Ryoga Nakamura

・MSc Viticulture/Oenology, Vinifera Euro Master, SupAgro
・Awarded for Sommelier Scholarship Competition by Japan Sommelier Association in 2022


Sakeist Box Webinar in April, we welcomed Julia Scavo who has won 5th prize at the Best Sommelier of the world in 2013, and Mr. Nakano from Nakano-Shuzo which is representative sake brand “Chiebijin” in Oita prefecture.

We talked and tasted about their sake, and had various discussions.



Nakano Shuzo is a historical sake brewery established since 1874 in Kitsuki City, Oita prefecture.

Their "Chiebijin Junmai-shu" earned the highest award “President’s Award” in Kura Master sake competition in 2018.

This brand name “Chiebijin” has been releasing for 148 years as the name of proprietress of the brewery was “Chie” when it was founded.

"Chiebijin" is based on the concept of gentle sweetness and beautiful acidity.

"bijin" means "beautiful" in Japanese, and as the name implies, it is a very beautiful and elegant sake.



Water and rice are essential to the terroir of sake.

Nakano-Shuzo mainly uses local Yamada-Nishiki from Kitsuki City and brews with the brewery's underground water.

They tried brewing with Yamadanishiki from Hyogo Prefecture which is considered a brand-name rice, but it was the local rice that worked best with the brewery's groundwater.

It was an episode that reminded us once again, each region has its own unique characteristics and this is what terroir is.



 One of the most interesting aspects of Chiebijin's sake brewing is that they play classical music in the brewery.

Some people say it is unscientific, but the yeast is a living organism, and playing classical music relaxes it and allows it to ferment smoothly and beautifully.

We can sometimes see this in winemaking also.

Of course, another great point of view is to make the workers feel relaxed by that.



 We tasted two sakes “Chiebijin Junmai-shu” and “Chiebijin Junmai-daiginjo Yamada-Nishiki”.


 When I tasted "Chiebijin Junmai-shu" for the first time, I was surprised that this was junmai-shu!

Its freshness and acidity are very remarkable and this is exactly what pure and elegant sake is.

A lot of people say that the more polished the rice is, the more beautiful the sake will be, but the more polished the rice is, the more rice is needed.

Mr. Nakano says that he does not want to waste the rice grown by farmers.

There are three key points to why such sake can be made with low-polished rice.

・To adjust the water absorption rate by washing 10 kg of rice at a time.

・Low temperature fermentation at 10℃.

・Bottling immediately after pressing and thorough refrigeration management.


It was very interesting to hear that Julia explain the difference between wine and sake at the end of the session.

It is about pH value of wine and sake.

The pH is a value that expresses the degree of acidity or alkalinity, and our body fluids are kept at a slightly alkaline level of about pH 7.4.

In general, wine has a pH of 3-3.5, while sake has a slightly higher pH and therefore a milder acidity.

Also, while sulfites are generally added to wine, they are not added to sake.

Therefore, she said sake is purer than wine and it penetrates our bodies more gently.

It was a very interesting seminar, and I learned a lot about the new contrast between sake and wine, which I had not paid attention to before.




Ryoga Nakamura

・MSc Viticulture/Oenology, Vinifera Euro Master, SupAgro
・Awarded for Sommelier Scholarship Competition by Japan Sommelier Association in 2022