Tokun Syuzou

Sawara is a historic town, where the prestigious Katori shrine is located. It is also a well-known water village blessed with rich natural resources. Sawara is closely connected with Tone river (also known as Bando Taro), and from ancient times to the middle ages, the area around Sawara was referred to as “The Sea of Katori,” which sourced the river systems of Kasumigaura, Kitaura, and Kinu River. In conjunction with the Kashima shrine, the Katori shrine figured prominently in the area and thrived on interactions with Kyoto, the political and cultural capital of Japan at the time, and the more advanced areas throughout Japan.

For the sake of protecting the Edo capital from flooding, promoting water transportation, and increasing annual rice tax by developing rice fields, the Tokugawa Shogunate began construction in 1645 to change the course of the Tone River to flow from its mouth in Choshi to the Pacific Ocean (moving the capital east of the Tone River).
Ships travelled up the Tone River and down the Edo River carrying annual rice tax, goods and commodities from Tohoku to the Kanto area. The area thrived with increased movement of goods and people, which is illustrated in the saying,”If you want to see Edo culture come and visit Sawara for Sawara Honmachi is much livelier than Edo.”

Up until the early Showa period (1926 to 1945), ship transport was extremely active, and ships and cargo filled the river, while shipping agents, steamship companies, hotels, rice fertilizer merchants, vegetable shops, confectionery and tobacco shops, fish shops, liquor shops, and soy sauce manufacturing plants stood in a row along the river shore. Most houses had a docking area called “dashi,” which was bustling day and night with people getting on and off the ships.
Soy sauce manufacturing was also booming at the time, and in 1839, there were 14 soy sauce breweries in the area, which has dwindled down today to just one manufacturer called “Shojo Soy Sauce,” which produces soy sauce under contract in a different location.

Sawara is a well-known water village, where river fishing has been a central part of life, and the fertile land yields agricultural products such as rice, vegetables, peanuts, and Japanese apple pears. Gourd, cucumbers, ginger, small eggplants and other vegetables pickled using high quality sake, sweet sake, and flavored with sake lees, as well as local specialties made with river fish are sold in local shops as flavors representing Sawara.

Sake Brewery
ideal conditions
In the early Edo period (1661 to 1673), Ino Saburouemon (ancestor of the Ino family) bought 70 koku (1 koku is equivalent to about 278.3 liters of sake) of sake stock from Ushibori Hachiro in Hitachi (Ibaraki Prefecture), and began sake production.
In the mid-Edo period (1787), there were 35 breweries in one village, which earned the rare name “Kanto’s Nada” (The Nada area around Kobe was known as Japan’s sake mecca).
At that time, the largest was the Nagasawa Jirouemon Brewery (1675 koku), followed by the Ino Saburouemon Brewery(1480 koku), so there were two breweries owning more than 1,000 koku of sake stock. (Both breweries transferred their sake stock to another brewery in 1826)
Currently, Tokun Sake Brewery and Baba Honten Brewery located along Katori Street are the only two remaining breweries.

Tokun Sake Brewery was established in Shimousa Sawara in 1825 when Edo culture was prospering.
Ino Tadataka is a legendary figure known for completing the first map of Japan. The Ino family, as was mentioned above, was the well-known owner of a sake brewing business in Sawara. The founder of Tokun Sake Brewery is said to have apprenticed under the Ino family, and from them learned about the sake trade and worked to expand the business.
Under the ideal conditions for sake brewing in Sawara, including convenient ship transport along the Tone River and early yield of quality rice, Tokun Sake Brewery Co., Ltd. has proudly carried on the history and tradition of sake brewing for 190 years.

During the period between 1624 and 1643, one brewery was established, and between 1688 and 1703, three were established. There were no breweries established during the following 100 year period, but there was a sudden increase in the number of breweries established from 1854.
In 1688 to 1703, the Tokugawa Shogunate administered the sake dealer tax system (alcohol tax system), marking the start of sake production as a business.
In 1900, there were 237 sake companies
In 1935, there were 124 sake companies
In 1945, there were 66 sake companies
Presently, there are 40 companies that are members of the association.

Please see the Chiba Prefecture Sake Brewers Association for details.

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