Go Circular! Vol.2 Plowing with Horses to Make Sustainable Sake

Tsunan Sake Brewery

03/18/2022 8:45 pm

Tsunan sake brewery and Sanbarikisha Co., Ltd have agreed to embark on comprehensive collaboration in the beverage sustainability domain, with the aim of realizing a sustainable society.

Tsunan, Niigata (June 1th, 2021) — Tsunan sake brewery, the maker of the “TA-ZIN-BA White” was awarded a silver medal at The 2021 Sake Division of The International Wine Challenge (IWC) competition, the most influential event of the Sake Review Board outside Japan.

The Tazinba team starts in the early hours, bringing in the horses from the pasture, feeding them hay and some oats. They brush beautiful horses, clean their hooves, “Horses are the gods of farmers.” says Sanbarikisha CEO Takashi Iwama.
Located in the Tsunan,Niigata prefecture, we are about tradition and history—and making history. The creation of Japanese sake using horses to plow the fields has started under the guidance of Takashi Iwama, one of the few remaining people who have kept alive ancient techniques of plowing and logging with horses.

Sake-growing with Horses

The sight of a large, lumbering horse pulling a plow through a rice field may seem like a time warp. Horses were once central to farming and transport, but have largely been replaced by trucks and tractors.

Plowing with horses(馬耕) is the old-fashioned techniques which use horses to cultivate rice field. We used this technique and pesticide-free rice, grown in the fertilized fields with the manure of grass-eating horses. Successive plowing with horses brings out the original essence of the soil, and the ensuing “Japanese Terroir” will carry the memory and taste of that soil into the future, ten years from now, a hundred years from now.

What Horses Do that Machines Can’t

Working with animals instead of machines means treading more gently on the earth and farming at a less frenetic, more traditional pace. “We live in a world where everything is the same, where everything goes fast,” Atsushi Kabasawa, owner of Tsunan sake brewery says.

01 Reduces the Pressure
Horses put less pressure on the ground than a tractor because their hooves are gentler than tires, Kabsawa says. That means there is less soil compaction, which is bad for soil health and speeds up erosion.
02 Improving Soil with Horse Manure
The horses till the fields with the people, they eat the local grass, and their manure returns to the soil as manure. The rice that is grown from this coming together of the land, the people, and the horses is the pesticide-free brewer’s rice variety called “Gohyakumangoku.”
03 Helping the environment
Energy savings and energy efficiency are key components of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Horses don’t require filling up with diesel, an increasingly valid concern as global stocks of fossil fuels diminish.

The Scent of Sustainable Sake

In the world of wine, they call the land that carries within it the greatest manifestation of its particular soil a “terroir.” Our land, nourished with mountain water, and plowed over and over with horses brings out the deepest essence of the soil, can proudly be described as a world-class “Japanese terroir”

“We put a lot of sweat and work into our sake brewing. It was time to close the circle.” said Takizawa, Toji of Tsunan sake brewery. “The idea of biodynamics is a full circle. ​​I like the combination of renewable energy and modern technical advance that goes beyond the old-fashioned plow, even though we still use one,” said Kabasawa.

What is Go Circular? ー how we’re designing more circular products
Making more circular products demands more than an extra step in the sake-making process. We are changing the way we develop our products.
Go Circular is a new approach that helps our product teams understand the impact of our decisions, make better choices and develop products that are fit for a circular beverage economy.We hope to use the Circulator to develop all our products by 2028.

More details be found at

About Tsunan Sake Brewery
Founded in 1996, Tsunan sake brewery is the maker of ethical sake.
Our mission is to achieve the new lifestyle, living with Sakagura.
For more information, including the products, visit Tsunan Sake Brewery

About Sanbarikisha
The only professional horse logger with full skill of Japanese traditional horse logging established the company to hand the disappearing culture and technics of Japanese horse logging and horse farming down to posterity. We grow sake rice in the rice paddies farming with horses, and make Sake from the organic rice.