Sake is made through one of the world’s most complex processes. Therefore, with the increase in the scale of Sake industry since the Edo Period, job divisions and hierarchies were adopted at Sake breweries, which are still present in today’s Sake industry.
吉乃川酒造見学 / Norio.NAKAYAMA
What is ‘Sake Brewery’ in Japanese?
Sake Brewery is called Saka-gura (酒蔵). People working at Saka-gura, or Sake brewery in general are called Kura-bito (蔵人).
Each of Kura-bito, or brewery workers are named differently, depending on their position in the Sake brewery’s hierarchy.
1. Kuramoto (蔵元): Owner of Sake Brewery
The owner of a Sake brewery is called Kuramoto. He is in charge of management of the brewery, such as managing capital, facilities, machinery and raw materials, promotion (e.g. advertising and public relation), sales and branding. The most important of all these duties is clarifying what kind of Sake they will make. If this policy was ambiguous, the production manager of the brewery, or Toji (杜氏) – who we will explain next- would not be clear about what he should value in the production stage.
2. Toji (杜氏): Production Manager
If a Sake brewery were to be a soccer club, Kuramoto is the club owner, and Toji is the team coach. Toji supervises all the production stages at the Sake brewery. Not only is he required to be well versed with all the production stages, but also he must possess excellent leadership, decision making skills and management skills.
3. Kashira (頭): Production Manager Assistant
Kashira literally means ‘head’. He receives instructions from Touji and convey them to each worker. He is also in charge of supervising water prepared for brewing.
4. Kouji-Ya (麹屋): Koji Division Chief
Literally meaning Kouji person, this position supervises the division of Koji (a type of mold) making.
5. Moto-Ya (酛屋): Shubo Division Chief
sake brewery / isado
This position involves supervising the Shubo making. Shubo is a mixture of Koji, steamed rice, yeasts, water and lactic acid. This mixture will be fermented in the next process to become Sake.
6. Kama-Ya (窯屋): Rice-washing / Rice-steaming Division Chief
7. Sentou (船頭): Pressing Division Chief
IMG_1176 / hslo
Upon completion of fermentation, the Sake mixture goes through a pressing machine to squeeze out Sake, removing the Sake lees. Sentou literally means ‘Ship captain,’ this is because the traditional pressing equipment is called Fune (槽), which means ‘ship’.
8. Sumi-Ya (炭屋): Filtering Division Chief
9. Do-gu Mawashi (道具廻): Equipment Caretaker