Brewing sake is part science, part labour of love. Any brewer will tell you that. What they won’t tell you, is how they do it. Except Mr Niizawa. His fervent belief in openness is at odds with the strict secrecy with which a Toji normally regards their products. That’s not to say he takes any less care. He encourages everyone at the brewery to blind taste, while he also practices every day, each time tasting exactly 4ml of sake. It’s tough being so exact... But it’s what he’s used to. This is more than his job, it’s his life.
An unexpectedly tragic turn came in 2011. His brewery was gravely affected by the earthquake that caused so much destruction in this part of Japan. Breweries from across the country helped rebuild Niizawa following the earthquake and the brewery is now situated on higher ground, where the bedrock is more solid. It’s a topic that draws a lot of emotion from the normally reserved Mr Niizawa as he describes the way the foundations shook that day. Today, the brewery stands tall. A reminder of the struggles of the past and Mr Niizawa’s optimism for the future.