Enjoying the Sake world through a fusion of the drink itself and the culture in which it is immersed

Founding objective

The KIKUSUI Sake Culture Institute was established in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the inauguration of KIKUSUI SAKE Co., LTD. in 2006. Founded over 130 years ago KIKUSUI had been a small family run company until this.

Since ancient times, Sake has played an important role in religious ceremonies and Japanese culture. It has served as a companion, sharing our delight, anger, sorrow and pleasure. It serves to partner to our meals to enhance the food it is served with, and be enhanced itself by the food.

Over time, brewing techniques have evolved and in today’s world of mass production it can be hard to discern which is better in terms of quality. It is here that KIKUSUI decided to take a step back, and rather than consider this as a brewer might, we try to consider this from the view of the consumer. The answer lies not only in the Sake itself but in the enjoyment that can be derived from it. The primary objective behind the establishment of the KIKUSUI Sake Culture Institute is to promote enjoyable ideas to add more excitement to the Japanese Sake world.

The underlying theme behind the KIKUSUI Sake Culture Institute is the organic coexistence with nature

Facility Overview

The KIKUSUI Sake Culture Institute has a unique design and construction. The building, hidden away in green woodlands, deliberately comprises of only one storey above ground. The remainder of the facility is underground. Seen from afar, its existence often goes unnoticed. This is just one small consideration we made to avoid damaging the surrounding scenery as much as possible.

KIKUSUI Sake Culture Institute is hidden away amongst the trees.

Utmost care has been taken to protect the environment which we feel blessed by. All materials used in the construction of the building can be traced back to where they were produced to ensure they had no adverse affect on human health or the environment. As a result of this attention to detail, the micro-brewery set up within this facility, the Setsugoro Brewery, achieved the feat of becoming Japan’s first certified organic brewing space.

Mastering old techniques while challenging new frontiers

Functions of the KIKUSUI Sake Culture Institute

The KIKUSUI Sake Culture Institute has five general functions. The first of these is research and development. In order to promote creative research and development we established a Sake cultural data and materials archive. This archive is divided into a library corner, holding specialist literature in a broad range of fields ranging from liberal arts to science, and a corner dedicated to the collection and research of items relating to Sake and food culture. There are over 30,000 publications and 30,000 items in the library and exhibition areas reaching back through hundreds of years of Japanese culture. The facility also boasts a state-of-the-art experimentation facility where full time staff can work together with independent research institutions in the pursuit of new techniques.

The second is production. Within the walls of the KIKUSUI Sake Culture Institute is a micro-brewery, the Setsugoro Brewery, named after our founder. This micro-brewery makes it possible for us to take up the challenge of developing new brewing techniques, based on research done in the institute, as well as brewing the labor intensive Dai-Ginjo Sakes.

The third is as a training facility to nurture master brewers. The Setsugoro Brewery employs no automated equipment. As a result, all the brewing done within this facility relies on the ability of the brewer, working with just their own two hands learning from experience. Our goal is to train master brewers in the art of brewing with traditional means and equipment. This will help ensure that the traditional art of Sake brewing is passed on to future generations.

The fourth function is a communication function. The institute employs full-time staff working in conjunction with external groups, to gather together and categorize data obtained through a variety of research, development and brewing activities and making this available on the Web and through various publications.

Last but not least is the interactive function. The KIKUSUI Sake Culture Institute serves as a space to stage various events, to bring people together and promote interaction with the community. This enables us to pass information about the Sake world to the wider public.

Library corner

Exhibition corner

Setsugoro Micro-Brewery

Setsugoro Micro-Brewery / Koji room

KIKUSUI Sake Culture Institute

Address: 750, Shimagata, Shibata-shi, Niigata-ken,
957-0011(KIKUSUI Brewery)