The Hitoyoshi basin lies in the southern part of Kumamoto on the border to Kagoshima prefecture, home to the gentle, clear waters of the Kuma River. Blessed by mother nature with its abundant waters, it is a place with top quality hot springs, rice shochu, delicious fish and enjoyable nature activities.
This region’s local specialty produce is Kuma Shochu; distilled liquor made from the rice and koji (rice-malt) nurtured by the high quality waters of the region. There are a total of 27 Kuma Shochu distilleries in the Hitoyoshi-Kuma region, each of which works diligently on producing their own uniquely characteristic flavour. Despite such simple ingredients, it boasts an abundance of flavours; some stored unrefined, some in clay pots, others in maturing casks; and can be drunk in a huge variety of ways, not to mention its limitless possibilities as a compliment to cuisine. Even if you were to experiment comparing these flavours and possibilities each and every day, you would never run out of enjoyment.
With Kuma Shochu at its centre, our mission as volunteers and members of the Kuma Shochu Distilleries Tourism Council is to share the charm of the Hitoyoshi-Kuma region with the outside world in the hopes of increasingly international tourism in the area.
WHAT IS KUMA SHOCHU
Kuma Shochu, a traditional Japanese rice spirit, originates from the Hitoyoshi Kuma region in Kumamoto Prefecture, on Kyushu Island in southern Japan. Its designation as a Geographical Indication is controlled and requires the use of local production and ingredients; the rice, kouji (malted-rice) and natural water of the area. Simple in ingredients yet rich in flavour, Kuma Shochu has been loved and enjoyed locally for more than 500 years.
KUMA SHOCHU DISTILLERIES
By touring the distilleries you can witness first-hand the ancient ‘kame-shikomi’ production method, where the shochu is stored in earthenware pots buried in the ground, giving it a distinct flavour. You can enjoy tasting and comparing the various matured shochus produced through this method, as well as experiencing the maturation process through the dipping of authentic “flavour sticks”, made from the barrels of stored shochu, directly into undiluted shochu. Moreover, we even offer a relaxing foot bath. Please come and see, taste, and feel the experience of Kuma Shochu for yourself.