Niconico News covers the release of new home brew kit - for sake. Most of the first paragraph is taken up with a public service announcement that home brewing is illegal in Japan and so the kit is for use overseas only.
SACKETIO released the MiCURA Kotohajime Ver 1.1 kit for brewing craft seishu [overseas only!] on 29 August 2018.
Applications were accepted from overseas buyers in locations such as the USA, Canada, Hong Kong and Singapore until 5 September 2018.
The Kotohajime Ver 1.1 kit contains the basics: kōji rice, steamed rice, yeast and lactic acid, plus a "membership card", instructions and a cloth bag for pressing. Another version of the kit includes two clear plastic containers, one for brewing and one for pressing.
It uses a technique called kobō shikomi (酵母仕込み) to enable easy home brewing without the need to create a fermentation starter (moto or shubo/元・酒母). This involves using dried kōji and "α rice" (α米) for the steamed rice (kakemai, 掛米), which eliminates the steaming and kōji culturing steps of the process. Both approaches are apparently used in commercial production. [The rice is described on the product site as "pre-gelatinised".]
The kit is designed to produce around 4 litres of ginjō from rice polished to 60%, and allow home brewers to experience the taste of moromi and freshly pressed namazake. When the kit is prepared, the fermenting liquid bubbles from the first day and changes on a daily basis.
Although the action of yeast and kōji isn't immediately visible at the start of fermentation, they're hard at work producing alcohol, acidity, sweetness, umami and aroma. The balance of components changes at each stage of the brewing process, and this small kit lets the home brewer experience those changes on a daily basis and also learn to put their own spin on the combination of such simple ingredients.
The product site mentions possible issues such as temperature control in passing, along with plans for future development such as different rice varieties, yeast (including wine yeast), tools and equipment, and other versions including kōji culturing and using a shubo/moto.
MiCURA is the brainchild of Haruka Isawa, daughter of a brewing family. She's a qualified International Kikisake-shi [the qualification offered by the Sake Service Institute] and also completed a technical management training programme. After visiting New York at age 21 in connection with her family's brewery exports, she now works for them as export and overseas marketing manager.