Chloé Cazaux Grandpierre

Founder & CEO of Chloe&Wines, as well as Otsukimi - Buveurs de Lune,
Companies specialized in wine tourism and wine promotion but also saké and Japanese beverages distribution, respectively.
The only one female certified sake educator in France by SSA (Sake Sommelier Association)

Women of Japanese sake world


March has a special flair: it is the transition from winter to spring and nature is awakening little by little. Buds appear like small emeralds on trees, bees are doing their ballet and flowers bloom under a discreet cool sun. Is it to embody this renewal that March is also synonymous with femininity? Indeed, March 8th is International Women's Day... If this introduction is poetic and takes you into a garden, the truth about this specific day is quite different. It is a day of global mobilization to celebrate the fights of the past and those, daily, that we carry out for the women rights to be recognized.


This year, the theme of International Women's Day is based on "gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow". Of course, the environmental notion is fundamental since it is about "recognizing the contribution of women and girls around the world who lead the offensive in adapting to and responding to climate change and its mitigation, in favor of building a more sustainable future for all people” ( But I like to believe that it is also about sustainability when some women perpetuate traditions and know-how so that they do not disappear...


Then, I wanted to highlight women in the world of Japanese sake. This cultural, millennial, social beverage is losing ground in the country where it was born. There are fewer consumers of sake and consequently so are the producers. Perhaps salvation will come from women... There are many of them in the world of Nihonshu: we conducted three interviews with three of them, three personalities, three characters, three philosophies... and yet, one goal: may Japanese sake persist over time, may it continue to live!


Here are our discussions with Shigeri Shiraki-san from Maison Daruma Masamune, Miho Imada-san from Maison Imada and Rumiko Mori-san from Maison Moriki. I invite you to read this article while enjoying a glass of sake (always in moderation, of course)!





Interview with Shigeri Shiraki-san from Shiraki Shuzo


From the beginning of our interview, Shigeri Shiraki-san impressed me with her vision of the saké world. She is an adventurer who does not seem to be afraid of anything, a woman of character as we like them who have ideas and who go after things. Like the Daruma* effigy of her Maison, she always gets up and embraces her Gifu region for which she has great admiration. The work she carries out within Shiraki Shuzo is not only for her but it is also for her whole community. A great notion of sustainability for a Kura that specializes in aged sake called Koshu.


*Traditionally red papier-mâché figurine with a round shape (no arms, no legs), a mustache and large open eyes. It is a symbol of perseverance, luck and success.




1) Why did you decide to take over from your father?


At the end of the Edo era in 1835, our Maison was already producing sake. In 1891 a terrible earthquake destroyed our Kura and we had to rebuilt it. That's when we decided to call our sakés range Daruma Masamune. Daruma never falls, it always gets up. Like us! My father is the sixth generation, and I am the middle of 3 sisters. I have always lived in the Kura: from the age of 3 I was watching my father work. It was also during this period that he decided to age his sakés. My sisters didn't want to take over, so I'm the one representing the seventh generation.


2) Did you find it difficult to take the Kura over?


31 years ago, when I took over from my father, it was very rare to see a woman in a Kura, but I didn't find it difficult. In general, it is the son or the son-in-law who takes over the Maison. Today, I am the Kuramoto and my husband is the Toji.



3) What is your role?


I think about the choice of saké that would be good to produce and how to sell it. I also take care of communication: we make short videos about “What are our sakés?” and I also manage marketing and sales. I do less administration than before though.

I am very attentive to how to promote the Gifu region: for example, we use rice from the region but also, and above all, rice produced locally around the Kura. It is important to evolve together.




4) Why is your House specialized in Koshu?


In the 1970s, television and advertisements made it possible to test many new products. Before, people used to consume only locally. In our minds, we had to create a product that will stand out from the others: we discovered by chance five bottles of forgotten saké... and when we tasted them, the impression was magnificent! We then carried out research on Koshu: it might date back from the 12th century. It was therefore obvious to us that we had to revive this type of saké.

The production method has not changed since my father: the sakés age in natural conditions except if there is a summer heatwave. We then make the decision to regulate the temperature for the ageing. We also tried an experiment recently: we aged a saké from November to June at 15 meters deep under the sea! It's a new collection. Moreover, a press team has just left the Kura: I presented my new experimental project to them. I am creating a traveling saké!!! The bottles travel by train through Japan. This is adventure! Maybe it's because I'm a woman that I try this kind of madness! (Laughs)

Daruma Masamuse are Koshu but we also produce the Junmai Usuzumi Zakura range.





5) What advice would you give to a woman who wants to join the world of saké?


I have regrets about certain projects that I did not dare to carry out when I was younger. Today, with experience, I dare! If you want to do something, do it! And do it again! It is better to try than to live with regrets. I think women now can try, much more than before. So, you shouldn't restrict yourself on the pretext that you're a woman. Yes, you were born a woman, so assume it! Become an inspiration!


6) Are you a member of an association?


I am part of the Kura Women Summit, an association of women in the world of sake: Toji but not only. It is Rumiko Mori-san who set up this group so that we can exchange and also gather between people who understand each other and share the same values. We are of about sixty members.



Read related articles :


Vol2. Miho Imada-san from Fukucho


Vol3. Rumiko Moriki-san from Moriki Shuzo


Chloé Cazaux Grandpierre

Founder & CEO of Chloe&Wines, as well as Otsukimi - Buveurs de Lune,
Companies specialized in wine tourism and wine promotion but also saké and Japanese beverages distribution, respectively.
The only one female certified sake educator in France by SSA (Sake Sommelier Association)