Shochu Distilleries in Kagoshima

November 2, 2015

The thing I love about wine is that it acknowledges its part in tourism and almost all wineries in Australia have cellar doors catering for tourists and fans coming for a taste.  In Japan, the culture is a bit different and especially for sake, cellar door tastings and tours are not so popular.  Maybe this is due to the generation old secrecy of the techniques and the Japanese culture of not inquiring too deeply and just respecting the product.  However for Shochu, there are a number of distilleries that do tastings and factory tours.

There are so many shochu brands and manufacturers and to be honest, all undergo the basic production of koji fermentation of sweet potato (or other main ingredient) and through to distilling so I don’t have any that I particularly dislike. Difference lies in the subtle aromas or the after note being sharp or lingering, the palate being mild or dry etc.  It’s all up to personal preference.

1. Kojika

When asked for a favourite, I would say Kojika, just because I have fond memories of travelling all around Kyushu when I was 21, stopped by the Kanoya area befriended a local young man at the pachinko shop and ended up being invited over to stay at his house for the night. Such is the climate of rural Kagoshima.  Welcoming and relaxed.  His pick of drinks for the night was Kojika.  The taste of Kojika reminds me of that night when he called his friends over for an instant drink till you fall party to entertain me and we emptied the 1.8ltr bottle easily.   Although I would recommend it and they do say they are open for tours, it is probably quite a small local company and I don’t know how you will go trying to book a factory tour without any Japanese capacity.  I trust though, as with my experience, the Kagoshima people are the most hospitable people in the world and if you manage to just get a booking across, you should be able to manage.


所在地 〒893-1101 鹿児島県鹿屋市吾平町上名7312
お問い合わせ TEL 0994-58-7171
要予約。Need to book. 
おすすめ時期:いも仕込み最盛期(9月~11月)  Recommended Season when sweet potato is harvested and fermentation starts  (Sept-Nov)
所要時間:60分程度 Tour takes 60min

2. Hombo

These guys seem to have a English (very limited but…)  selection on their home page and seem to have a more commercialized factory tour facility.

3. Satsuma

The largest distiller by far is Satsuma Shuzo.

They seem to have a walk in capability to cater for tours.  The city is also very famous for katsuo or bonito.  Eaten fresh or dried and becomes the main ingredient for the essence of Japanese cuisine, the dashi.

4. Here is the complete list.

JFC Sake and Food Expo

October 4, 2015

Always fun to be invited to these events.  My Japanese food wholesaler, JFC invited me to this event.

Kinmiya shochu which prides itself in creating the “best cheap shochu” in Japan. Shochu is eother classified as Otsu rui or Ko rui the latter being a predominantly continuous distilling mixed with water, therefore generally considered cheap and nasty (cheerful) to be drunk with mixers (chu-hi).   The Kinmiya shochu is distiller to 99 percent and diluted with their prestine well water. The result is a shochu that has no flavour at all, in a good way.  None of the nasty alcohol scents. Therefore the cocktail tastes better.

Akita Seishu’s Yamatoshizuku series is an interesting one. They use the local rice in their own rice paddies or from contractor farmers within a 10km radius.   Most premium sake brewers go to lengths to obtain the premium Yamadanishiki rice from far away sources.  The philosophy of the fresh/local translates to the technique and flavour as well.  The sake is bottled immediately after squeezing which is unusual.  Usually sake is bottled every month and labeled accordingly such as the spring “Hatsu Shibori” , the summer “Namasake”, and the autumn “Hiyaoroshi”.  The Yamatoshizuku series are bottled straight after the first squeeze and you can even taste a bit of gas remaining from the fermentation.  The Yamatoshizuku Junmai Ginjo was a very fresh tasting sake and my choice of the show.

This one is unusual.  A umeshu by Ippongi Shuzo incorporating a chilli kick.

I stopped by to talk with the Tonami Shoyu Company who supplies the two year aged squid sauce which we use to flavour our tonkotsu soup.  They are unlike other commercial suppliers that usually overflavour their products with MSG and sugars.  Their philosophy is keeping true to the beautiful produce. Pictured in the background is plain pasturized Yuzu skin.  They also have very simple yuzu kosho and yuzu miso etc.  The sales rep showed me this beautiful pewter basket ornament also made in Toyama prefecture.  I actually knew about this product because it was introduced in my favourite TV program, Cambria Kyuden, a documentary show hosted by famous author Ryu Murakami and features individuals, corporations or organizations who does something unique and innovative to contribute to society.  I think this skillful craft was picked up when some rural companies were featured for putting ancient techniques, in this case, pewter casting to innovative design production. Tonami and JFC will be helping with the overseas exporting of this item.  I want it!!


City Shop closed

August 30, 2015

Thank you our City Shop has now closed..


<Sept 4th POP UP Night>

Please come to our POP UP shop on Sept 4th Friday evening 6pm to 10pm at Strauss Café 189 Elizabeth St, in the laneway opposite Hilton Hotel. 


<Ascot Shop>

Also please visit our Ascot shop, 145 Racecourse Rd Ascot


<Sept 7th New City Shop>

We will reopen on Sept 7th for lunch and dinner on 288 Edward St with a limited menu.  

Feedback Re Night Noodle Markets – Tonkotsu Soup

August 6, 2015

Hi everyone,

The recipe of the current shop’s tonkotsu soup and the night noodle market soup is a little different. The ingredients are exactly the same but the technique is slightly different aiming a different result in each.  For the markets, I don’t reduce the soup as much and emulsify the soup more, creating a lighter creamier soup intended to be more acceptable to the general public who may be having ramen for the first time.  The shop’s soup on the other hand is reduced more and intended to be more gelatinous and stickier and more intense pork flavours with medium emulsification.   Honestly, the shop’s soup requires more processes and there is much more room for error and I admit it is not always consistent.

I had some feed back at the markets some of which were strongly in favour of the market soup.  To the extent that they told me they were disappointed with the shop’s soup.  Can you provide your feed back on what you think?

2015 Brisbae Night Noodle Marketsが終了しました。マーケット用のスープとお店のスープは材料は一緒ですが、狙いが若干違います。マーケットは一般のラーメンを初めて食べる方にも受け入れてもらえるよう軽めで臭みがない高乳化スープを作っています。一方でお店はより豚骨の味をという事で煮つめて濃度を高めて、少しゼラチン感のある中乳化スープとしております。正直お店の方が工程が難しくばらつきがある事は自覚しておりますが、皆様の忌憚なき意見をお聞かせください。

Free Extra Noodles until stocks run out

August 2, 2015

Night Noodle Markets went well but lots of noodles left over.  Once again, free noodles for everybody!  Hurry in stocks only available for several days.


極細麺 替え玉


Angel Hair Kaedama

Later 後出し

Same Time Separate Bowl or 別皿

In the Same Bowl 同丼

お持ち帰り4玉 $1.00

Take Home 4 for $1.00

While stocks last at both Ascot and CITY.

QLD Top 10 Japanese Restaurants

August 1, 2015

Thank you Good Food Guide for the pick!  Nice pictures too, except me in the background with a sweaty t-shirt…


363 Adelaide St (City Shop) Closure

June 17, 2015


You have provably noticed that our building is being renovated as we continue to operate amidst it all.  

I only have the deepest gratitude towards our hard core customers for braving the noise and continueing to support us. Today in particular the back storage area was flooded from a pipe breakage upstairs and we also had no lighting in the dining area.  Took a few phone calls to get sorted and hoping the issue is fixed for now.  It was stressful to have to serve a full house with patient customers slurping ramen in the dark with a tradie grinding away concrete just next door. More noise and incidents are bound to happen as we continue to trade in a construction site building.  It does seem that the works stop during dinner time and it is pretty quiet so far and impact is minimal except for a few lighting issues making the outside Adelaide street frontage area a bit more moody than the inside dining area.   

I have decided to announce that our city shop will shut shop at end of August (exact day to be announced). Thank you customers for your support for coming to us for the last five years in this location.  We are looking at re-opening at a permanent nearby CBD location in early 2016. When movements are clearer we will update.  

Also if there is a suitable location we are interested in doing a pop up at a interim temporary location and if we do have the luck of this concept materializing, we will certainly also update any such information. 

Thanks again for your tremendous patience and we will do our best to serve you until we close our doors end August.   

Ascot shop will continue to trade as usual.  

Taro Akimoto


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