Hanafubuki is the most popular sake rice in Aomori Prefecture, with the annual production of 1,000 tons or more.
A number of sake rice, such as the legendary rice called Kojo Nishiki, have been grown in Aomori. They have a high aptitude for brewing but some of them have less resistance to cold and disease. The Aomori Prefectural Agricultural Research Center carried out research and development to overcome the situation by crossbreeding Okuhomare (grown in Aomori Prefecture and adopted by Fukui Prefecture) and Fu-kei No.103 (Aomori Prefecture), and they finally developed Hanafubuki. Besides the stability of cultivation, Hanafubuki features its thousand-kernel weight: The bigger the figure is the more the shinpaku (white-core) manifestation becomes. It boasts 30 grams of thousand-kernel weight, which is the top level among all sake rice (the thousand-kernel weight of Yamadanishiki is 26-28g), thus it gained enormous trust from producers and brewing manufacturers. As it is slightly fragile and not suitable for highly polished rice, it has established its position as materials for junmaishu. Sake using Hanafubuki has a rich and refreshing taste.
Also, Hanaomoi was developed as rice suitable for ginjoshu and daiginjoshu by crossbreeding the Hanafubuki and Yamadanishiki (Hyogo Prefecture). It was listed as a recommended variety in 2002, and the seed rice has been offered exclusively to sake manufacturers in Aomori, which has resulted in a steady increase in the production. Sake fans will be fascinated in the future by this parent-child varieties, Hanafubuki and Hanaomoi, as sake rice representing Aomori.
(Photo by: Aomori Prefectural Industrial Technology Research Center, Agriculture Research Institute)