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Masuichi-Ichimura Sake Brewery 807 Obuse, Nagano 381-0294 TEL: 026-247-2011 FAX: 026-247-6369
E-MAIL: info@masuichi.com
     
Masuichi Honten store, 1923
Bottles were not in common use at that time, the common method of shipment being kegs or porcelain containers of one to four to, a unit equal to 4.8 gallons or 18 liters. Retail sales were only by small sake vessel (tokuri) or containers brought in to be refilled by the customers themselves. Sake was measured out and sold on the premises. Transport consisted of handcarts or horse-drawn wagon. In heavy snow a large sleigh was employed.




Masuichi's "Sub-Brewery"
In spring, when the brewing process was completed, the wood barrels were taken out to the backyard to disinfect and dry in the sun. Standing several meters high, twenty to thirty of these barrels lined up was an impressive sight indeed, and, for kids, served as an awesome playground! At right, the "sub-brewery" in action.


     
 
Half-barrels and brewmasters
Lined up in the background are shallow half-barrels, tools used for purposes other than storing sake. Before the second world war, technical officials were known as technicians (gishi) but the men in lab coats at left were experts in brewing. They were deferentially called "master" by the brewers. This photo was shot in what now serves as the kitchen of The Club restaurant.


   
Takai Kohzan (1806-83)
A forerunner of Japan's modernization, Takai Kohzan was born in Obuse as Sankuro Ichimura, 12th heir to the house of Ichimura. He traveled to Kyoto and Edo, learning from Seigan Yanagawa, Ganku, Kaioku Nukina, and Issai Sato. Kohzan was a man of letters who excelled at Chinese poetry and calligraphy. He was especially famous for his Yokaizu drawings, pictures of demons and supernatural beings which wickedly parodied the inconsistencies of a turbulent period in Japanese history. He was also active in politics and education, and received many visitors, including the philosopher Sakuma Shozan, Kusaka Genzui, and the renowned woodblock artist Katsushika Hokusai, among others.
 
 
Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849)
Bishu Fujimigahara, from "Thirty-six views of Mt. Fuji"

Hokusai made numerous sketches of brewers, but among his drawings of barrel craftsmen, the Bishu Fujimigahara print from his famous series "Thirty-six views of Mt. Fuji" is most representative. According to researchers on the history of wood barrels, the tools and their portrayal in this hanga woodcut, as well as the materials and placement of items is highly realistic and of accurate proportion. This work truly reflects the artist's masterful grasp of perspective.