Yeast Explores History

(2) The Founder, Saburouemon

Yeast “Old Well, you promised to tell me today about the founder of Daishichi.”
Old Well “The founder of Daishichi was born in 1721 as the son of Saburobe Yoshishige Ohta, who was of the 4th generation in the family of the youngest of the three Ohta brothers. His name was Saburouemon Yoshichika Ohta. The sake brewery managed by his father Yoshishige was doing very well and had grown into a large establishment which had even surpassed the brewery of the family head Chozaemon. Saburouemon was not the eldest son and therefore could choose between setting up his own brewery or assisting his brother. Saburouemon had married a daughter of the Imaizumi family of Honmachi, that owned the brewery in charge of brewing Oimatsu, the official sake for the castle lord. They also had a son. As his elder bother also had a son who would become the successor in the Saburobe family, he decided that this was an opportunity to set up his own independent family. That was in 1752 (Horeki 2), when he was 32 years of age. It was the right moment for independence, for there were every year good rice harvests and the business prospered. As soon as Saburouemon acquired sake stocks (shuzokabu), he bought a piece of land eight span wide in Takeda on the south side of Takene Street, with the Kannon Hill at the back, where he could obtain good water.”
Yeast “What are sake stocks?”
Old Well “Sake stocks are the right to set up a sake brewery. The license issued by the Nihonmatsu domain was also called ‘sakaboki.’ On a wooden board cut in the shape of a sake flask, the name of the licensed person was written, as well as the maximum amount of sake rice he could use. The amount brewed (kokudaka) and amount of tax to be paid were determined on the basis of the number of licenses one had. Also, it was not allowed to use any brewing vats other than those that had been authorized by a burnt-in mark. Many things were necessary for starting a sake business. Saburouemon probably relied on help from his father Saburobe Yoshishige. He must have started his own brewery by receiving a share of the brewers and employees, as well as brewing implements, from the main house. At that time it was already common to brew only in the cold season (kanzukuri), so he probably started in autumn after the rice was harvested. The brand of the sake was called ‘Oyama.’”
Yeast “Why Oyama?”
Old Well “The name Oyama, ‘large mountain,’ was probably based on Mt Fuji, or else on the name Oyamatsumi no kami, the god of the sake brewers. We don’t know for sure. At the time that Saburouemon became independent, the two year older Chozaemon Toyoharu, who had been adopted from a samurai family in Tamaru into the clan’s main family of Chozaemon, played a very large role. Chozaemon and Saburouemon often helped each other and were really like brothers. Yeast, have you seen the portrait of the 1st Generation? Although he was the young master from a long-established store, who had the right to bear a surname and wear a sword, his countenance is very strict. He is wearing a sober black haori-jacket and gray kimono. He was also a very religious person. On his portrait a eulogy by the 19th abbot of Zenshoji temple has been inscribed, claiming that the mirror of his heart was originally clear and free from stains. That is why the business set up by him has continued until the present day. Hey, what are you doing?”
Yeast “I’m saying a prayer: ‘Thank you ancestors, we too will do our best in a correct spirit.’”