日本酒を語る

Talk about sake

2020.06.16

Knowledge

GOHYAKUMANGOKU

The history of Gohyakumangoku starts from a crossbreeding of sake brewing rice Kikusui and Shin 200-Go at an agricultural experiment station in 1938 in Niigata prefecture, one of the major rice-producing prefectures. The research was suspended during the World War II but twenty years later in 1957 it was finally completed and named as a commemoration of Niigata’s rice yield surpassing the five million koku (unit of sake yield equal to 180L of sake). Though having a poor resistance to lodging and bacterial leaf blight, it has perfect characteristics for brewing rice, such as a large shinpaku (opaque part of the rice) with few proteins and lipids and high water absorptivity and high solubility when processed into moromi (fermentation mash). It is an early ripening rice as planted and harvested earlier than other varieties, which is an advantage for rice producers because they can harvest Gohyakumangoku first and then late-ripening rice in the next. Since the birth of Gohyakumangoku, the main production areas are Hokuriku region, however, it came to be grown in wide region which stretches from southern Tohoku area to the northern regions of Kyushu. In the early 1980’s, it became popular as to account for 50% of the whole sake rice. In 2001, Gohyakumangoku handed over the No.1 rank to Yamadanishiki in terms of planted areas, though it still consistently ranks one of top sake brewing rice. They say “If Yamadanishiki is yokozuna (king) of the west, then Gohyakumangoku is yokozuna of the east”, which shows the popularity and high yield of Gohyakumangoku. What attracts us about sake made from Gohyakumangoku is that it has a light and clear taste without undesirable flavors. This is why breweries from all over Japan are truly satisfied with Gohyakumangoku. (Photo credit : Niigata Agricultural Research Institute, Crop Research Center)