Sake for Everyone’s Bright Future—Atsuhide Kato and Born

Mitsue “Mimi” Islas-Hosokawa

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    Atsuhide Kato is an 11th-generation brewery president at Katoukichibee Shouten. With over 160 years of history, the brewery has been making high quality sake that are safe enough to be kosher certified worldwide. Their famous Born series is one of the Tippsy community’s favorite sake. In this spotlight, Atsuhide shares his joy of sake making and shows you some features of his brewery that are continuously improved.

    Focusing on additive-free sake making

    Mimi: Your Born series is enjoyed globally! It is also known for one of the few sake brands that are kosher certified in Japan. What made you decide to make the kosher certified sake?

    Atsuhide: We actually did not initially try to make a special sake that would be kosher certified. Simply, we have only been making premium junmai sake without any additives. That everlasting effort led all of our sake to be KLBD Kosher certified—and our brewery was the first sake brewery to become KLBD certified in Japan.

    Mimi: What are the differences between sake that are made in a kosher certified brewery and other typical breweries?

    Atsuhide: Much of the sake made in a typical sake brewery would contain additives.* This is a mainstream sake-making method today. However, at our brewery, we never add any extra ingredients.

    *Sake with additives will not be premium sake, but futsushu. Tippsy only carries a few sake in the futsushu category and the majority of our collection is premium sake with no additives.


    Tenku-gura (天空蔵), where sake ingredients are fermented as Mozart is being played 24/7. | Courtesy of Katoukichibee Shouten.

    Sake fermented while listening to Mozart

    Mimi: We have a question from Tippsy Sake Club (Tippsy’s private Facebook group) members! We heard that your brewery plays Mozart 24/7 as a part of the sake brewing process. They are curious to know the secrets behind this unique practice!

    Atsuhide: Some vintners in Europe have established this winemaking method using vibration to improve the fermentation process. We were one of the first sake breweries to implement that practice at the entire brewery by playing Mozart. In order to accurately recreate the high and low pitch that are unhearable to human ears, we use the recording of an actual orchestra and play it on 50 high-tech Bose speakers inside the brewery. We picked Mozart as his songs usually have a range of two octaves which is more effective than other songs.

    Atsuhide showing Tenku-gura—you can even listen to Mozart!

    The best quality of sake to create joy in the lives of customers

    Mimi: Born series has received countless awards at appraisals and competitions both in Japan and overseas. What is your approach to selling your sake overseas?

    Atsuhide: We ensure that we only use the best quality ingredients to make our sake. Our rice comes from our partner rice farms which is known for its first-class quality in Japan. Natural water drawn from over 600 ft beneath the ground paired with in-house cultured yeast creates a perfectly additive-free sake. We age this sake at 14 °F for at least one year (some sake are aged over 10 years) so that we can send out sake that carries the “real” deliciousness to the customers.

    Carefully polished rice is steamed.

    Mimi: Could you share your goals for 2021?

    Atsuhide: I have always aimed to spread our Born to the world. With the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic last year which impacted many aspects of our lives globally, we strive to connect our proud Born sake to a bright future. As we appreciate being able to have a happy life, we will continue to work hard to make sake that gives joy and healing to people.

    Mimi: Born is one of the Tippsy community’s favorites and I believe that it already is giving great joy to many!

    Atsuhide: One of the things that I did when I became the brewery president at Katoukichibee Shouten is to change the spelling of Born. It used to be “B-O-N” but we decided to change it to “B-O-R-N” with a wish that a bright future will be born to every single person who enjoys Born sake.

    Mimi: What a wonderful message! Lastly, what does sake mean to you?

    Atsuhide: My life itself. Born is made with nature’s blessings and many supporters including our partner farmers. It is a gift from the gods. I hope to keep raising my sake with care and spread the beauty of Japan to the world through Born.

    Mitsue “Mimi” Islas-Hosokawa

    Mitsue “Mimi” Islas-Hosokawa

    Mimi was born and raised in Osaka, Japan. She grew up seeing her dad enjoying a cup of sake every night as his “ritual,” and she believes in the mystical powers of sake to make any ordinary day a special one. As a sake beginner, she is passionate to learn about sake with her fellow Tippsy Community members.

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