100+ Years Old Businesses Series – Sudo Honke, Oldest Sake Brewery

The history of Sudo family can be chased back to at least Year 1141. Since then the  family had produced sake. It has been passing along 55 generations and gradually focusing on premium and most prestigious sake in Japan and the world.  Bottles of Sudohonke are served in the residence of the Prime Minister of Japan to represent the goodness of Japanese culture. Among all the businesses we have introduced so far, Sudo Honke is definitely the most famous one with a lot of media exposure via BBC, Japanese government and global summit like G7.

(photo credit to Sudo Honke official online shop - Japanese only)

The brewery is located in an area called Obara, about 1 hour and 40 minutes drive from Tokyo up north. The family started as as samurai warriors with a mission of revitalizing the economy. With that purpose, they started brewing sake. A head of family used to have two names; Gensayuemon as a samurai, and Gen-uemon as a brewer. There are trees of 800 years old in the brewery site and they help reserve quality waters for the production. They also help reduce impact of the 2011 earthquake on the business.  Miraculously, the brewery was not affected by the exposure of radiation sites after the earthquake at all so that the business could continue.

(photo credit to Sudo Honke official website)

On the official website, along with the trees, 4 other commitments to sake, soil, rice and water together differentiate the business from its competitors. An eco-environment with nutrition rich dark soil secures the quality of all materials growth in the field. Freshness of the rice is guaranteed by using those within 5 month of harvest. Underground water is safe and pure. All the above generate award winning sake for hundreds of years. The commitments reveal perseverance, loyalty and sense of honor which are aligned with Bushido, the way/ethic of warriors from samurai way of life. 

More details at the following video by @Great Big Story. Plan your trip with some sake tasting paired with cheese next time in Japan!

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