Otokoyama Honten was founded in 1912, and for over 100 years we have continued to make sake in Kesennuma, one of Japan's most prominent port towns. Our main company building was built in 1932 and designated a national Tangible Cultural Property, but it was struck and destroyed by the tsunami triggered by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake. The tsunami stopped only a few meters shy of our sake brewery, which managed to emerge unscathed, and with the moromi (fermenting mash) that survived the disaster, we recommenced our sake brewing the day after the earthquake.
So many things were swept into the sea and lost, but this only strengthened the resolve on the part of local citizens that the surviving products of the region should not be allowed to disappear. Our community – and indeed people throughout the entire country – have encouraged us to contribute to the recovery effort by continuing our sake production, and this has made us all the more determined to persist in our efforts. This tragedy has once again reminded us of the importance of the bonds that link us to our region, our community, and all those who enjoy our sake, returning us to the roots that have sustained us from the very beginning.
Today, as always, we go about our daily business of brewing sake that makes the most of our local resources, complements the local cuisine, and is beloved by consumers in the local area, throughout the country, and beyond.
Located in Japan's northeastern Tohoku region, Kesennuma city lies on the Pacific Ocean and is home to one of Japan's busiest ports. Fishermen here harvest a rich bounty of fresh local fish, including bonito, tuna, shark and pacific saury, in addition to locally cultivated oysters and scallops. A trip to Kesennuma is not complete without a taste of the delicious local seafood, and whether you prefer sushi, sashimi or grilled fish, you will find plenty to enjoy.
The Kesennuma coastline also constitutes a part of the Sanriku Geopark, Japan's largest geopark, and the region as a whole is blessed with an abundance of nature. The area serves as a base for coastal, offshore and deep-sea fishing, in addition to fish-farming, and with its accompanying industries of shipbuilding and seafood processing, it functions as an important hub for the marine products industry as a whole. This picturesque port town, with a population of around 65,000, attracts tourists year-round with its beautiful environment and bountiful seafood. With its relatively cool summers and warm winters, visitors will find Kesennuma a pleasant destination in any season.
A wooden three-story building with exterior walls featuring a pebbled finish, our Otokoyama Honten Sakanamachi shop is a nationally-registered Tangible Cultural Property. It was a well-known landmark in Kesennuma’s Naiwan bay area for many years, but the first and second floors collapsed when the building was struck by the tsunami which followed the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, leaving only the third floor intact. We preserved the remaining part of the building for several years with no specific plans for its future, but as the city slowly recovered after the earthquake, we received support and encouragement from both global foundations and local citizens urging us to restore this building which had served as a cultural symbol of Kesennuma.
Reconstructing a nearly century-old building of which only the third floor remained was an arduous undertaking. However, the dedicated efforts of many architects and carpenters led to its successful restoration, and in July 2020, nine years and four months after the Great East Japan Earthquake, the Otokoyama Honten Sakanamachi shop reopened on the same street where it had stood before the earthquake. This story was covered by numerous news outlets, and many people from throughout Japan have since visited our shop, which stands anew as a proud element of the newly-invigorated Kesennuma Naiwan bay area landscape.
This building is a part of Kesennuma’s history, as well as a part of the city’s collective memory. It now serves as a focal point in a city that is gaining new energy and spirit, not only functioning as a retail shop where Otokoyama Honten sakes can be tasted and purchased, but also featuring a gallery space exploring Kesennuma’s history and culture which is open free of charge to the public. We look forward to welcoming many more visitors to our Sakanamachi shop, and if you’re in the area, we hope you’ll take the time to stop by.
Wooden three-story structure built in the Art Deco style and featuring a parapet, nationally-registered Tangible Cultural Property, municipally-designated Cultural Property
Built in 1930, severely damaged in 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, restored and reopened in 2020
1st floor: retail shop and tasting area
3rd floor: gallery (free admission)
Hours: 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Closed on Tuesdays
*We hope you’ll also take the opportunity to visit the Otokoyama Honten Sake Brewery and Visitor Center, which are only a three-minute walk from the Sakanamachi shop. Prior reservations are required for sake brewery tours, so please click below for more information.
Only three minutes by foot from our Sakanamachi shop, a traditional Japanese building which now serves as our Visitor Center is located next to the Otokoyama Honten sake brewery. Originally built in 1932 and now a nationally-registered Tangible Cultural Property, this wooden one-story structure is characterized by its narrow wooden pillars and elegant architectural style. This building was used to welcome government officials during the period before the Second World War, and was also utilized as a residence in the postwar years.
Visitors can find information about Otokoyama Honten sakes here, and our products are also available for tasting and purchase. If you have the opportunity to come out to our Sakanamachi shop, we hope you’ll also take the time to drop by our Visitor Center.
Wooden one-story building with a traditional tiled roof, built in 1932, nationally-registered Tangible Cultural Property
Hours: 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Closed on Sundays and holidays
*Prior reservations are required for sake brewery tours.
Please click below for more information.
We offer tours of our sake brewery that give visitors a look at our brewing process, our history and the philosophy behind our sake production. We are happy to give both group and individual tours.