Sake breweries are mostly dead quiet over the summer, and are just now getting into full swing as the chilly weather makes for more brewing-friendly conditions.

The kanzukuri (cold brewing) pattern of concentrating production in the coldest months of the year became mainstream in the Edo Period, and timely advances in agricultural techniques found farmers with their hands free at the same period, a coincidence that gave rise to the labor structure that supported the industry for centuries.

When I first started brewing (an alarming 17 years ago), it was still the Old Days. My colleagues were rice-farmers from the area in rural Hyogo Prefecture, who left their families after the autumn rice harvest to live and work the winter months of the brewing season wherever the master brewer — the leader of the team — took them.