On July 29, Iwao Niizawa, the fifth-generation president of Niizawa Jozoten in Miyagi Prefecture, was one of six brewers to claim prizes at the 2016 Sake Competition awards ceremony that took place at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Tokyo. His Atago no Matsu Tokubetsu Junmai topped the list in the contest's junmai-shu division, which covers sake made without the addition of distilled alcohol.

Niizawa, whose brewery was destroyed in the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, expressed heartfelt words of appreciation as he accepted his award.

"We were in danger of going out of business, but thanks to the support of so many people, we were able to continue brewing. I have never forgotten my sense of gratitude, and I feel like this is an acknowledgement of the hard work we put into making sake," he said.