wada sake brewery
Experience the traditional sake making process at the Wada family brewery in Yamagata, where they have been handcrafting sake since 1797 using locally grown Kairo-shinko rice and prized local water. Explore the generational traditions passed down by the Wada women, and be enchanted by the warmth of Japanese hospitality as they share stories about their lives, weddings, and the iconic wedding kimono worn by three generations.
I wanted to visit a traditional sake brewery while I was in Yamagata, so I stopped in to see the Wada family. Their ancestors have been making sake here since 1797. They handcraft a small batch every winter -- only in the winter. Most of it is sold locally, but what does get shipped south to Tokyo wins awards as some of the best sake in Japan. A yeasty smell hit me as I entered the brewery. Mrs. Wada, the 30-something daughter of the 8th generation sake maker, walked me through the brewery. She explained that everything here is done traditionally, by hand. The Wadas make sake in the winter to prevent contamination, like in the old days. They use the prized local water and locally grown Kairo-shinko rice. I watched the whole process.
But then the talk turned to something more than sake in this 200 year old building. I was invited to a tatami room for tea with Mrs. Wada and her mother. Another woman joined us, too -- Mrs. Wada's 89-year-old grandmother, a spirited lady who couldn't hear but answered questions Mrs. Wada wrote on an etch-a-sketch. The three generations of Wada women told me about passing down sake making-traditions. But soon they were telling me more -- about their lives and their weddings. They brought out three generations of wedding photos. They all wore the same kimono at their weddings, a kimono that had been handed down through the years. Mrs. Wada's mother left the room -- and returned with the actual kimono, which she carefully unwrapped to show me. A quiet moment with these wonderful, warm people, a moment that reminded me why I love Japan.