Awaji Island is a patch of land about three quarters the size of New York City located in the Seto Inland Sea. According to Japanese mythology, when the gods were making land for us to live on, Awaji was their first work. The story goes that a pair of deities used their spears to stir up the sea, and some kind of divine chemistry created terra firma.
There’s something similar happening on the island now, as master brewer Kunihiro Yamauchi and his team take long wooden poles and stir rice, yeast and aspergillus oryzae with water to make exceptional ricey, earthy sakes that age superbly.
When Yamauchi took the reins at Miyako Bijin he built state-of-the-art koji rooms with more chambers than any brewery this size could expect to have. This allows him the freedom to give his koji all the time it needs. It is not uncommon for him to let it develop for 20% longer than the industry norm. Sakes at Miyako Bijin are brewed in small batches, often in the time-consuming yamahai style. Some of that yamahai sake is the base for KuroKura’s yuzu liqueur.