Not even a single misstep is accepted. Sake becomes great because all brewers are aware of this.

Echigo-toji (Chief brewer of Echigo), AOKISHUZO
Hidehiro Shinbo

Seimai (Rice Milling)

Sake brewing starts from rice milling.
Outer layers of protein and fat surrounding rice grains are removed to a certain extent to prevent koji (malt) mold and yeast from becoming excessively nutritious.
The more it’s polished, the higher the sake quality becomes.

Senmai, Shinseki (Washing and Soaking)

Nuka (rice bran) left on the rice after polishing is washed away. After that, rice is soaked in water to attain certain water content.
To avoid putting stress on rice, the temperature of water used to wash and soak rice and the rice temperature are kept the same.

Mushimai (Steaming)

After the rice is soaked, it is steamed in a huge steaming vat called a koshiki.
Steam is adjusted so that the rice absorbs just the right amount of water that is adequate for making koji and kakemai (rice used to make mash).
Steamed rice is spread on cloth and cooled down as it is stirred by both hands.

Koji (Rice Malt)

Koji mold is sprinkled on steamed rice in a special room called the muro where room temperature is kept between 30-50 degrees and humidity maintained below 60%. The process is completed in approximately fifty hours.
The use of koji converts the starch in the rice into sugar to prompt alcohol fermentation.

Shubo (Yeast Starter)

Finished koji, steamed rice, water and pure yeast concentration are mixed in a tank and fermented to create the shubo. It is called moto (foundation) as it is the foundation of sake.

Danjikomi (Successive stages of mixing rice, koji and water)

This process is done in three successive stages over four days. The first day process is called “hatsuzoe,” the second is called “odori” which is the waiting period for the yeast to increase. The second addition of rice, koji, and water is done on the third day which is called “nakazoe.” The final addition on the fourth day called “tomezoe” completes this process. The shubo, koji rice, and steamed rice mixed in the tank turn into liquid called moromi (mash). Saccharification by koji and alcohol fermentation by yeast occur in parallel.

Shibori (Pressing)

After fermentation, fresh raw sake is squeezed from aged moromi (mash).
There are different pressing methods such as using pressing machines, and manual pressing called okeshibori and fukurozuri.
At this stage, moromi is separated into fresh raw sake and sake lees.

Hiire (Pasteurization)

Freshly pressed sake is filtered and pasteurized at about 65 degrees to kill bacteria.
After that, it is left to age to bring out the harmony of the taste.

Bindume (Bottling)

When the flavor is completed, sake is pasteurized again for the purpose of preservation from decay and bottled for shipping. Finally, bottled sake is sterilized by heat using pasteurizers.