Nara-ryu (Nara style sake making) (奈良流)

Nara-ryu is one of the styles of Japanese sake-brewing. Having followed firsthand the tradition and techniques of soboshu (僧坊酒: sake brewed in large temples) brewing, Nara-ryu became the origin of various sake-brewing schools which developed in the Edo period.


Soboshu made in the large temples located in the Provinces of Yamato and Kawachi was the predominant kind of sake in the medieval Japan.
However, the power of those temples declined greatly in the Warring States period by the attack of various warlords including Nobunaga ODA
At the same time, the sake brewing facilities having been evolved in those temples were destroyed and the sake brewing techniques also developed there were scattered. It was the breweries in Nara who inherited these techniques directly, and their style of sake-making is called Nara-ryu.

Nara style sake brewing is the origin of all the sake brewing schools including Sessen-juni-go (the twelve sake brewing districts in the provinces of Settsu and Izumi) where Kudari-zake (sake shipped from Kyoto and Osaka to Edo) was produced in the Edo period such as Itami-zake (sake brewed in the present Itami City, Hyogo Prefecture), Konoike-style, Kohama-style and Ikeda-style, and Nada-gogo (the five sake-producing areas in the present cities of Nishinomiya and Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture) which prospered in the later Edo period based on the technological innovation.

Nara-ryu itself, however, did not commercially succeed because Itami-zake came to be produced in a large volume through the development of mass production technology and also because Nara was located inconveniently to Edo, the then greatest market for sake.

Brewing process

While dangake (to have the fermenting mix of 'steamed rice, koji [rice cultivated with a mold, usually aspergillus oryzae] and water' added with more steamed rice, koji and water in batches) is usually conducted three times (i.e. adding rice, koji and water mix in three batches) in the current sake brewing process, it is said that Nara-ryu involved dangake of four to five times.

Sake koji occupied 60% both in moto (the basic mix of steamed rice, koji and water) and in soe (additional batches of steamed rice, koji and water in dangake process). Adopting a low temperature process, Nara-ryu produced dry sake.

[Original Japanese]