This project introduces various traditional industries of Okayama Prefecture in western Japan that have been inherited and have made innovations.Among these industries is Omachi rice (classified as “shuzo koteki-mai”, or rice suitable for brewing sake) from Okayama Prefecture, which occupies more than 90% of the market share in Japan. Additionally, there is “Okayama sake”, made from Omachi rice. Bizen ware is regarded as one of the six ancient kilns representing Japan. These three products representing industries in Okayama Prefecture are notable as top quality products in Japan. This project will promote the innovative combination of these three products, and will promote the establishment of this new and appealing brand overseas.
Rice used for brewing Japanese sake is different from ordinary rice: The kernels are larger, retain a white core(Shin-paku) even after polishing, and have a high viscosity that melds well with the sake mash. Omachi rice, grown in Okayama Prefecture, is the representative variety of this type of rice and is said to be the basis of delicious sake. Some other excellent varieties include “Yamada Nishiki” and “Gohyakumangoku”; these are other strains of the Omachi variety and account for 2/3 of the rice currently used in sake production. Okayama Prefecture is blessed with natural conditions such as three clean, large rivers that flow from northern forested areas, and a temperate inland coastal climate; it also has some of the oldest history of rice production, dating back to 3,500 years. Additionally, Okayama Prefecture has a history of iron production dating to ancient times. Iron mining in mountainous areas caused iron and soil to be washed into estuaries, forming fertile fields. On the mountain slopes that remained after mining, “Sendmaida”, or “1,000-stepped rice fields” were made. Due to the use of iron tools, both field efficiency and rice production increased. In these ways the production of rice in Okayama increased explosively; “Okayama, land of Rice” became “Okayama, land of Sake”, and the area became a disseminating point for sake-making techniques.