An award-winning sake brewery in the Tohoku region is eyeing a new approach to sake production that uses artificial intelligence to assist skilled workers.

Nanbu Bijin Co. in Ninohe, Iwate Prefecture, is developing an AI tool to find the best time to drain water in the steeping process for rice before it gets steamed. The company aims to see AI put in practical use in several years.

"We would like to develop AI to partner with our workers to help resolve the manpower shortage (at breweries in Japan)," said Nanbu Bijin President Kosuke Kuji, 46.