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The Mainichi newspaper reports on a town in Yamaguchi Prefecture that filled in the missing link to allow it to produce its own sake from harvest through to brewing.

The Abu region around the city of Hagi grows sake-specific rice, specifically the legendary Yamada Nishiki, and has its own breweries too. What it didn’t have until recently was the facilities to mill the locally grown rice and keep the whole supply and processing chain inside the area.

The area’s 12 agricultural produce corporations and six breweries joined forces to found the Hagi Sakamai Migaki Kyōdōkumiai (萩酒米みがき協同組合, Hagi Sake-Specific Rice Polishing Cooperative) and purchased two large rice polishing machines. They take up 560 square meters and cost around JPY 123,000,000.

All their efforts paid off on 13 April 2018 with the opening ceremony for the Hagi Sakamai Tousei Kōjō (萩酒米とう精工場, Hagi Sake-Specific Rice Polishing Plant) which is intended to help create a Hagi-Abu sake brand.

Sake from the area is popular domestically, but until now the milling required to remove the proteins and lipids in the outer layers that create zatsumi (雑味, coarse or off-flavours) was outsourced to a company in Kurume city in Fukuoka Prefecture. The cooperative plans to put the new machines to good use, with estimates of 158 tons of rice to be polished in FY 2018, and 194 tons in FY 2019 (where the Japanese financial year runs April to March).