Registration and Designation of Japanese Heritage, Intangible Cultural Properties, and Folk Cultural Properties Related to Kokushu

  • Sake
  • Shochu
  • Awamori
  • Mirin

Registration as Intangible Cultural Property

1. “Traditional Sake Brewing” (Preservation Society of Traditional Japanese Sake Brewing Techniques using Koji)

Sake is one of the many food cultures that has its roots in Japan since ancient times, even appearing in the Kojiki. Since the Meiji era, the production of sake has been mechanized and upscaled, yet the traditional production techniques conducted by hand are still in use today in the brewing of sake, shochu, awamori, and mirin.

Techniques used to brew sake made their first historical appearance in “Harima Kokudoki” from the Nara period, which mentioned that sake was brewed using mold. During the Muromachi period, a production technique using rose koji, unique to Japan, was established, and distilled liquor such as shochu and awamori made their appearance. The crux of the technique is to produce the desired quality of sake by making precise adjustments to the multiple parallel fermentation process, including pretreatment of raw materials, koji production, and handling of moromi.

Japanese Heritage

1. “Since the Ryukyu Kingdom Era: Traditional Okinawan ‘Ryukyu Cuisine’, ‘Awamori’, and ‘Entertainment'” (Okinawa Prefecture)

Okinawa Prefecture was once known as the Ryukyu Kingdom and had its own culture. The Ryukyu Kingdom prided itself as being ‘the country of courtesy, a country that values etiquette’ and thus welcomed all visiting foreign guests. The feast to honor the Chinese emperor’s envoy was a particularly important national event. The court cuisine and awamori served then, as well as the entertainments performed, are still loved by Okinawans to this day.

2. “Itami and Chogoro, the Famous Breweries that Produced Kudarizake ‘Itami Morohaku’ and ‘Nada no Nama Ippon'” (Hyogo Prefecture)

During the Edo period, sake brewers in Itami, Nishinomiya, and Nada employed excellent techniques to produce high-quality sake known as kudarizake from good rice and water, which were then delivered via dedicated cargo vessels to Edo. Thus, the standard for sake was set. In this place blessed with the climate and people of Mt. Rokko, there are those who protect the water sources, those who cultivate rice, those who gather at festivals, and those who visit and enjoy the breweries, all coming together to create 400 years of sake tradition and innovation.

The following are not directly linked to, but are constituents of cultural property.

3. Tamba Sasayama’s Dekansho-Bushi (Sasayama City)

Tamba Sasayama flourished as a castle town during the Edo Period and is famous for dekansho-bushi, the traditional folk songs of that region. The song lyrics depicted the local climate, human nature, famous sights, and culinary specialties of the area. People here have cherished and treasured their landscape and culture throughout the ages by singing dekansho-bushi.
To this day, local people continue to compose new lyrics for the over 300 dekansho-bushi and pass these musical traditions on to the next generation. Through these songs, visitors can experience the traditional town atmosphere of Tamba Sasayama with its rows of old houses and charming streets.
(Constituent of Cultural Property) Tamba Toji’s sake brewing technology, Otori Sake Brewery

4. The Border Islands Iki, Tsushima, and Goto ~The Ancient Bridge to the Continent~

Nagasaki’s islands, situated between the mainlands of Japan and Asia, have been an important hub for marine transportation and cultural exchange since ancient times. With their particularly strong ties with the Korean Peninsula, Iki Island capitalized on its marine trade and built a kingdom during the Yayoi Era. From the Middle Ages, Tsushima Island gained a monopoly on trade and diplomatic affairs with Korea and prospered as a hub for transit trades and as an arrival point for official envoys.
Although the area’s trade has weakened over time, traces of past prosperity are still visible in the local homes, castle remains, and gardens. Vestiges of cultural exchange are also evident in the islands’ culinary specialties such as shochu and noodles. These islands have experienced considerable exchange with mainland Asia through repeated periods of conflict and interaction, and visitors can readily feel the strong bond between countries and peoples that is unique to this region.

5. Educational Heritage Objects of Early Modern Japan (Hita City)

Even before the introduction of the modern education system in Japan, many ordinary people aside from the samurai rulers were also able to read, write, do arithmetic, and observe proper etiquette, showing a high level of education.
This is largely due to the presence of schools at various levels, such as clan schools, village schools, and private schools, and it became the driving force of early modernization after the Meiji Restoration. Even in modern times, an emphasis on scholarship, education, and etiquette has been inherited as a part of Japan’s national character.
(Constituent of Cultural Property) Mamedamachi

Achievements related to Designation of Folk Cultural Properties and Intangible Cultural Properties Related to ‘Food’

1. Important Tangible Folk Cultural Properties (Designated)

・Sake brewing tools used by Nanbu Toji, Iwate Prefecture (S57)

・Sake brewing tools from Nada, Hyogo Prefecture (S46)

・Sake brewing tools from Hizen Saga, Saga Prefecture (S63)

2. Intangible Folk Cultural Properties for which Record Creation should be Undertaken

・ Sake brewing customs in southern Iwate Prefecture (S55)

・Sake brewing customs in Nanao, Ishikawa Prefecture (S57)

・Sake brewing customs in Hyogo Prefecture (S43)

・Sake barrel production techniques in Nada, Hyogo Prefecture (H31)

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