The Secret Story of the Maker

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Toji Miyazaki Risked His Life to Make Kuma Shochu

In the Meiji era (1868-1912), many Kuma shochu breweries invited a toji (master distiller) from the Kurose district on the Satsuma Peninsula in Kagoshima Prefecture. The Kurose toji was the first toji. Fukuda Shuzo's first toji was also from Kurose, and from the second generation onward, the company had its own toji, and Mr. Miyazaki now is the fourth generation. At first, Mr. Miyazaki was in charge of sales, but before his predecessor quit the brewery, he decided to take over and began learning how to make shochu. However, an unusual incident occurred, when he developed an allergy to koji mold.
A rash broke out all over his body, and he developed asthma-like symptoms. He gave up on shochu production then, saying that there was nothing he could do - but when his predecessor left the brewery, he tried again. During the brewing season, koji mold dances around the brewery, so he wears protective clothing to protect himself completely. February, when the brewing process begins, is just fine because of the cold weather, but toward the end of the process in May, the heat becomes Mr. Miyazaki's worst enemy.
"Another brewer had the same problem, and although I asked him what he did about it, he couldn't overcome it. The doctor warned him not to be exposed to koji mold anymore," Mr. Miyazaki says. Still, his zeal to "deliver delicious shochu to everyone" has prevailed, and at the beginning of the New Year, he will start preparing for brewing again. We hope you will take a sample of the Kuma shochu that Mr. Miyazaki makes at great risk to his life.