Kinokuniya Bunzaemon: Sake Inspired by the Legendary Edo Merchant

The Legend of Kinokuniya Bunzaemon                                     11 Oct 2021        

Kinokuniya Bunzaemon, one of the most famous business tycoons from Kishu (former name of Wakayama), made a fortune in the Edo Period by risking his life to transport loads of Kishu mikan (mandarin oranges) on a ship called the “Kinokuni Mikanbune” to Edo.

Arida in Wakayama Prefecture has long been famous for its mikan cultivation. Mikan is said to have been introduced from Yatsushiro, Kyushu Island in 1547, and took root here as Arida had little flat land and it was difficult to grow rice.


In 1634, Tobei Takigawara of Arida decided to send his own mikan oranges to Edo (current day Tokyo) by ship. They were a hit there, and from then on Arida mikan oranges were always in a high demand. However, one particular year, when the annual Fuigo Festival (which has a tradition of throwing mikan to the children) in Edo was approaching, the sea was too rough to sail and both the farmers who grew the oranges and the merchants who sold them were in trouble.

However, a 17 year-old young man who would later be known as Kinokuniya Bunzaemon, bravely volunteered to ship mikan. Even this would be a dangerous trip,  he knew that if he shipped the oranges now, they would sell like hotcakes. Kinokuniya Bunzaemon was joined by his two friends and overcoming the challenges,  they managed to safely deliver mikan oranges to Edo.  With the money earned from selling mikan, Bunzaemon became a merchant dealing in lumber in Edo, and is said to have made a great fortune.


Kinokuniya Bunzaemon Junmai Namachozoshu

Wakayama-based Nakano BC is best known for their premium umeshu, but they are also brew high quality sake brand "Chokyu" and "Kinokuniya Bunzaemon".  The brand name "Kinokuniya Bunzaemon" was inspired by this story and is brewed to a higher quality with the aim of creating a sake with a gentle taste of rice that is typical of Wakayama.

It is an unpasteurized junmai sake with a gentle taste of robust rice flavor typical of Wakayama. Heat treated once, it has the freshness that only unpasteurized sake can have, and a firm but gentle aroma that no other unpasteurized sake has. Recommended to serve chilled. Enjoy the well-balanced and refreshing taste!

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