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Toko - Kojima Sohonten (1597)

Prestigious sake brewery in Yamagata

The prestigious Kojima Sohonten was founded in 1597, making it the 13th oldest sake brewery in the world and was also the purveyor to the Uesugi clan.

Nestled at the foot of Mt. Azuma and the source of the Mogami River, lays Kojima Sohonten. With the foundation of the brewery being before the arrival of the Uesugi clan, the history of the brewery is truly the history of the region. The name Toko is translated as Eastern Light. Built on the eastern side of Yonezawa castle, the founder of Kojima Sohonten would wake up every morning and pray to the sun and from there the name Toko was born. The brewery is located in the Yonezawa, surrounded by mountains on all sides, it is gifted with the perfect elements to brew sake, pure water, clean mountain air, ideal climate, and ideal soil. Each drop of the brewery’s sake contains a little bit of the rich tradition of Kojima Sohonten.

water source for production of Toko sake
 

Kojima Sohonten follows the lead of the 24th generation family owner, Kenichiro Kojima. Under his direction, the brewery has brought the soul of Yonezawa to the world stage. Under his supervision the brewery introduced its Ginjo Umeshu, the first umeshu to win all three national awards. As of October, 2020, Kojima Sohonten has become an all-junmai brewery. As a result, Kojima Sohonten is the largest all-junmai brewery in Yamagata. This change started ten years ago when the current president became instated. This change follows the Kojima’s dream of making his brewery more local and more sustainable.

award winning umeshu from toke sake brewery
sake production at toko brewery

The locals of Yonezawa affectionally call their city, “Yukiguni” or “Snow Country”. With an average annual snowfall of 6 meters, Kojima Sohonten is renowned for its slow brewing techniques. Brewing in low temperatures for longer periods, creates beautifully flowery sake. This paired with the brewery’s international award winning Fukurotsuri sake is an absolute delight on the senses..

rice farming for sake production

While some Kojima Sohonten’s most beloved brands are made with Yamadanishiki rice, the brewery puts great emphasis on using local Yamagata varietals such as Dewasansan, Dewa no sato, and Dewakirari. As such, the company founded the Yonezawa Sake Rice Society, in order to help rice farmers around region to continue to polish their craft. Many members of Kojima Sohonten are also seasonal workers; they farm rice in the summer, and brew sake in the winter.

Kojima Sohonten has a centuries old tradition of brewing premium sakes for Japanese connoisseurs, including the imperial family. Now, the name Toko, is equally recognized around world by fans and sommeliers alike.

Mere info Toko Sake

Popular Junmai sake made with table rice