Okunomatsu Sake Tasting!

Okunomatsu Banner 2013

It’s been a over a year since we’ve done an Okunomatsu sake tasting, so it seemed like perfect timing when Mr. Tsushima approached us to do one this week Saturday. Mr. Takeshi Tsushima is the General Manager of Okunomatsu, and he’ll be on hand this Saturday to pour his wonderful sake and answer your questions.

We will be tasting a total of five different sake this Saturday, including a very special high end sake that we’ll be sampling for the first time in the shop. Juhachidai Ihei Shizuku Daiginjo is Okunomatsu’s super high end, multiple award winning, 35% milled Yamadanishiki rice, “drip pressed” sake! it even comes in a sleek wooden box … what more could you ask for?

Fukushima prefecture where Okunomatsu is located, along with all of the other prefectures in the Tohoku region of Japan experienced the effects of a devastating earthquake and tsunami back in 2011. Thankfully no one was hurt at Okunomatsu, but they did sustain heavy damage to their brewery, equipment and partially brewed sake at that time. While most of the sake breweries in the area have recovered since this terrible event, we always feel good about supporting the Tohoku region and their outstanding sake!

So join us this Saturday as Mr. Tsushima pours his delicious sake (especially the Ihei) and answers your questions.  Hope you can make it!

Saturday, November 16, 2013
5:00pm to 8:00pm

Here is the lineup for this Saturday.


Okunomatsu Juhachidai Ihei Daiginjo


This will be the first time we are tasting Ihei in the shop and we’re really looking forward to it. For those of you who haven’t heard of Ihei before, this is Okunomatsu’s super high end, award winning, 35% milled Yamadanishiki rice, “drip pressed” sake! It even comes in a sleek wooden box. An overall delicate flavor with fine lines of fruity lightness spreading nicely across the tongue in crisp waves, accented by a balanced fragrance. The recesses of flavor are clear and sharply defined.


Previous US National Appraisal gold medal winner and again in 2013, this wonderful sake is brewed with pure spring water from Mount Adatara and high quality rice grown in Fukushima prefecture.  This sake has a mellow aroma and flavor with a light clean finish. At our last Okunomatsu tasting a year ago it was the evening’s favorite.

Okunomatsu G2


At first people didn’t know what to make of G2, but in the past few years this sake has grown to become a fan favorite. Okunomatsu refers to this sake as a “New Age Ginjo” because of their unique method of adding ready made junmai ginjo sake to the mash just before pressing.  G2 means “Ginjo Sake times 2″ or “Double Ginjo”. Clear platinum color with aromas of Asian pear, hazelnut and melon.  A delicate round and soft entry leads to a fruity medium body of ripe pear and delicate spice.  Dry finish with a nice touch of creamy vanilla and rice candy. Goes great with food.


Junmai Ginjo

Previous gold medal winner and again in 2013, this medium bodied Ginjo sake has aromas of lychee and pear.  It drinks smooth with a well balanced mild fruitiness and a touch of citrus. Great price point for such a high quality flavor.

Tokubetsu Junmai

Another previous gold medal winner and again in 2013, this Tokubetsu Junmai has an interesting nose of flowers, moss and lemon.  It has a nice light acidity with a pleasant mild bitterness in the center and a dry finish.  Great with food as well.

So please join us this Saturday for our Okunomatsu Sake Tasting!  Meet Mr. Tsushima and try some of his wonderful sake.

Malcolm & Nadine Leong
The Sake Shop


Saturday, November 16, 2013
5:00 pm to 8:00 pm

Okunomatsu Workers
Okunomatsu Workers

Okunomatsu got it’s start way back in 1716 and is located in Nihonmatsu City in Fukushima Prefecture. Originally of Samurai descent, the family eventually became merchants, first selling canola oil and then shoyu (soy sauce), miso and sake.

They were proud of being a small brewery in Fukushima, and took their name from the area they were located in.  In the old days the city was referred to as “Oku-shu Nihonmatsu”. They took the first and last characters of  ”Oku” and “Matsu” and created Okunomatsu.

Rice Milling Room

Special Rice Milling Room
Okunomatsu strives to maintain the traditional methods of brewing while embracing modern technology when appropriate.  As an example, in order for the rice they use to be milled down to their exact specifications, Okunomatsu mills 100% of their rice in house.

To accomplish this they have constructed a special rice milling room with 14 vertical milling machines.  It takes two full days and nights to mill their rice down to 60% of it’s original size.

Okunmastu Workers

Making Mizu-Koji
To make their “moto” or starter mash, Okunomatsu uses yeast that has been living and growing in their brewery since long ago.

Water and koji (mold inoculated rice) are first mixed using a wooden pole creating “mizu-koji”.  Then lactic acid and yeast are added to continue the sake making process.

Okunomatsu Bottles

Okunomatsu Bottles
Okunomatsu is known for using beautiful custom made bottles for their sake. Closer in shape to a wine bottle, these bottles are also reusable and can be returned to the brewery for reuse or to be recycled.

Sake Brewery Tours

Our friends Etsuko Nakamura and John Gauntner are getting ready for a new round of sake brewery tours in Japan. In 2014 they plan to visit Okayama and Niigata prefectures.

We highly recommend their tours, and in 2014 you’re in for an addedBONUS! The Japan Sake and Shochu Maker’s Association will be generously providing a 50,000 Yen (about $500) subsidy toward the tour cost of each person! Don’t miss out on this awesome opportunity!

Etsuko and John

Etsuko Nakamura and John Gauntner
Sake Brewery Tours are 5-day excursions into the world of sake brewing, drinking, and enjoyment, featuring an exclusive seminar with sake expert and author, Mr. John Gauntner.
January 27 – January 31, 2014
(Monday – Friday)

Go off the beaten path to explore the rich art center and home of Omachi sake rice. In addition to immersing yourself in sake tradition by meeting the brewers, rice growers, and even plowing the rice fields yourself, this tour adds cultural experiences very rarely seen even by locals, provided in a personal private setting.

Enjoy a private performance of Kagura dance dedicated to a god. Witness the Shiki-Hocho knife ceremony once reserved only for Emperors and make your own guinomi sake cup with Bizen artists in their studios. You will also have time to explore the historic, artsy towns of Kurashiki and Katsuyama on your own.

On the last day, soak in an open-air bath by the river deep in the snowy mountains, far from the city.

Okayama Breweries:
Shiragiku, Chikurin, Kiwami Hijiri, Gozenshu

For more information visit

February 17 – February 21, 2014

(Monday – Friday)

Visit the leading sake producing region of Niigata and its rugged remote island, Sado. There are over 90 breweries in the prefecture, and you will have the opportunity to really get to know four brewers and the cultural heritage of each area.

Walk in the snow covered plains with the rice growers. Get a feel for the fertile rice fields during the summer and see the elegant swans and crested ibis at home during winter.

Taste the hospitality of traditional elite Niigata society with a special dinner and Geisha performance. Savor the praised Niigata rice at a farm. Discover how well sake pairs with French cuisine presented by one of the best chefs in Niigata. Experience salmon culture and unique tea culture in traditional machiya in Murakami.

On Sado Island, feel the distinctly different cultural heritage and taste sake style that breaks away from the style of the mainland. Pick up sticks and be a Kodo drummer yourself. On the last night on the island, soak in open-air onsen hot springs by the sea.

Niigata Breweries:
Imayo Tsukasa, Taiyo, Ichishima, Manotsuru

For more information visit

Tour Cost for both tours: 270,000 JPY per person/double occupancy. With 50,000 JPY support from Japan Sake and Shochu Makers Association, your cost is only 220,000 JPY.

* In 2014, the Japan Sake and Shochu Makers Association offers generous support to sake fans to experience Japan with Sake Brewery Tours. This is a one-time opportunity you cannot miss! 

The Sake Shop
1461 S. King Street
Honolulu, HI 96814
Ph (808) 947-7253
Fax (808) 947-7254
Twitter @sakeshop
Facebook The Sake Shop
Map: maps.google.com/maps

Metered parking available on King Street, Kaheka Street & Liona Street.  Pay lot located behind our building. $2 for 1/2 hour Monday – Friday until 6pm and Saturdays until 2pm.  All other hours $2 for 5 hours (paybox).  Enter from Liona Street.  Unfortunately we are unable to  validate parking.

Hours of Operation  
10am to 8pm Mon – Sat
10am to 5pm Sun