Taisho is a pretty town in the mountains along the Shimanto River. It was named after the Emperor Taisho, who provided funds for rebuilding the town after a fire, and many of the buildings date from his reign in the early 20th century.
The town is home to one of Japan’s more unusual breweries, Mutemuka, which means ‘no hands, no fame’. It’s a common conceit of sake brewers that it’s not them that makes the sake. Rather it’s the microorganisms who do the real work, while they just lend a helping hand. At Mutemuka, the aim is to leave as much of the work to the microorganisms as possible, without any human intervention, producing sake without pursuing fame.
Rather than using one of the types of rice grown specifically for brewing sake, Mutemuka uses the locally produced table rice. But the brewery is determined to protect the local environment, especially the water which is essential for making sake, and so no chemical pesticides or fertilizer are used to grow the rice. Instead, the farmers contracted to produce the rice use a mulch made of natural washi paper. This protects the rice, fertilizing the soil when it decays.
Another difference is that, unlike most breweries which devote considerable resources to producing the premium ginjo style of refined sake known for its delicate flavour, Mutemuka produces junmai types exclusively. Junmai tends to be more robust than ginjo, but Mutemuka bottles most of its product unfiltered and unpasteurized, which results in rustic sake of unforgettable character. This sake is brewed to match the earthy produce of the mountains of Kochi rather than the sea.
Although its sake is highly prized, he majority of Mutemuka’s produce is shochu made using chestnuts. The chestnuts are pureed, fermented, and then distilled to produce a spirit with the sweet aroma of chestnuts.
Mutemuka welcomes visitors, and the staff are happy to show you around the brewery. In the brewery shop, you’re free to taste all of their products and discover your favourite.
Another thing that sets this brewery apart are the glass cases of plastic manga and anime figurines from the nearby Kaiyodo Hobby Museum.
Name in Japanese: 無手無冠
Address: 452 Taisho, Shimanto, Takaoka District, Kochi 786-0301