• Jiji


A sake brewery in Shizuoka Prefecture has re-created a sake beloved by feudal warlords including the founder of the Tokugawa shogunate launched in the early 17th century.

The Bandai Jozo brewery in the city of Izu has developed Egawashu, a fruity and sweet sake brewed using techniques from over 320 years ago.

“I didn’t expect to make such a tasty sake,” said Shizuo Ina, 74, chief brewer at Bandai Jozo. “I hope people will enjoy it feeling as if they were (Tokugawa shogunate founder) Tokugawa Ieyasu.”

Egawashu was passed down in the Egawa family, a prestigious family dating back to the Heian Period (794-1185). Egawa family members served as daikan local governors in Nirayama, now the city of Izunokuni, Shizuoka, for generations.

The drink was named by Hojo Soun, the first head of the later Hojo clan, and enjoyed by many warlords including Oda Nobunaga, according to Takayuki Hashimoto, 68, curator at Egawa Bunko, a foundation that manages the Egawa Residence, a national important cultural property, and the national historical site of the former Nirayama daikan office.

Egawashu was even served at a massive cherry blossom-viewing party held in Kyoto in 1598 by warlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi after he reunified Japan.

But the production of Egawashu stopped in 1698 with the daikan system reforms.

The long-lost drink was revived after Hashimoto discovered in May last year a document listing the production steps for Egawashu among more than 100,000 historical materials at the Egawa Residence.

He spent some three months translating it into modern-day Japanese and brought it to Bandai Jozo.

“I really couldn’t tell what kind of sake would be produced just by reading it,” Ina said.

The document had no information on how sweet or sour the drink would be, so the brewer had to create the drink to find out.

The brewery began making the drink in January this year, and it was ready in late February.

“Unlike the sake we are used to, it has a sweetness much like mikan mandarin orange juice,” Hashimoto said.

Bandai Jozo is aiming to release it commercially after stabilizing the drink’s taste.

For now, the beverage will be given as a gift to those who pitched in money for a group dedicated to publicizing the works of Egawa Hidetatsu, a local daikan from around the 1868 end of the Tokugawa shogunate who built the Nirayama Reverberatory Furnaces, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The group is managed by nonprofit organization Izugaku Kenkyukai.

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