LEARN ABOUT THE RICH HISTORY OF SAKE MAKING
Our Sake Museum provides a journey into the intricacies of sake-making. Learn how ancient brewery workers made this classic drink by getting an up-close look at the tools they used and the techniques they employed. Compare and contrast the old methods with the new, and you'll see how we have combined the foundational essence of each brewing step with the efficiency of modern-day technology.
Brewers have practiced sake-making for more than 2,000 years, and although the methods have transformed, the result is still the same — quality sake with a flavor unlike any other beverage. Introduce yourself to a landscape of rich culture and equally vibrant sake by taking a tour of our museum.
About Takara Sake
Takara Sake USA was created in 1983 with the mission of introducing the American public to Japanese culture through flavorful sake. Our company is a member of the Takara group, which is the leading corporation in biotechnology and alcohol in Japan. As a part of Takara's philosophy, we contribute to the creation of a vital society and a healthy lifestyle for our members through our fermentation technology and biotech.
We specialize in creating the highest quality Junmai sake within the industry. With a name meaning "pure rice," Junmai sake includes only the base ingredients for creation — rice, water, koji and yeast. In addition, we create other types of premium sake, such as Nigori, Junmai Ginjo and Junmai Daiginjo. From sweet to acidic or light to rich, our products come in a range of flavor profiles that fit perfectly alongside countless dishes.
We use pure snowmelt from the Sierra Nevada Mountains and superior rice from the fertile Sacramento Valley to brew our sake. By taking such detailed measures to maintain our quality, we're able to create versatile and well-loved products.
A Stroll of Discovery Across Time
The Sake Museum, which is directly adjoining from our Tasting Room, features a collection that is one of its kind in the U.S.A. Takara Sake USA Inc. has been acquiring and preserving a wide array of sake-making artifacts and tools from Japan over the years. Walk among the tools used by real Toji (brewmasters) and brewery workers from the early 20th century.
The museum exhibit includes an explanation of the traditional sake-making process as well as the history of sake-breweries in the United States. Immerse yourself in a world of sake, of simple beauty and extraordinary feat of engineering and innovation.
As one of the best museums in San Francisco, our Sake Museum offers an experience you won't find anywhere else. Everything in our gallery ranges from 1900 to 1940. Centuries-past methods of brewing sake were extensive and included many different tools, which you'll find in our exhibition. Each of these artifacts played a significant role in the step of brewing sake, which we will outline briefly:
Polishing: The Toji polished the rice grains to a specific ratio depending on what kind of sake they were making. Junmai sake has a polishing rate of 70%, while Daiginjo has a rate of 50%. The higher the polishing, the more labor-intensive the process is. This step removes proteins and fats and exposes more of the starch for a purer flavor.
Washing, steeping and steaming: The brewers would wash the rice by stomping it in buckets called fumioke. They would then soak it to accelerate the starch-to-glucose conversion. Afterward, they steamed the rice to make it less sticky and more suitable for sake-making.
Koji growing: The Toji allowed the rice to cool before mixing it with koji, the mold that encourages fermentation. This mold grew in wooden trays called kojibuta, which the workers would stack on top of each other. Mold growth produces heat, and to control the temperature, workers would rotate the kojibuta from top to bottom.
Mashing, filtering and pressing: They mixed koji rice, steamed rice and water in a wooden barrel called a hangiri to create a mash called moto. A dakidaru — or sealed water bucket — would warm the mixture, accelerating fermentation. The final paste, or moromi, would go out for filtering in cotton sacks and then head to a press called a sakafune.
Settling and pasteurizing: Toji would put the filtered, raw sake into a barrel to settle for 10 days, where it would then undergo pasteurization.
Aging and bottling: After letting the sake age in an airtight barrel, they bottled it and sent it out for shipping in containers called komodaru.
The Sake Museum will take you through this process in even more detail, with descriptions of every tool and artifact available for your learning. This self-guided museum is sure to satisfy both experts and the general public. Explore a wealth of eye-opening information at your leisure.
Our Sake Tasting Room
Once you've taken a look at the authentic tools used in sake brewing, come over to our Tasting Room to experience the flavors for yourself. Like our museum, virtually all the wood in our tasting room is reclaimed wood, and the granite floor tiles contain recycled glass from sake, beer and whiskey bottles. This tile design is inspired by Japanese rice paddies and reflects the name Takara, which means "treasure from the rice paddies." The architect, Don Hisaka, was a well-known and respected architect in the USA.
The tasting room features a hanging kinetic sculpture, "Song of the Sky," from artist Susumu Shingu. His artworks communicate the power, beauty and balance of nature — a perfect artistic choice that aligns with our company values. Takara consistently aims to achieve harmony with nature by using unparalleled brewing techniques and educating individuals about sustainable coexistence.
Start your tasting session with our $10 variety course featuring Flavored Sake, Plum Wine and more — or choose the Ginjo and Junmai combo course for $20. You can also opt for the $5 flight featuring Sho Chiku Bai Junmai Daiginjo and Shirakabegura Junmai Daiginjo. Your sake will be warm or chilled depending on the type. Varieties like Nigori and Ginjo serve better when chilled, while Junmai is the most versatile of all — taste it while it's chilled, room temperature or hot.
Different types of sake can fit into multiple temperature levels based on classifications done by 19th-century sake connoisseurs. Some of these levels include top warm, skin warm and very chilled.
Visit Our Brewery for a Memorable Tour
Visiting our brewery is one of the best things to do in San Francisco, whether you're searching for activities while on a trip or desiring a local adventure. Enjoy a glimpse of history inside our sake museum and savor refreshing flavors in our sophisticated tasting room. Sake experts and novices alike are welcome to partake in our drinks — you're sure to walk away with a new favorite beverage. Call us for more information, or head to our museum for an exciting journey through time.
17th-19th Century Sake Making
The polishing process after milling rice is important for producing different types of sake.
- 1 Tawara
- 2 Komebitsu
- 3 Ittomasu
- 4 Fumioke
- 5 Gonburi
- 6 Kakioke
- 7 Tsukeoke
After steaming for 50-60 minutes, the rice is removed from the Koshiki
- 8 Kama
- 9 Koshiki
- 10 Kyudai
- 11 Bunji
- 12 Mushitorigutsu
- 13 Meshidame
Rice is cooled and mixed with Koji. The Koji mold grows in wooden trays called Kojibuta. As the Koji mold grows, the process produces heat. In order to control the temperature of the Koji Rice, the Kojibuta are rotated from top to bottom.
- 14 Murodai
- 15 Kaiwari
- 16 Kojihiroge
- 17 Morimasu
- 18 Kojibuta
Koji Rice, steamed rice and water are mixed together. Mixing of the mash (Yamaoroshi) continues until the mixture reaches a paste-like consistency. The use of a sealed hot water bucket (Dakidaru) to warm the mixture accelerates the fermentation process.
- 19 Ninaibo
- 20 Ninaioke
- 21 Bokai
- 22 Motokai
- 23 Hangiri
- 24 Dakidaru
- 25 Motooke
Further mixing accelerates brewing. More steamed rice, Koji Rice and water are added. The final mash, with a high concentration of alcohol, is taken out for filtering.
- 26 Hanyaku
- 27 Kaburakai
- 28 Kamajaku
- 29 Terehangiri
- 30 Shikomi oke
- 31 Shamisen
Moromi is poured into long sacks made of heavy cotton cloth. THe press is called a Sakafune, meaning "sake boat."
- 32 Kitsune
- 33 Sakafune
After settling about 10 days, the sake is pasteurized at 65° - 70°C (149° - 158°F)
- 35 Oribikioke
- 36 Kaeru
The lid is sealed airtight for aging. After some time, the sake is ready to be shipped.
- 30 Shikomioke
- 37 Komodaru