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The Engine of our Hometown

若水

Kuge Honten is located in Usuki City on the east coast of Oita Prefecture, on the southern island of Japan. Surrounded by the sea and magnificent mountains, Usuki benefits from a vast variety of succulent seafood, and delicious mountain vegetables.

 

In 1860, a famous feudal lord, Akimichi Inaba, gave the brewery to Genshiro Kuge and that is where the Kuge Honten story began.

 

Now, 161 years on, we at Kuge Honten pride ourselves on providing Sake of the highest quality. We use a variety of ingredients such as rice, barley, potatoes, plums, and Kabosu - a juicy citrus fruit similar to a lemon. Naturally, our Sake complements the local food, especially the white fish and Blue-backed fish, such as puffer fish, horse mackerel, mackerel, rockfish, stonefish, and kamagari.

 

Supporting our local community is very important to us and up until recently 90% of our agricultural produce was sourced locally. We continued to build on this and as of 2021 we source all our ingredients from within Oita (much of which is produced in Usuki City itself). We even buy local electricity from Usuki Energy.

 

Additionally, by working with our local farmers more closely, we develop better relationships. And this, along with looking after the environment, will contribute to the region’s prosperity.

 

We have chosen the slogan “The engine of our hometown” because our brewery is committed to supporting and promoting our region, in addition to positively contributing to society.

 

*This picture shows a kind of rice called ”Wakamizu” that is required for Sake brewing. Taken in Ieno, Usuki City.

Usuki’s Water

海添川

Usuki city is located on the south side of the Usuki -Yatsushiro tectonic line. And up until a couple of billion years ago remained under water.

 

About 3 billion years ago there was an enormous coral reef that formed a calcareous shell in the sea. Due to a crustal movement, it eventually detached from the ocean floor. The result - the formation of the Usuki mountain range, consisting of the remaining lime deposits.

 

When ground water passes through the limestone layer it becomes rich with calcium and bicarbonate ions. This water now has the “tasty water” properties we need. Kuge Honten then uses this water as preparation water, guaranteeing that our Sake will definitely be “tasty sake”.

 

*This picture shows a clear stream in the upper reaches of the river. Taken in Kaizoe, Usuki City.


Project - Make Usuki a “Creative City of Gastronomy”

 

In March 2021, Usuki City started a project to make Usuki a “Creative City of Gastronomy”.
Usuki has a strong food culture with many traditional customs, techniques, and recipes that have been passed down over generations. We want to use our unique brand to become a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy. Currently, Tsuruoka City in Yamagata is the only Japanese city to hold this position. Usuki City would like to become the second.

 

We at Kuge Honten feel that this project is reflects our own philosophy, and as “The engine of our hometown”, we want to fully support the project.

 

Recently Usuki City released some promotional videos. In the above video titled “The Road of Sake”, you can see Mr. Matsuno, the *Toji of Kuge Honten, passionately overseeing the sake production process.

 

*Toji - The head of a sake brewery, responsible for managing the complicated and delicate brewing process.

Our 11 Authentic “Usuki’s Local Produce” Branded Products

うすきの地もの

The advantageous topography of Usuki City contributes to the quality of our water. The rain falls on the mountains, filtering down through the forest, farmland, and finally into the ocean.

 

As we greatly benefit from these characteristics, it is our responsibility to protect the region, and be mindful of our own environmental impact. We contribute by participating in the “100 Year Forest and Water Cultivation Project”. This is a government run scheme that promotes organic agriculture, for example using “Usuki Dream Compost” that is produced locally at Usuki’s Cultivation Centre. In addition, we support our local fishery, based in the Bungo channel, with its plentiful supply of delicious, fresh fish.

 

We are able to take advantage of Usuki’s food and resources, made possible by the location’s unique terroir, to create authentic, 100% locally sourced and produced, specialty products under the Usuki brand, “Usuki’s Local Produce”.
We also want to spread the word about our locally produced products further afield and encourage tourism to the region.

 

*This picture shows the “Usuki’s Local Produce” Logo. Taken from the “Usuki City Notification vol.68” (September 19th, 2017).

 

Please find below the list of our own 11 authentic “Usuki’s Local Products” branded products.

 

@ Tokubetsu Junmai - Ichinoide (“Special Junmai”)
A Tokubetsu Junmai Muroka Namagensyu - USUKI (“Special Junmai”)
B Potato Shochu - Tsunezo
C Potato Shochu - Kanta-Kun
D Barley Shochu - Hogehoppo
E Plum Wine - Kabosu to Umesyu no Monogatari (“The Story of Kobosu and Plum Wine”)
F Plum Wine - Iyanbai Umesyu
G Fruit Liqueur - Kikabosu no Himitsu (“The Secret of Yellow Kobosu”)
H Fish pickled in sake lees - Kasuzuke Kamagari
I Fish pickled in sake lees - Cuttlefish
J Meat pickled in sake lees - Wild boar

The “Usuki’s Local Products” Sake Evening

うすきの地もの

In July 2018, we held a special sake evening to showcase some of the authentic products from the “Usuki’s Local Products” brand, at our Kuge Okura. We provided the 100 guests with 7 of these fantastic, locally created products, in addition to some of our award-winning sake. The party was a big hit with the guests!

 

It was a “potluck style” party, so guests were encouraged to bring something also. They participated enthusiastically, bringing a huge variety of high-quality food. With so much to choose from, everyone had a great time. We were delighted.

 

*Guests enjoying the sake evening (July 2018)


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