48 Azashitamachi, Gojōme-machi, Minamiakita-gunGoogle Map
|15 minutes by bus from JR Hachirogata Station
|Factory Opening Hours
|Closed during Saturdays and holidays, except during the Gojome Morning Market (open in the AM) Open houses (please inquire for details)
|By phone or online
In 1688 (Genroku 1) the first generation head of the Watanabe family, Hikobei Watanabe, started brewing sake in the Gojome Village of Ugo Province (present day Gojome Town in Akita Prefecture). In 1953 (Showa 28), the family established the Watanabe Hikobei Co., and in October of 2004, changed its name to Fukurokuju Brewing Co., Ltd. The name “Fukurokuju” is taken from one of the seven deities of good luck, and symbolizes auspiciousness—thus, they named the company after this god to wish the family good fortune, health, and longevity, and to wish the business success. With a history stretching past 300 years, “Fukurokuju” has a precious place among Akita’s sake breweries as a pillar of their history.
Here at Fukurokuju, we prioritize “region-ness”. For our rice, we use brewer’s rice bred with care by the Brewer’s Rice Research Association. For our water, we draw cool and clear water from underground, continuing to brew our sake with the same underground water that our founder Hikobei used. It is actually hard water, which is rare in sake brewing; rich in calcium and magnesium ions, it is colorless and clear, with a refreshing texture. In the words of our president, Watanabe Koei: “The taste of sake depends on the water you use. Although using soft water is suitable for drinking namazake (unpasteurized sake), sake made with hard water takes on a better flavor upon pasteurization. For that reason, we don’t make a lot of namazake here.” Through trial and error, we continue to learn the ideal temperatures and storage methods to match our base ingredients of rice and water, approaching our desired flavor.
In 1921 (Taisho 10), a fire swept our town, destroying 300 of the town’s buildings and most of the buildings on our premise. However, two of our brewing facilities managed to escape the disaster, and even now stand as they did back then. In 1996, those buildings were registered as National Tangible Cultural Properties. While preserving our traditions and history, we employ recent techniques to expedite our production and business. We pay particular attention to our temperature and moisture regulation, and all of our special designation sakes are stored in the same refrigeration warehouse that pasteurization takes place. By improving our storage method, we thoroughly manage our process to ensure that each year we reliably deliver sake of the same quality. As thus, we streamline our production process with the philosophy, “what should be done with hands will be done by people, and what can be done correctly and quickly with machines will be done with machines.” We also spare no effort in evaluating what methods and equipment we can invest in to reduce the labor incurred on our brewers.