For many, sake is the perfect accompaniment to a Japanese meal or an excellent way to celebrate, but for one family, it is more like a traditional art than a drink. For the family at Sudo Honke, the art of making sake, or nihonshu in Japanese, has been in the family for 870 years, spanning over 55 generation, making them the oldest sake brewing company in Japan.
In a recent visit to the brewery by YouTube channel Great Big Story, they spoke to the current owners of Sudo Honke, as well as Genuemon Sudo, about the impact of the earthquake back in 2011 and the nuclear meltdown that followed on the business. Located in Obara, Japan, the brewery is surrounded by a forest of towering trees, one dating back 900 years. These trees absorbed most of the initial impact of the earthquake, helping to prevent much damage from occurring at the brewery.
After the nuclear meltdown, many at the brewery feared that the water supply they used for the sake was contaminated which would have put an end to the centuries-old company. Luckily, after having the water analyzed, they found that the water was unaffected and they could continue their time-honored tradition.
For Gunuemon, it was always about more than just the company and brand itself. “Sake is rooted in our daily life in Japanese culture,” he says. “The aspects of our heritage are reflected in it…we don’t just want to sell sake, we also want to communicate to the world what’s good about Japanese culture.”
Check out more Great Big Story videos here.