When you speak of “Doburoku”, your heart will be trickled by it immediately. Where, why and how they made it seized my imagination. When I taste a mouthful of it, I can feel how special it is.

“Doburoku” is a kind of Japanese sake without filtering. It is made with rice, koji (Malted rice) and water, the same as normal Japanese sake. Japanese sake is filtered while Doburoku is not, so it is clouded. It has a connection with Shinto ritual. During the Asuka to Nara era (592 – 794), people worshiped and dedicated Doburoku to gods for good harvest.

After alcohol was spread among the public, more people started making their own Doburoku. However, brewing sake was prohibited by the government in 1899. Many people brewing sake in secret were arrested. “Doburoku Special Region” was established for regional development in 2002. Doburoku can be brewed in this region. Shops and hotels can provide and sell it too.

Both of us have been eaten rice since childhood and dreamt of brewing our own Doburoku. When we were doing research regarding fermented food in Gujo and hearing about this Doburoku Special Zone in Gujo Yamato area, we were so interested! This “Kokindenju-no-sato Yamato Special Food and Culture Regeneration Zone (Doburoku Special Zone)” was approved in 2008. We found that “Motai Workshop” and “Mikawaya” located in Gujo-shi Yamato-cho are making Doburoku. We decided to visit and see what kind of Doburoku we can encounter.

Doburoku Special Region No. 1 in Gujo-shi Yamato-cho
Heading to “Motai Workshop” and “Oku-no-oku”

Doburoku Special Region No. 1 in Gujo-shi Yamato-cho
Heading to “Motai Workshop” and “Oku-no-oku”


The first place we are going to visit is the first shop in this Doburoku Special Zone, “Motai Workshop”. They grow their own rice for making Doburoku and make their own Yuba (Tofu skin) cuisine.


Driving slowly and enjoying the scenery along the road, we drive deep into the mountain. It is really located deep inside the mountain, that is why the sake is called “Oku-no-oku” means deep and deep.
When we open our eyes, we can feel the air here is so fresh and clean and the view here is so beautiful. We park our car and find “Motai Workshop” is right in front of us.

They are selling the most famous product “Iburi-dofu (Smoked tofu)”, tofu and abura-age (Deep-fried tofu), etc at the entrance of the tofu workshop. People are making tofu at the back. Mr Kakehi comes to us and explains how to make Doburoku.


“70-80% of the Koshihikari (A variety of rice), we grew, will be brought to local sake brewery or miso shop to make koji (Malted rice). After that, steam the rice we use for Kakemai (Rice used to produce Japanese sake) and spread it to cool. Put all rice, koji and water into the tank and wait for fermentation.

Mr Kakehi explains to us very briefly and says “I like dry Doburoku, but people like the sweet one. All Doburoku I made is the dry one that I like.”

The most delicious Doburoku is the fresh one that made within a month. Some makers consider fermentation after putting into the glass bottle and sell them earlier, but our Doburoku has the best taste right after we start selling it. We sell it when it is fresh.


The water they use for “Oku-no-oku” is the underground water coming from the Mt Motai-eboshi with height of 1300m. The temperature of water keeps at around 10-12 degrees so the quality of the Doburoku remains high throughout the year. You can hardly find bacteria inside this water so the Doburoku will not go bad. Thus, the rice they use is old rice. In tradition, Doburoku used the remaining rice, that farmers saved for eating. The Doburoku Special Zone and this workshop keep this tradition. It makes you feel so good.

Applying to be one of the Doburoku Special Zones seems very hard. Mr Kakehi says “With the help from Gujo City Hall, Gifu Prefectural Industrial Technology Center and Yamato Tourist Association, we are able to get the approval. The yearly ‘Doburoku Festival’ also needs the help from the locals.” Doburoku is made by all the people here.


We bought Doburoku “Oku-no-oku” and the most popular product of Motai Workshop, “Iburi-dofu” for souvenir. We tasted them for dinner after we went home.
First, we have a sip of pink “Oku-no-oku” which use red koji. The rice floating on the top looks like the petal of cherry blossom. When you try a sip of it, it tastes sour-sweet like strawberry and a little bit of mild peach. Because of the sour-sweet taste, it tastes fresh and light, just like a young lady. You cannot help drinking more and more! Snack nibbling with sake is “Iburi-dofu”. The smell just like a smoked cheese. The two of them go so well that we are so satisfied.


When we visit Gujo Yamato next time, we would really want to go to the tofu and yuba shop “Oku-no-oku” and try tofu and yuba cuisine together with Doburoku “Oku-no-oku”.
The Doburoku “Oku-no-oku” we bought this time is also available at most liquor stores and roadside stations. Or order it directly from Motai Workshop.

Doburoku01 Doburoku03 Doburoku05 Doburoku07 Doburoku09
Doburoku02 Doburoku04 Doburoku06 Doburoku08


the next destination we are going to visit is “Mikawaya” which is making a Doburoku “Yawakami”. Growing rice on a hugh rice field and making Doburoku, “Mikawaya” is providing fusion of Japanese and stateless dishes. The name of their Doburoku “Yawakami” comes from reversing the name of the shop “Mikawaya”. Nice name!

When we arrive at the shop, the owner Mr Takeo Kawaai comes and greets us. “Let me show you how we make Doburoku.” While we are waiting, he gives us two cups of Kasujiru (Soup made with sake lees). Because today is a really cold day, they make us so warm. We are so moved by Mr Kawa’s generous hospitality. When we settle down, let us start making “Yawakami”!

Linkage of making Doburoku in every family
“Yawakami” made by “Mikawaya”

Doburoku10 Doburoku12 Doburoku14 Doburoku16 Doburoku18 Doburoku20
Doburoku11 Doburoku13 Doburoku15 Doburoku17 Doburoku19

Linkage of making Doburoku in every family
“Yawakami” made by “Mikawaya”


All the equipment needed for making “Yawakami” is all normal ones you can find in every house. It is the first time we experienced after visiting lots of sake brewers. Originally, Doburoku was made by family using simple tools. It is very rare!


Let us start making!
Put all the rice cooked by rice cooker into a transparent case and put lots of ice inside.


“The temperature of the rice needs to be around 50℃ when you put yeast and koji inside. It takes time if you leave it and cool it in ordinary temperature.” Mr Kawa tells us when we look surprised. It surprises us but it works very efficiently.


When it cools down to around 50℃, they put the yeast inside and start stirring it well. After that, they put rice koji and mix again.
It does not take much time to finish.


Keep it under temperature control to ensure that the quality stays good. Put it in a large fridge when finished. It will keep the taste much better.

Here does not like other sake brewer, they use traditional way to make Doburoku. Maybe other sake brewers making with lots of difficult procedures are originally making sake just like “Mikawaya” in this simple way.

“One of the advantages of Doburoku Special Zone is you do not need to make 6000L (Around 3333 bottles of one sho bottle ‘1.8L’) to apply for a sake brewery license. Because of this advantage, people can make a small amount of Doburoku with simple tools like us.” Said Mr Kawaai.

The reason of making Doburoku is Mr Kawaai found someone he met at “Doburoku Festival” making it inside a Oshiire (Japanese closet). He started making according to the manual and finding easier way to melt the rice. He made again and again with creativity and established the way he uses now.

He recommends tasting with miso soup or other local dishes using miso other that cheese. What Mr Kawaai says must be true as he serves Doburoku and food to his cutomers every day! We want to try them so much and decide to order from Mikawaya.


We get an extra “Fuki-miso (Japanese butterbur stalk with miso)” from the shop.

First, I try “Dry with green glutinous rice”. This “Otoko-sake (Masculine sake)” has a strong taste. When you have a sip of it, a flavor likes pineapple or muscat spreads inside your mouth but covered with mild unrefined sake. Next is “With red rice”. This is the opposite for the previous one with gorgeous feminine flavor. It makes me think of an image of a dignified woman. It tastes like grapefruit.

What surprised me the most is Doburoku go so well with “Fuki-miso”. The dry taste of Doburoku matches with miso. You can keep drinking only with Fuki-miso and Doburoku for hours. When we visit Mikawaya next time, we would like to try other dishes made by Mr Kawaai.

There are two more types of Doburoku other than “Yawakami” we bought this time. They are available at Mikawaya, “Roadside Station Kokindenjunosato Yamato” and “Kagaya Sake Shop.”



A unit, to promote the food culture in Japan leading to the future in the next 100 years, is formed by husband “A farmer and a maltster” facing with the blessings of nature and wife “A soy sauce sommelier and designer”. They aim to introduce Japanese food culture with fermented food supported by agriculture, fisheries and forestry.

Husband : Mr Takashi Miyamoto

He started a new koji venture in the Koji industry. He uses pesticide-free and chemical-free fertilizers in preparing miso. He was fascinated by the world of fermentation and started running a Koji shop in Nishihazu-cho, Nishio-shi, Aichi-ken. He also holds a Miso and Soysauce Study Circle for more than 1000 people a year.

Wife : Ms Keiko Kuroshima(Miyamoto)

A soy sauce, olive oil sommelier & designer. She was born in the soy sauce town of Shodoshima Island and grew up with the brewers. Based in Shodoshima, she continues to visit brewers nationwide and continues to connect people and things through design, writing, and recipe making. She published “Soy Sauce Book” from Genko Publishing.

Photographs by miyamoto