With several large rivers and underground water that flows from Mt. Aso, Kumamoto is rich in high-quality water resources, making it an ideal region for growing sake rice. This water combined with the skill of master sake brewers yields rich, sweet sakes. Until the Edo era (1603-1868), brewers were only able to make akazake, a local style of sake brewed with added charcoal according to a policy set by the feudal lord, but with the Meiji era (1868-1912) came techniques for brewing seishu (“clear sake”).
Local brewers teamed up to improve their brewing technologies and develop strains of yeast and rice suitable for sake brewing. Eventually, seishu came to replace akazake, which all but disappeared, but it has since been revived as a local specialty. It is considered indispensable as omiki (sake offered to the gods) and toso (a special sake drunk during the New Year’s holidays) and has even garnered accolades from professional chefs as a cooking sake.