“Goddess of Inheritance – Chisa Aoki (27), 8th generation brewer of ‘Aoki Sake Brewery’, which has a history of 186 years in Koga, Ibaraki”

Our Senior Managing Director, Chisa Aoki, was featured in the Wednesday corner of TV Asahi’s information program “Shinichi Hatori Morning Show” broadcasted on March 22, 2017, which is titled “Goddess of Inheritance”.

I appeared on TV Asahi’s “Goddess of Inheritance” on March 22, 2017!

According to the description in the program’s website, “Goddess of Inheritance” is a program that closely cover the women who strive to preserve and pass on the traditions to the next generation, and I was selected to appear in this program! Announcer Natsumi Uga have visited me in person and interviewed me about how I have strived to become a female brewer as the eighth generation of Aoki Sake Brewery with a history of 186 years in Koga City, Ibaraki Prefecture.

The program has introduced our sake “Gokeiji Junmai Ginjo Hitachinishiki”, which was awarded the Grand Prix in the Junmai Ginjo category out of approximately 1,300 Japanese sakes entries at the global competition “International Wine Challenge” held in London on July 7, 2016. (720ml, 1,836 yen, tax included). The studio members who tasted the sake said, “The Ginjo aroma is not too strong, and the taste is soft and mellow with a long aftertaste.”

In the program, “NANBOYA” antique appraiser Norisumi Ebisawa appraised “a ceramic vase that looks like a bamboo tube”, which has been in our house for many years. To our surprise, he said, “This is definitely a genuine work of bamboo shaped vase made by Kitaoji Rosanjin” and its appraised value was a million yen! If I hadn’t known it, I would throw it away as junk……

The program also showed how Kazuhiro Yanai, the chief brewer, and I determine the time to press sake. Mr. Yanai is not a year-round employee of our brewery. He is a craftsman brewer who only lives in the brewery during the winter pressing season to be in charge of press process. Except for the preparation period, he works at a brewery in his hometown of Aizu.

In March, when the interview started, it was the time to complete the sake that we had been brewing since November of last year, and we worked to determine the best time to press the mash. We decided to press the mash on that day because it smelled like melon, and fine bubbles rose from it. Since determining the right time requires sensory capabilities towards aroma, etc., it is still difficult for me, and it is said that it takes more than 10 years to become a full-fledged brewer, so I am still working on it.

Once the press process is complete, the sake is completed. The mash is transferred using a hose and the finished sake is filled into the tank. This is the moment when the quality of this year’s sake will be known.
Mr. Yanai checked the sake and said, “This year’s quality is better than that of previous years”. Announcer Natsumi Uga, who has also tasted the sake and said, “It’s fresh and delicious”.

It was four years ago, when I was 23, that I decided to take over Aoki Sake Brewery. In the interview for the program, my mother, Yayoi, the seventh-generation proprietress, said, “I was surprised but grateful because the sake industry is predominantly male-dominated”, and My father, Shigenobu, the seventh-generation proprietor, said, “I was surprised and never thought she would actually say ‘I will do it’. If she hadn’t taken over, no one would have been able to, so I’m grateful for what she has done for us”.

What I have in mind is that “I want as many different people as possible to drink the sake that I have made with my best efforts”. Currently, “Gokeiji” is mostly consumed within the prefecture and is still unknown nationwide, so my aim is to make it a national product.

The program also showed our stall at the Koga Peach Festival, which has attracted about 200,000 visitors from all over Japan. At this event, which is a chance for many people to learn about sake, our sales target for the day was 50 bottles, but we were able to sell 62 bottles.

Finally, as “a word from the Goddess”, the program picked out the words I said, “Try first what you can do! Worry about it afterwards. Since sake brewing is still a male-dominated industry, so I would like to try everything possible, and if it doesn’t work out, we will think about it afterwards.

In addition, we also received encouragement from people all over the country who have seen the program, as well as many more orders than we had anticipated. We were unable to keep up with the large number of orders placed, and have caused a lot of inconvenience to our customers. I would like to take this opportunity to apologize again. We are sorry for any inconvenience caused to everyone. We will do our best to meet your many expectations. Thank you for your continued support.

It has been 8 years since I returned to the brewery. Through this TV program, we have been able to let a lot of customers know about our brand.
Even now, we are trying various new things every year in the spirit of “trying what we can do first”.
In the future, I would like to make the brewery a place where customers are interested in what the interesting things that we are engaged with and how much efforts we are putting in.
Although we still have some immaturity, whenever we encounter problems, we will make improvements and enhancements to make our brewery to be a source of pride for the local people.

31th, October, 2022 
Chisa Aoki