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  • Writer's pictureMonsieur Saké

A new Sakamai better fit to the cold climate of Aomori

Updated: May 19, 2023

On June 24, 2019, a delegation of brewers from the southeast region of Aomori Prefecture courteously visited and thank their governor.

It is because in response to the thoughts and requests of those brewers, the Industrial Technology Centre of Aomori Prefecture has created a new Sakamai (sake rice) by hybridization, the GinEboshi 吟烏帽子.


The sakamai GinEboshi family tree, sake rice for Aomori sake breweries.
The GinEboshi family tree

The Yamagatashu 山形酒 and Kuro 黒 varieties (a sub-variety of aokei 青系) are the parents of Gin-Eboshi.

Aokei 青系, a rice well adapted to the climate of Aomori, reappears a few times in its close ancestors which also include Yamadanishiki 山田錦 and Miyamanishiki 美山錦.

Already, three shuzo-kotekimai (officialy recognized sake rice) had been created especially for Aomori brewers.


This variety was designed to outperform most Sakamai in cold and disease resistance. He is the most cultured Sakamai in Aomori Prefecture.


It resists polishing well and is therefore suitable for Ginjo and Daiginjo sake, producing clean and refined tasting sake.


Hanasayaka is a cultivar developed to satisfy various Japanese sake preferences with a refreshing finish.

They are all perfectly designed for the made-of-long-days short summers of Aomori.

吟烏帽子, Aomori, Oyashio, Tsugaru, Sakes of Aomori Prefecture

These three cultivars are perfect for the rice fields near the breweries installed in the Hirosaki 弘前 region (dots 1 to 11) and therefore benefit from the heat of the warm streams of the Sea of Japan, including that of the Tsugaru.

The rice fields located on the eastern flank of the prefecture are affected by the chill and humidity brought by the Oyashio, a cold stream from the Bering Sea.

Brewers settled in the southeast of the Prefecture (dots 12 to 18) and wanting to use a locally grown Sakamai were looking for a variety better adapted to the coldness and the diseases linked to the humidity brought by the Oyashio.

The answer came in the first year of the Reiwa era (2019):

the GinEboshi 吟烏帽子.

The Etymology

Its name, chosen by popular contest, evokes the hat in the shape of a horse’s head worn by the dancers of Enburi, an event which has the status of National Intangible Folk Cultural Properties and which takes place on each spring equinox in the Hachinoe 八戸 region. It is a ritual to awaken the god of the paddy fields from his winter slumber in order to obtain good harvests.

The highlight of the Enburi is the dance of the Tayu 太夫 wearing the magnificent Gin-Eboshi, resuming the movements of the sowing of grains and the transplanting of rice.

盛田庄兵衛, Morita Shobe, Shijo no Magokoro Junmai Daiginjo Namachozo

Morita Shobe (dot 17 on the above Aomori map) in shichinohe 七戸町 is one of the first breweries to use this new shuzo-kotekimai (officialy recognized sake rice).

Indeed, the Shijô No Magokoro Junmai Daiginjo Namachozo (brewed in very small quantities, 600 bottles of 500 ml per year) is produced with 40% polished Gin-Eboshi.


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