The sake casks, which were loaded in Nada, crossed the roaring oceans to arrive
in Arakawa (present Arakawa, Chuo-ku, Tokyo) where the sake wholesalers in Edo
gathered. At the time, to go from Kyoto or Osaka towards the countryside was
described as to "Kudari (going down)". So simply, this sake was called "Kudari zake" and was much sought after even at an exorbitant price.
At that same time, Meiji's new government was established to replace the languishing shogunate system and the society underwent major changes. Due in part to deflation, the once prosperous Nada brewers were forced to suffer a stagnant period until Meiji 10 (1877).
Nevertheless, Nadazake popularity in the city of Tokyo (former Edo) never lost momentum. Sake, other than the ones from Nada, were called "Inakazake (rural sake)" or "Inaka (country)" in short, and was looked on as cheap, inferior sake.
Against the backdrop of this popularity, business recovered by Meiji 20 (1887). The sake business was better than ever. The yearly brewing quantity of Nada increased from 43.2 million liter in Meiji 18 (1885) to a staggering 61.2 million liter in Meiji 21 (1988).
Meiji 20's (1887-96) was not only the time of business recovery but also
epoch-making time where scientific analysis was brought into brewing for the
Brewer's associations appeared in various parts of the country and national conventions were held. The mood to improve the sake brewing technique gained momentum.
Taking advantage of this, in Meiji 37 (1904), National Research Institute of Brewing was established in Takinogawa, Ouji-ku, Tokyo. Brewing Society of Japan was also established as an annex for research associations of technical experts. Therefore, the research of sake brewing made remarkable progress.
As we all know, the methods of traditional sake brewing only relied on experiences handed down from generation to generation. The methods of sake brewing in these days, in general, was to combine steamed rice, rice malt and water, to allow the rice malt to convert the starch within the rice malt into glucose, then, the glucose mixes with natural occurring yeast fungus and lactobacillus existing in the air, producing alcohol.
But until the middle of Meiji, even sake experts did not know the existence of yeast fungus. They presumed that as rice malt saccharizes in the main mash, it converted into a substance which ferments the mash into alcohol.
Only Meiji 28 (1895), they discovered the existence of yeast through scientific analysis.
Now, how did sake taste in Meiji Period? According to recorded documents, the
sake was extremely dry (sake meter value +15) from Meiji 22 (1889) through to 30
(1897). Thereafter, it was over +10 until Taisyo Period. People often say that
"people loved dry sake in peaceful times but they loved sweetish sake in troubled time", in other words, the preferred taste of sake was consistent with the recovering business climate.