Talk about sake
What is Toku A District?Among sake rice that is said to have more than 100 varieties, Yamada-Nishiki is one of the most suitable for sake brewing and has the highest reputation and yield. This sake rice has been cultivated in all parts of Japan, mainly in Hyogo Prefecture, where it was originally born, and locations that have been recognized as having the best environment for growing high quality Yamada-Nishiki are called Toku A districts (toku means special).
The classification by production area dates back to a system called muramai seido (literally meaning village-rice system), which started in Harima region, Hyogo in 1890’s. It was a transaction of good quality sake rice at a higher price than usual, in a form of contract between villages of sake rice farmers and sake brewers in Nadagogo and surrounding regions. The benefits were that rice producers could secure sales partners and sake brewers had a stable supply of good quality sake rice.
In 1964, the production areas were classified in cooperation with agricultural cooperatives in leading production areas. The areas were categorized into districts A to C based on four conditions, whether the area was located in an open valley from the east to west (partly to the north and south), had terraced rice fields on well-drained clay layers, got a lot of sunlight, and had a large temperature difference between day and night. Then, the district A was further divided into three sub-categories, Toku A-a to A-c. Currently, there is no Toku A-c, and Yamada Nishiki grown in Toku A-a and A-b districts are exclusively called rice produced in Toku A districts. This seems to be a stimulant not only for the farmers in Toku A districts, but also for other farmers to produce even higher quality rice.