In recent years, a decline in domestic demand for sake has led to the closing down of many local small-scale sake breweries, and subsequently, a rise in abandoned rice paddies in rural Japan. As part of our mission to preserve and showcase “assets we hope to preserve for future generations” to the world – and our belief that Japanese sake is certainly such an asset – we entered into the sake brewing industry.

suginomori brewery

narai is brewed with locally produced rice from Azumino

In March 2021, Kiraku encountered Suginomori Shuzo – the highest altitude brewery in Japan, located in the historic town of Narai-juku, Nagano, an Important Preservation District for Groups of Traditional Buildings. The brewery, established in 1793, had closed its doors and remained dormant since 2012. Inspired by the rich history of the brewery and driven by a hope to revive it, Kiraku decided to acquire Suginomori Shuzo KK, the company that had operated the brewery. The renovation work of the brewery and purchasing of equipment began in April 2021. The renovation was completed in August 2021. At the same time, we obtained a loan from a local Nagano bank to raise funds for the project.


suginomori brewery is located within the grounds of the old Suginomori Shuzo, now also partly renovated into an accommodation facility called BYAKU Narai, established jointly by Takenaka Corporation and Shiojiri City Forestry Corporation and operated by Salt Terminal Co. Ltd. Rebranding Suginomori Shuzo as suginomori brewery, we are now brewing a new original Japanese sake brand ‘narai.’


With the goal of creating a valuable and sustainable sake business, we took various unique approaches to our business.

suginomori brewery was restored as a microbrewery of about 250 sqm – less than half the size of the old Suginomori Shuzo. While most sake breweries mass produce in large tanks of 3,000 to 8,000 liters, we have scaled down to tanks of between 900 and 1,800 liters to effectively utilize the limited space. Further, unlike typical breweries where each part of the brewing process is divided into different jobs, our brewery depends entirely on our single toji (master brewer) for each step of the brewing process – creating a handcrafted sake of premium quality.

Whereas most breweries only produce through the winter months, suginomori brewery has introduced shiki-jozo, or year-round brewing, thanks to a temperature-controlled room that can reproduce the environment of the winter months. This makes it possible to deliver fresh narai sake to our customers all year-round, while also providing a stable and sustainable work environment for our employees.

While consumption of sake in Japan has been decreasing year by year, the popularity of premium sake has been rising overseas (sake exports increased +166% YoY in 2021). We have formed our marketing strategy to reach this overseas demand. We have also attempted to increase operational efficiency of back office functions, optimizing distribution channels and logistics to sell directly to our customers.

As the brewery is located within the accommodation facility BYAKU Narai, we have also created the concept of a “visible brewery” in which guests and visitors can see into the brewery through the windows of the hotel and restaurant areas. Going forward, we plan to curate special brewery tours and experiences that can only be enjoyed exclusively at suginomori brewery.