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The history of Shirayuki is actually the history of Japan itself. Indeed Shirayuki is Japan's premier Sake with a legendary flavour that has 460 years of history embedded in it.

ine 1. The Dawn of the Japanese Civilization (Jomon-Yayoi Periods). Our ancestors obviously thought that no harvest festival would be perfect without Sake. It was considered so special that they offered it to their gods when they celebrated bumper crops.

2. What kind of Sake did they appreciate in those days? "Home brew," naturally. Apparently it looked murky and tasted sour, but its overall quality was superb.

300 AD


yamato 3. During the Yamato Period (when civilian dictatorship was established in the Nara Area), the government bureaucrats installed the Department of Sake! (What would it be like if the present day government decided to establish the same today? )

800 AD
heian 4. During the Heian Period (800-1000 AD) the Aristocrats loved parties, romance and above all Sake. Funds for this life style came from heavy taxes on their peasant farmers.

Shinto Priests 5. Shinto Priests also brewed Sake for their religious festivals, and soon brewed it for themselves, calling it "Priestly Sake (Soubou shu)."

1000 AD

war 6. During Kamakura-Muromachi Periods (1100-1500 AD) warriors joined the crowds enjoying the Sake. Enterprising merchants made the most of the trend and marketed for huge profits in Kyoto.


  1500 AD

7. In 1550, the Konishi family (founder,Shinuemon Sohgo) started making Sake on the side whilst selling medicine.

azuchi momoyama era

Tunodaru 8. The Konishi family invented the "horn cask" as a handy carrying vessel.

9. Legend has it that the "home brew" turned crystal clear when ashes were accidentally dropped into the murky brew. "Sumi Sake" was the result of this fluke!

sumi Sake

10. Morohaku - the best tasting and aromatic "clear Sake" in those days was brewed from malted rice, kakemai, and polished rice.

Hurrah Brewery

11. Encouraged by his success with "clear Sake" Sohgo built the family's first brewery called "BANZAI GURA" (GURA meaning brew house) in 1583. Believe it or not, it is still in use today!


12. Hideyoshi Toyotomi - the first prominent unifier of the country's warring states - loved the Sake made in Itami so much that he is alleged to have ordered this area to be kept free of the flames of war.



13. 1600 AD Iyeyasu Tokugawa - the third and most successful unifier of Japan - transferred the military regime to Edo (Tokyo), which soon flourished as the administrative center of the country.

14. Itami based Sake was planned to enter the market in Edo. The credit for this scheme should go to Shohan Yamanaka who had been brewing Sake in a small village in Itami. He decided to take the bold step of expanding the market into the new Capital of Japan. His Sake sold like hot cakes amongst the samurai who had been fed up with the poor quality Sake sold in Edo.

Sohtaku 15. Shirayuki - how did the name come about? It is said that Sohtaku, the second heir in the Konishi family, happened to see the snow-capped Mt. Fuji on his way to Edo to deliver his Sake. He was so deeply moved by the view that he decided to name his Sake Shirayuki (Snow White).

Basho 16. Sohha - the fourth heir to Konishi family, was reputedly a talented poet and maintained close contact with some of the country's most prominent poets and novelists including Bashoh Matsuo and Monzaemom Chikamatsu, both of whom loved Sake.

17. Komom Mito, one of the most respected lords and administrative advisors to the shohgun (Military Dictator) in Edo, was also very fond of the Sake produced by the family.

Brew Sake in winter 18. The Sake produced west of the Capital was so popular in Edo that it constituted 80% of the consumed liquor! The Sake delivered from the Osaka region was called "kudari Sake" meaning "Sake descended from Osaka." This high level of Sake consumption had a lot to do with the Tokugawa Regime's Policy to designate this area for Sake producing.

19. Up until the mid-Edo Era,Sake had been produced throughout the year. However it was discovered that Sake brewed during winter tasted the best so all Sake makers decided to brew Sake only during the winter months.

20. In order to ship the tremendous volume of Sake to Edo, the Konishi family needed big cargo vessels, so they launched a shipping trade.


21. In 1694 the family formed a wholesale Sake trading company in Kayabacho, in Edo, so that they could sell Sake produced by other Sake makers as well.


22. From 1765 to 1779, the family started brewing Sake at Nishinomiya, Nada, in an effort to facilitate their shipping activity and step up the productivity level.

tarukaisen 23. Furthermore,the need for expeditious delivery of expeditious delivery of Sake compelled the family to use cargo vessels called "Tarukaisen" or barrel vessel. Thanks to the new vessels, shipping to Edo would take less than a week! In some districts "Tarukaisen" is still used as a brand name for Shirayuki.



24. The discovery in 1840 of "Miyamizu" (mineral free pure underground water) by a Sake maker named Tazaemon Yamamura, had a tremendous impact on the quality of Shirayuki.

Rai Sanyo 25. The 9th heir to the Konishi family was on friendly terms with Raisanyo, a noted historian, painter and poet in Japan. The latter became such an admirer of Shirayuki that he even composed a poem for the Sake called "Eternal joy and fragrance of the Lotus flower," which appears on the label that we use today.

Kendo 26. The Konishi family were able to gauge the social trends very accurately, and used abrupt changes to their own advantage. During the 18th century the family entered the railway and banking businesses.
doctor They were great philanthropists as well and immediately after the Meiji Restoration (1868) the family established a Kendo school to rescue impoverished samurai, a primary school, and constructed the first medical clinic in the area.

27. Sake played a significant role in bringing the best out of the pre-Meiji political heroes such as Shinsaku Takasugi and Ryoma Sakamoto, when they discussed the need for drastic political transformation in the face of the European challenge.


28. "Ginjoshu" - high quality Sake made from rice polished 60% or less and fermented at a low temperature - became so popular amongst consumers that every Sake brewer competed for quality.


Bokusui 29. Sake has always been adored and appreciated among Japan's foremost poets and artists. Bokusui Wakayama, one of the nation's eminent romantic poets during the Meiji Period, was no exception in extolling the virtues of Shirayuki. Indeed, out of 7,000 poems 200 make reference to Sake, one of which goes like this "Japan produces Sake aplenty, but none as palatable as Shirayuki."


30. It was during the Meiji Era that the 1,800ml bottle of Sake came into use. The bottle is still used today.


enamelled cask 31. In 1933, the Konishi family grew into a proprietary company.

32. The enamelled cask replaced the traditional cedar cask for storing Sake - another triumph of technological innovation for the Konishi family.

brewery at Mt.Fuji 33. In 1963, the Konishi Brewing Company built a highly productive brewery named "NO.2 FUJIYAMA GURA" - the first Japanese Sake plant capable of making Sake all the year round!

rice polishing mill 34. In 1967, Asia's greatest rice polishing mill was constructed at Itami.

rice polishing mill 35. A Sake drinker can now drink Sake anywhere and anytime, thanks to innovations in Sake containers.

36. "Just squeezed Sake" - Sake that has not quite natured whilst retaining a fresh taste - has become very popular among the Japanese drinkers.

37. "Bottle Top Twisters" were invented for the convenience of their Sake drinkers.

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