TOP > WHAT IS SHOCHU?
The major islands of Japan stretch from Hokkaido in the north to Kyushu in the south. At the southernmost tip of Kyushu sits the region known in modern times as Kagoshima Prefecture, but traditionally known as Satsuma. Historically, Satsuma was the feudal domain name, only replaced late in the nineteenth century by the modern prefecture name of Kagoshima. For many people in Japan, Kagoshima is still Satsuma. Satsuma has come to be so identified with the Japanese sweet potato that the name of the Japanese sweet potato itself is, literally, Satsuma Imo (Satsuma=Kagoshima, Imo=Potato). We are located in Minami Satsuma (Minami= South), the best area for growing Satsuma Imo. Our Honkaku Imo Shochu benefits from all the favorable conditions that make Minami Satsuma the best place for making Imo shochu.
For the best potato, a number of factors are necessary: long sunlight hours, the proper amount of irrigation, and the right kind of soil. The weather and climate in this far southern part of Japan favors the growing of the Satsuma Imo (the Japanese sweet potato) over the traditional rice growing in other parts of Japan. The conditions here in the warm south make for long days with lots of sun, and long growing days make for a sweet potato that truly is sweet. The active volcanoes in Kagoshima make for soil that naturally filters the water, and holds just the right amount of water for the optimal growth of the sweet potato. Our contract farmers grow all of the Satsuma Imo used in our Imo Shochu right here in Minami Satsuma, at the foot of Mt. Kaimon. Mt. Kaimon is a local landmark and symbol, and has the best of the growing conditions that Satsuma has to offer. We are truly blessed by nature to have the perfect climate, with the perfect soil and clean water that the Satsuma volcanoes bring us. We celebrate our hometown's perfect setting by making the best Imo Shochu from the best Satsuma Imo.
The shochu brew masters' (Toji) guild is right here in Minami Satsuma, in a town called Kurose. The shochu brew masters, called 'Toji', have all learned their traditional art of shochu brew mastering by apprenticing to those who have mastered the art of Toji brew mastering. Generations after generations of Toji brew masters have all learned the craft as apprentices, right here in Kurose. We honor the long history of the Kurose Toji brew masters by making the same quality Imo shochu that we have always made, under the guidance of traditional Toji brew masters, for generations.
Because we have always lived a life centered the Satsuma Imo (Japanese Sweet Potato), it is only natural that the tradition of making shochu from the Satsuma Imo has a long history here in Minami Satsuma. Our Imo Shochu, Satsuma Shiranami, is produced here in Minami Satsuma by people who have grown up passionate about, and surrounded by, the culture of Satsuma Imo and Imo Shochu.
Minami Satsuma is the hometown of Imo Shochu.