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The Kobe Shinbun reports on a junmai ginjo sake made from a new varietal of sakamai (酒米) or sake-specific rice, Hyogo Nishiki.

The Shinomura brewery in Himeji city, Hyogo prefecture, are known for their Okuharima range of sake. They have also been commissioned by Hyogo Prefecture to attempt to export the sake, which made with rice grown in the prefecture. 

The Hyogo Nishiki varietal was developed from the legendary Yamada Nishiki and inherits many of its characteristics, and Shinomura brewery also commented that it’s easy to grow and produces good quality rice. They’re hoping to spread the word about it. 

Japan is trying to increase the area under cultivation for sake-specific rice all over the country and increase exports of sake in order to strengthen its competitiveness in agriculture, fisheries and forestry. Five areas, including Hyogo, Kyoto and Ishikawa, are working to achieve these aims.

Hyogo Nishiki was developed in 2011 as a Yamada Nishiki cross. It retains the quality of Yamada Nishiki but the plants are not as tall, making them less vulnerable to breaking. According to the prefecture, the Tatsuno city Mitsu-cho Mitsu-Kita Farmers’ Association started growing the varietal in earnest last year. The area under cultivation increased this year to 7 hectares (7,000 square metres), and there are plans to develop the project into a brand. 

The Shinomura brewery mills the Hyogo Nishiki rice to 55%, producing a sake with gentle sweetness and robust flavour. Owner Hiroaki Shinomura comments that it goes with a wide range of dishes, from Japanese to Western, and that he plans to carry on using it in his brewing.