Toshimaya Sake Brewery, Tokyo

Toshimaya front

Brewery History

Toshimaya began as a sake store and tavern with its founder, Toshimaya Juemon. The store first opened at Kamakura Waterfront (now the bridge area in Kanda, central Tokyo) in 1596. The tavern served many samurai, merchants, and lay-workers during the reconstruction of the old Edo castle. Juemon also started brewing “shirozake” (white sake), which gained popularity throughout Edo (modern day Tokyo) during the Edo Period. Shirozake is a sweet rice liqueur that proved to be particularly popular with women at the time, prompting the Japanese custom of offering shirozake during Hinamatsuri (the Girls’ Day celebration).

The Toshimaya in Kanda would later evolve into Toshimaya Corporation, which began brewing sake under the Kinkon brand in the middle of the Meiji Period. At first, the brewery was built in the Nada area, in the southern part of Hyogo prefecture. In the early Showa Period, Toshimaya Brewery was relocated to its current site in Higashi-murayama, west of Tokyo, where they continue to brew Kinkon sake, shirozake (white sake liqueur), and mirin (sweet cooking sake). Kinkon has the distinction of being the sole sake to be used as a sacred offering at both the Meiji Jingu and Kanda Myojin Shrines.

Skillfully brewed by their master brewer, Kinkon stands as one of Tokyo’s quintessential sake offerings. Brewed using water from their 150m-deep aquifer, whose water originates at Mt. Fuji, together with carefully-selected sake rice, Kinkon has been awarded numerous gold prizes at the Annual Japan Sake Awards.

Using the same high quality and standard, Toshimaya also brews some modern-style sake in small batches under the Rita and Oku-no-kami brands. Rita began as a crowdfunded sake project initiated by Toshimaya, and is only available at Toshimaya’s Kanda store, while Oku-no-kami is a batch-brewed craft sake, supplied mainly to restaurants and “izakaya” (Japanese style pubs).

Toshimaya Staff


okunokami logo


Rita Logo




Sake characteristic

Using mostly Hattan-nishiki sake rice from Hiroshima, and groundwater originating from Mt. Fuji, drawn from their own well, Toshimaya brew their Oku-no-kami and Rita sake brands.

Oku-no-kami is a small-batch, unfiltered and undiluted, handcrafted sake with an aromantic character and a light flavour.

Rita, by contrast, is brewed to showcase different yeast strains, creating a soft but umami-rich and vibrant sake. With both incarnations proving a hit with locals and sake enthusiasts, it is regarded as the quintessential local sake of modern Tokyo.

Toshimaya Bottling

Location & Climate

The Toshimaya Brewery is located in Higashi-murayama, west of Tokyo. This was once an agricultural area, noted for its production of sweet potatoes, having milder weather compared to central Tokyo. The terrain consists of high ground, which is quite resistant to natural disasters such as earthquakes and floods, and has plentiful subterranean water, well-suited to sake brewing. Embracing the “Made in Tokyo” ethos, Toshimaya is able to place its long traditions and reputation firmly within Tokyo, one of the great food capitals of the world.

Although Toshimaya does not grow their own rice, they have been using Hattan-nishiki sake rice from Hiroshima for quite some time. Having been forced to use other rice varieties when Hattan-nishiki has not been available in the past, they ultimately concluded that Hattan-nishiki is the most compatible with their water, and have thus resolved to use it as their main sake rice for brewing.