The young Toji and owner of this brewery, Hiro Inoue, believes it is very important that the brewery uses all things-local in the brewing process—including playing the music of a local musician to fermenting sake as it progresses through the brewing process. Local rice is used for each bottling, and is primarily Hitogokochi and Gohyakumangoku. The yeast strains utilized were isolated locally in Tochigi prefecture, and the brewers are all members of the community. Inoue believes that making sake should be fun and enjoyable—and his playful nature and joie de vivre is reflected in every sake he makes. His passion and skill earned his Sawahime Daiginjo the award of “best in the world” at the 2010 International Wine Challenge held in London.
As a commitment to his craft, the place, and the local style and best practices of brewing sake in the area, Inoue and two other brewers founded a Master Brewers School in the area, named Shimotsuke Toji. The declining number of Toji and the aging of the sake industry in Japan is of continuing concern for sake brewers and enthusiasts alike, so this allowed Inoue and fellow local Toji to help teach, mentor and pass on their enthusiasm for brewing sake on to the next generation.