The role model of sake brewing rice is Yamada Nishiki, which was born in 1936 at the Agricultural Research Institute in Hyogo prefecture where Nada, the region producing excellent sake, is located. It was born by a crossbreeding in 1923, between Yamadaho as mother and Tankan Wataribune, descendant of Omachi rice born in Okayama prefecture, as father, through many years of repeated selection.
Its features are: The grain is so large that it does not break even if 50% or more is cut; A shinpaku in the middle of the grain is so large that it allows koji mold to penetrate into the grain; The low protein content creates clear sake without undesirable odd flavor. Yamada Nishiki is just like a definition of ideal rice for sake brewing. It is especially perfect for brewing ginjoshu and has such popularity and reputation among brewers as, “Yamada Nishiki guarantees our success” or “No gold prize without Yamada Nishiki”. It is even called the king of sake rice.
Because of popularity, it is widely produced in Japan and ranks top of sake brewing rice in terms of the size of planted area. Yamada Nishiki grown in Hyogo prefecture, the birthplace, has a reputation for quality, and what is considered the best is the one produced in the district of “Toku A” (special A fields) located in the cities of Miki and Kato in the western part of Mt. Rokko. The environment of land containing clayey soil and having a big temperature difference between day and night in summertime might be perfect for producing rice. Though it used to be difficult to grow Yamada Nishiki in cold places, these years it is grown even in Yamagata and Miyagi prefectures. (Photo credit : Zen-Noh Hyogo)