According to Ms. Ishikawa, the brewery was founded in 1863, at the end of the Edo period. The brewery at the time of its establishment was located on the other side of the Tama River, in the present Akiruno city, producing sake named “Yae Sakura.” In 1880 the brewery moved to its present location, and in 1933 the current brand, “Tamajiman,” was born.
From 1887, the brewery also produced lager beer called “Nihon Bakushu” (lit. Japan Beer) for two years. After that, beer had not been produced for a long time, but in 1998, it was revived for the first time in 111 years. Today, the company still brews craft beer with distinctive brands of “Tama no Megumi” and “Tokyo Blues.”
Tamajiman is carefully brewed by a very small number of 4.5 people, led by a young toji, or brewmaster. I wondered, What does 4.5 people mean? Is one person a trainee or something? I’m sorry, but I forgot to ask Ms. Ishikawa what she meant by that.
Tamajiman is made with the old-fashioned kanzukuri method, in which sake is brewed only in cold months from fall to early spring. In spite of the kanzukuri, the brewers are not seasonal workers but work year-round as full-time employees. “They’re in charge of various tasks in the company even during off-season just like now,” Ms. Ishikawa said. At the time of the tour, they were working on setting up koinobori, or carp streamers, preparing for the Children’s Day holiday in May.