Miyakehonten, Co., Ltd., which is renowned for its sake brand Sempuku, is located in Kure (Hiroshima Prefecture), a city which once served as a Japanese navy base.
The company was established in 1856 under the name of Kawachiya, initially specializing in the production of mirin(sweet sake for cooking), shochu (Japanese distilled liquor), and shirozake (sweet white sake) products. In 1902, the company started in the sake brewing business.
Early in the Taisho period (1912 – 1926), Asama, a flagship of the training fleets of the then Japanese Imperial Navy, sailed for about 220 days, and it was loaded with the company’s Kuretsuru sake products. Although Asama crossed the equator several times during the long navigation, no deterioration in quality and taste was found in Kuretsuru sake. In recognition of its quality and hardiness, it received quality certification by the Asama. Subsequently, Sempuku products began to be delivered to all navy bases located across Japan, enabling the company to rapidly expand its sales channels throughout the country. By early in the Showa period (1926 – 1989), the company had developed into a leading sake brewer in the country.
During the Second World War, in 1945, almost all brewing facilities and properties of the company were burned to the ground in an air attack. Also losing overseas assets at the end of the war, the company was compelled to rebuild from nothing. After having been involved in business activities other than sake brewing as a temporal measure to survive and build up strength for restoration in postwar years, the company rapidly accelerated the introduction of machinery into its sake brewing processes. As a result of its steady efforts, the company succeeded in launching the paper-packed refined sake series “Fukupack” and the pure sake product series “Namazake,” which entered the market in 1980 and 1982, respectively.
Sempuku sake products were initially brewed at five breweries operated by the company. Currently two breweries, namely “Gohou-gura” and “Azuma-gura,” are competing with each other to brew different kinds of Sempuku. The Azuma-gura brewery mainly produces most of the affordable Sempuku sake products for mass consumption. These products have enjoyed long-lasting popularity, helped by a local, and well known, musical TV commercial, “Sempuku ippai ikagadesu? (“How about tasting a cup of Sempuku?”), words by the songwriter Hachiro Sato. On the other hand, the Gohou-gura brewery focuses on the brewing of ginjo-shu products. With a strong belief that it is essential for higher quality sake brewing to successfully grow “Shinriki” rice (an extremely rare kind of local rice, used as a main ingredient of sake in the Meiji and Taisho periods) and to employ a traditional brewing technique called kimoto-zukuri to produce sake made from the “Shinriki” rice, workers at the Gohou-gura brewery are committed to brewing Sempuku junmai-shu and ginjo-shu products. The Shinriki Kimoto Junmai Muroka Gensyu sake is a result of such workers’ proud efforts and repeated trial and error processes.
In its very first appearance at a competition, the Shinriki Kimoto Junmai Muroka Gensyu won the Gold Medal in the best hot sake category at the Slow Food Japan Hot Sake Contest 2012.
Since its establishment, Miyakehonten Co., Ltd. has faithfully preserved its company philosophy of “Harmonious union and whole-hearted devotion” from generation to generation. Based on this philosophy, and with the spirit of wa (harmonization) as a basic concept, the company is determined to continue taking on new challenges, striving to bring about sen-no-fuku (Sempuku, meaning “one-thousand good fortunes”) to those who enjoy Sempuku sake.
Les grands sakes de Hiroshima