The prosperity and power of the Fujiwara clan was unequaled but as it slowly
declined, the samurai class gained power. Consequently, the sake brewing
workshop of the Imperial Court, "Sakenotsukasa", lost its exclusive rights to sake brewing and the shrines with close relations to the governing authority also started to brew sake.
Around the same time, Tairano Kiyomori (the military commander in the last stage of the Heian Period) introduced the money economy, which spread rapidly through the trade between Japan and Sung. The sake brewed by the shrines started to appear as merchandise within the city.
As the Heishi (Taira family) was overthrown by the Genji (Minamoto family), Minamoto no Yoritomo (first general of the Kamakura shogunate) discarded the splendor of Kyoto and moved its political center to Kamakura. There, he ordered his warriors to live a life of simplicity, fortitude, hard work and civility.
Pre-war ceremony was simple as well. The warriors were offered ceremonial foods and sake for good luck, which were drunk from unglazed earthenware. The earthenware was smashed to signal the start of war.
Yoritomo, himself, loved drinking sake. He particularly looked forward to New Year's splendid banquet held by his retainers. The warriors during the Kamakura shogunate lived under the strict principle, which valued simplicity, even after Yoritomo's death. Nevertheless, there were incidents where drunkenness has caused warriors to lose control. Moreover, the ultimate punishment of being intoxicated was to be killed by the enemy during their sleep.
During the drought in Kencho 4 (the middle of the Kamakura era 1252), the shogunate issued "the ban of the trafficking of sake" and ordered all but one sake pot per household to be smashed. The total numbers of pots owned were counted as 37,274. From this incident, we can see how much sake was brewed for commercial use within the households.
In spite of the strict constraints enforced by the shogunate, the number of the
liquor shops steadily increased. By Ouei 32-33 (Muromachi Period, 1425 to 1426),
the sake brewery of 342 houses appeared in and around Kyoto.
Standing out from these shops was one with a willow in front of the gate. Located in "Gojyoboumon Nishinotoin (name of alley in the center of current Kyoto)", the shop was called "the liquor shop of Yanagi (willow)". Its famous "Yanagi sake" was regarded as the best in the country. So much so that its vintage sake was worth an extravagant amount just for a handful.