Shiogama city, Miyagi prefecture.
Shiogama city has a fish market, famous having the greatest number of tuna fish catch in Japan, and the freshest seafood available all year round. Aihara Liquor Store was established when my grandmother was still among us, in 1955 (Year 30 of the Showa era), right in the middle of this vigorous port city.
In 2011, we suspended business temporarily to recover from the tsunami that hit the city. The old facility that carried our story was destroyed, but thanks to the support we received, we were able to resume business in a brand new store in 2014 (Year 26 of the Heisei era).
We are now carrying hundreds of products including sake from Shiogama breweries, as well as from breweries all over the Miyagi prefecture.
We hope you will find enjoy your tasting experience of delicious appetizers and sake in our home town.
Kentarou Aihara is the third-generation manager of the Aihara Liquor Store and took office at the age of 25 in the spring of 2005.
After retiring from the Ground Self-Defense Force, he actually first start to work as a mechanic in a car dealer before suddenly becoming store manager of a liquor store.
This can be seen as a jump into the local world of sake having a 2nd grade garage mechanic license, a large sized vehicle driving license, and some tools on the side.
Supermarkets and convenient stores reached their paroxysm of popularity at that time, which made the small retail liquor store he inherited to struggle. Kentarou’s parents actually first opposed him taking charge of the store, to an extent that his salary was established to \30,000 per month. After his wedding, a salary raise allowed his spending money to become \30,000 per month.
Local sake has a little firm image, but Aihara Liquor store welcomes every customer who wants to drink Japanese sake, even for first-timers. Kentarou Aihara himself was an average sake fan in the beginning and knew only little about alcohol before becoming the store manager. But as he says, it is important for the customers to enjoy selecting and buying the sake they will drink. He is also providing advices such as to put unpasteurized or premium sake in the fridge, and making recommendations on drinking temperatures, as sake can be enjoyed cooled, on the rocks, or lukewarm. Following the manager’s recommendations is just another way to deepen one’s fascination about the local sake.
Shiogama city has been prosperous for many years as it is a key point of the domestic maritime routes. Therefore, one of the three biggest ship festivals, the Shiogama Port Festival, is held here every summer.
There are two 300 years old sake breweries in Shiogama and they are both located near the Shiogama Shrine: Urakasumi (浦霞) and Abekan (阿部勘).
Shiogama city: the greatest number of tuna fish catch
The liquor store, established at the time of my grandmother.
The 300 years old breweries near the Shiogama Shrine.
Well selected local sake, including 「浦霞」Urakasumi and 「阿部勘」Abekan,
served under the perfect conditions.
New sake discoveries.
Enjoy your visit to the Aihara Liquor Store in Shiogama.
Our company was founded in 1724 when we first received a sake making licence. Since then we have been providing the sacred sake for the Shiogama Shrine, the most prestigious one in northern Japan with its history of more than 1,000 years.
Japanese sake is the fruit of a wonderful tradition that originated from our country's environment and its 2000 years of history. Moreover, its culture is still influencing deeply our daily lives.
Our motto: "A genuine sake brewed meticulously, delivered with professionalism" resumes well our method. The brewing process is made sincerely and with care to provide our customers the highest quality. They can then enjoy a sublime Japanese sake through its richness while experiencing its pleasant and comfortable feeling.
To maintain our reputation of a trusted brewery supported by its customers and its community, we will continue to devote ourselves to brewing the best quality sake and strive toward excellence.
Shiogama in the feudal period served not only as the gate-town of the Shiogama Shrine, for which the Sendai feudal lord, the Date Clan, showed a profound reverence, but also a gateway to Sendai Port. In addition to these regional advantages, the town developed significantly, thanks to other benefits including exemption from various taxes. The area is said to have boomed, with numerous inns and entertainment facilities standing side by side near the gate for the many travelers visiting the shrine. Amid such a historical background, in 1716 (the first year of the Kyoho era), it was said that our founder was granted a Sake brewing stock (an equivalent of a brewing license in modern times) by the command of the Date Clan (circa the era of the 4th Lord, Tsunamura Date and the 5th Lord, Yoshimura Date) and initiated sake brewing as the supplier of sacred sake to the Shiogama Shrine. Even now, we pray for the safety of our sake brewery and produce sacred sake for the Shiogama Shrine and the Shiwahiko Shrine. As the sake brewing season comes to an end, safe and sound, we provide the new sake as a votive offering to the shrines. Since a part of the land of our brewery was used for the local road expansion project in 1994, we constructed a new factory which is still in use. Our brewery has small-scale brewing preparation facilities and is not suitable for mass production. Therefore, we strive to produce our sake with a high-quality small-production approach in mind. Even with the changes of the brewery landscape and facilities over time, we share our brewing credo that has been passed down over the generations, throughout our history.
The above description of the two sake breweries of Shiogama demonstrates how sake brewing itself comes from ancient know-how.
It is a perpetual inheritance of tradition, born from the constant improvements of brewing skills over the ages.
Enjoy the expression of this history with every glass of sake.
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