Junmai Sake ‘Yu’ Made in Richmond - Locally-brewed Sake to the World

Junmai Sake ‘Yu’ Made in Richmond - Locally-brewed Sake to the World

Mr. Kasugai producing Japanese sake in Richmond
Photo taken by Thomas Buchan

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 A sake brewery ‘YK3 Sake Producer Inc.’ in Richmond(#23-11151 Horseshoe Way, Tel: 604-821-0539) has started distribution of junmai sake (sake made with rice without any preservatives) ‘Yu’ in public since February.

 Yuki Kobayashi and Yoshihiro Kawamura incorporated the brewery last February. The company name ‘YK’ stands for the initial of the two owners and Toji (master brewer) Yoshiaki Kasugai. They put feeling into ‘producing wonderful sake in cooperation with three of us’ after they noticed their initials are coincidentally same.

 The ground area of the brewery is 2,200 square feet. 400 to 450 litter of sake is produced by one preparation. The products started to be sold are three types of ‘Yu’ brand: Traditional junmai sake ‘Yu Junmai Sake’ (green label/ 375 ml = CAD 14.90, 750 ml = CAD 24.90), Junmai sake made with 100 % rice koji (rice malt) ‘Yu Junmai All Koji Sake (orange label/ 375 ml = CAD 15.90, 750 ml = CAD 25.90) and junmai nigori sake (cloudy sake) ‘Yu Junmai Nigori Sake (pink label/ 375 ml = CAD 12.90)

 Brand name ‘Yu’ stands for ‘sake not for me but for You’ as well as is pronounced easily for foreigners. The spell is also similar to Spanish ‘ju!’ used when people are surprised and impressed at an area of Argentina. They named the sake with their wish, ‘I want people to express their admiration “Wow” while they are drinking our sake.’ (Ms. Kobayashi) When they were thinking about Chinese character, ‘遊(Yu = playing)’ and ‘優(Yu = excellent)’ were a list of names, but they noticed ‘悠 (Yu)’ has meaning of ‘relaxed’ and ‘eternal.’ They decided with all the consent to use the character as it is easy to design logo of the labels.

 Mr. Kasugai had training as Kurodo (sake brewery staff) in Nagano and Shiga from 1999 and has been Japanese Toji in Canada since 2007. He said, ‘There has no extreme temperature difference and it is stable climate in Richmond (compared to Japan). The composition of water is similar to that in Nagano. The water is very tasty.’ He also said, ‘Preparation can be done throughout the year and this enables us to provide fresh sake at all times. We want people in Canada and the world to know the good quality of Japanese sake.’ He devotes himself to the preparation of sake on day and night, even on weekends.

 Ms. Kobayashi said, ‘We carefully adjusted each flavor and taste so that a broard range of customers, who drink Japanese sake for the first time, food connoisseur, wine lovers, old and young, to enjoy our sake.’ She also said, ‘Japanese restaurants mainly in Vancouver and Victoria keep and sell our sake currently. Junmai Sake with the green label is easy to drink, so we recommend it to those who are Japanese sake beginners. Traditional and low sweet Nigori Sake with the pink label is more popular than expected.’

 ‘Without Mr. Kasugai’s skills, we could not sell the sake. We wish we could produce so-called “The Kasugai” sake,’ said Ms. Kobayashi, giving 120 % of trust to the skills of Toji. She expressed the goals about their future business expansion, ‘We want to expand our market gradually from British Columbia to Alberta, Ontario and throughout Canada. We are also targeting to export our products to foreign countries once our business is going well. We hope to attend competitions to make our products familiarized.’ She also said, ‘If our current products establish popularity at a certain extent, we want to provide Junmai Ginjoshu (high quality sake) and Junmai Daiginjoshu (top quality sake), which are Japanese sake with one level up of the current ones. We are also thinking about how to utilize sake kasu (sake lees) produced in the course of preparation. We are developing our ideas to produce the sake products well.’

 Their sake is sold at Bute/ Alberni of BC liquor store (768 Bute Street, Vancouver) and Legacy Liquor Store (1633 Manitoba Street, Vancouver). A store list is available on their website.

(Translated by Hiroko Shioda)