Just In 👉 Rampur Readies Kohinoor Reserve Indian Dark Rum M...

Special Features

Inside Konohanano Brewery: Crafting Doburoku With The Women Brewing Up Tokyo’s Craft Sake Scene


Tucked away, or rather, hidden in plain sight, lies an unassuming bar called ALL (W)RIGHT Sake Place. Amidst the industrial brick walls, wood and black metal, fridges lined with doburoku – an opaque white, completely unfiltered, ancient style of sake – gives you a hint that this isn’t your typical sake bar.

When the sun sets, it’s a cosy yet edgy vibe. Warm spotlights shine upon stainless steel tanks, revealing an entire brewery through long glass windows. Along the pathway, a few bulky machines, large cheesecloths and bags of rice fill the space. At the entrance, you notice a koji muro (rice malt preparation room), just barely larger than an old school telephone booth. A tiny light emits a soft glow casting shadows on the cloths covering inoculated koji rice.



You see, this place is more than just a bar; it’s a craft sake brewery . Konohanano Brewery (木花之醸造所) is a member of the Japan Craft Sake Breweries Association. Established in June 2020, this modern nano-brewery in Komagata (near Asakusa) is already emerging as a forerunner of Tokyo’s doburoku and craft sake scene.



Depending on the time of your visit, you might catch a glimpse of a young lady stirring one of the moromi (fermentation) tanks through the window. Her name’s Yuduki Kimura, and she is Konohanano’s toji (brewmaster).

Kimura- san embodies warmth, determination and an unwavering passion as a young toji. She was fascinated early on by the role of micro-organisms in sake fermentation and their ability to yield an almost limitless array of expressions in aroma and taste. This curiosity led her to pursue sake brewing at university. After graduation, she took on a role in a company that deals in sake yeast. Yet, her fervent love for sake brewing remained unsatiated.

[Translated]: “Although it was a job related to sake production, I couldn’t suppress my desire to create the kind of sake I imagined, so I impulsively chose the path of a brewer.”

As such, she began her career as Konohanano’s toji on January 2023.



To Kimura-san, brewing doburoku means creating a sustainable, waste-free sake. Every component and ingredient of the sake brewing process becomes doubly important. For doburoku, taste and texture don’t stem from the liquid and alcohol alone; but from every single grain of koji, yeast and rice suspended throughout the drink, creating its signature porridge-esque appearance. In contrast to traditional clear sake, every ingredient takes on an incredibly prominent role in crafting doburoku’s exciting, unrefined and comforting allure.

[Translated]: “I love making koji.” Kimura-san expresses. “The power of koji, which takes about 48 hours to make, affects such a significant part of sake brewing. That’s very attractive to me.”



You might also encounter another lady engrossed in sake brewing books. In a timely manner, she tends to the koji muro, her senses finely attuned in as she feels, breaks apart and adjusts the koji. Meet Giulia Maglio, a contract kurabito (brewery worker), SSA Sake Educator and a co-host on the bi-weekly podcast Sake Unplugged. Giulia moved from Italy to Japan about 8 years ago, initially working as a tour guide. Delving into Japanese food culture as part of her studies, she found her way to sake, and the more she explored it across Japan, the greater her curiosity grew, leading to a deep passion for sake and its craftsmanship. This sentiment resonates with any sake lover.



Giulia-san is a contract kurabito. Traditionally, kurabito were all contract workers – farmers, during the wintertime could not grow rice and would find work at sake breweries as sake production ramped up during the cold months. Nowadays, this isn’t the case as often but in a way, Guilia- san­ still hops from brewery to brewery, accumulating vast experiences and skills in sake making.

“Sake making is about balancing sensitivity and physical strength” Giulia- san notes. “You have to understand and notice the weather conditions, rice conditions and to be adaptable to every little change that you can encounter while brewing.”



“What I love most about sake brewing is that while learning about sake, I get to learn about myself. Sake brewing is helping me become a better person, and it made me a stronger person than I was, or that I thought I was.”

Prior to Konohanano, she worked for Itakura Brewery in Shimane. I’ve also learned that she had made a promise to Tenon Brewery, to which she’ll be going to work for a period before returning to Konohanano again.



“Brewing doburoku is a natural path for me. Since doburoku is sake’s grandfather, it makes sense for me to want to explore this world as well. Also, often doburoku is viewed as a simplified version of sake but in actuality is a very different process.”



As you stroll past the brewery, a shy smile and a gentle bow welcomes you to the bar. Seated on the luxurious leather sofa in the middle, a collection of Sakura Mochi doburoku ages gracefully against the wall, accompanied by large and small wooden barrels of French Oak, Chestnut and Cherry Blossom Oak.

She hands you a menu and drink list. You might ask for an English menu instead, or perhaps “ Osusume wa nan desuka? (What’s your recommendations?)” is your go-to phrase. A doburoku tasting flight arrives moments after, along with a dish of their special spicy miso chicken. Man, I miss their food.



That lady behind the bar is Saruta Ayami. She’s a Japan Sommelier Association Diploma holder and a writer for SAKE TIMES JP. She tells her story of discovering sake through her grandmother who lives in Chiba Prefecture. Iwanoi, by Iwase Shuzo from the town of Onjuku was the family’s sake of choice, and as she grew older, she too found herself down the rabbit-hole of the sake realm.

[Translated]: “I find doburoku interesting because it’s a traditional sake that was made as an offering to the gods since the ancient times in Japan.”

Whilst Ayami-san is known for serving at the bar, in autumn of 2023, she began learning to brew doburoku in small batches under the guidance of Kimura-san too. Her most recent creation, the Nectarine doburoku from the Adult Nectar Series, incorporating a massive amount of fresh Japanese nectarines, was admittedly really darn good.



[Translated]: “I love every aspect [of doburoku brewing], even just from washing the rice”. “If I had to choose one aspect, it would be stirring the moromi tanks daily.”

“It feels like having a conversation with the sake, asking, ‘How are you feeling today?’”

I chuckled. Although I’m no professional, I occasionally home-brew some doburoku, and I too find myself speaking to the pot of doburoku as I stir it. Tending to the moromi as it ferments feels like nurturing a child. In a way, you guide nature’s hand as the miracle of micro-organisms shape the brew, your actions but merely a tool to express your emotions as you guide fermentation towards the best outcome.



Sharing a bottle of sake with Ayami-san is insightful and inspiring. There are genuine emotional connections to the land, its history and culture as she evokes the way of life of the people around the brewery through the taste of sake. Living in Singapore, it’s challenging to make those same connections due to the differences in our societies and cultures. However, I believe that Konohanano’s brewing ethos seeks to close that gap by brewing craft sakes that speak to the world in a genuine, almost literal way.

Through doburoku, we enjoy an untampered presentation of rice – a symbol of Japan’s pride that relatably connects all cultures throughout Asia. Producing identifiable concept brews, such as the Sakura Mochi doburoku in Spring invokes feelings of standing in the Ueno Sakura Matsuri enjoying the full bloom with a snack in hand.

Likewise, their latest Dashi Soup Punch doburoku, paying homage to a Winter favourite, the dashiwari sake (sake mixed with Japanese soup broth), playfully incorporates an umeboshi twist, whisking you away to the cold snowy mountains of Japan alongside glass of warm sake and a bowl of hot oden. Drinking Konohanano’s craft sake is always an experience that touches the heart meaningfully, even more so than most traditional sakes I have tried over the years of my career.

“If you ever come to Asakusa, I would be delighted if you could visit our brewery.” Ayami-san chimes in.



Words by:

Gerard Alexis 
Chef-Owner and Sake Sommelier of OMU NOMU Craft Sake & Raw Bar, 
Representing the Japan Craft Sake Breweries Association in Singapore, 
Doburoku Lover (Insta: @alexdrinkscraftsake)


P. S.:

To grab a glass of Konohanano’s doburoku and much more in the ways of craft sake, please visit OMU NOMU Craft Sake & Raw Bar:

OMU NOMU Craft Sake & Raw Bar
302 Beach Road, #01-08
Concourse Skyline S199600
Mondays – Saturdays at 12-2:30pm, 5:30-12am
https://omunomu.sg (Insta: @omunomu.sg)


If you’d like to visit Konohanano Brewery/All(W)right Sake Place, please visit:

ALL (W)RIGHT -sake place-
〒111-0043 Tokyo, Taito City, Komagata, 2 Chome−5−5小宮ビル B1木花之醸造所内
The closest Metro Stations would be Tawaramachi, or Asakusa on the Ginza Line.
A mere short walk from Senso-ji Temple.
https://konohanano-brewery.com/ (Insta: @allwright_tokyo)
Please check socials for opening hours,
for more info please feel free to DM the writer on Instagram @alexdrinkscraftsake