 1930 marked a turning point in Japan's openness to Western art. The permanent collection is breathtaking, as is the house next door belonging to this wealthy banker and patron of the early 20th century.

Kumaya Shuzo brewery sakes made from Omachi rice

Kumaya sake

We invite you to discover two emblematic references named “An Bizen Omachi”:

- Muroka Tokubetsu Junmai, a superb first step on the road to Omachi style

- A Muroka Junmaï Ginjo, a true technical achievement. Powerful umami, yet light and elegant at the same time.