(THISIS)SHIZEN® ディスイズシゼン

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Matsumoto Sake Brewing Co., Ltd.


Nature and human - Living and changing

自然も人も。 変化に合わせて生きていく


Nature = rice. The first thing that came to my mind when planning the lineup for (THISIS)SHIZEN was the presence of rice. For the old Japanese rice was money, and the Japanese live on rice. In between that there was “sake”, I thought. Sake made from rice cultivated in fields is the very value of Japanese nature. That’s why I wanted to make (THISIS)SHIZEN sake. This wish spun good connections, and in collaboration with Matsumoto Sake Brewery, the long-standing brewery from Kyoto, exclusively brewed sake for (THISIS)SHIZEN came true. Marking the 230 years anniversary next year, it is surely impossible to tell in a single sentence about the nature that they have been working with and confronting for a long history of time.


Seeing the nature of nature
in the unnatural city Kyoto

Nature is ordinary and natural, like air. But in my life I think it's actually the most important thing. Rather than imposing that most important thing, I think that if everyone lives in their everyday life with consciousness and appreciation for its value, it will surely be good for nature and people. Matsumoto Shuzo moved from Kyoto city to this place (Fushimi) in 1923, but the reason was water. The water that soaks into the mountains is a characteristic of the Kyoto basin, moving southwest toward Osaka. First of all, the tofu shops and restaurants in Kyoto city use it, we make sake with the unused water, and the distillery in Osaka makes whiskey with the water we do not use… There is a natural providence of…. It has been around for thousands of years, and we are one of them. But there is no nature in Kyoto. 300,000 people have lived and cut down trees for 1200 years, and in a place where there is no material, as a gift, delicious ingredients, cloths, techniques and people have to be prepared, and the natural flow of Kyoto That's why more and more people came in from outside. Kyoto vegetables were originally called "Kyoto vegetables" because they grew delicious vegetables from outside Kyoto and grew up in Kyoto. After all, the only thing in Kyoto that has come from outside is a kind of unnatural city. However, because it is surrounded by mountain

— As your slogan "No technology is better than raw materials” implies, you make sake locally in Kyoto focusing on raw materials and technology. The relationship between nature and people is inseparable. How do you perceive nature now in terms of the sake brewing?


People change adjusting to nature
Matsumoto brewery’s idea of
“natural” sake

What is our “natural” sake
These days, the traditional concept of making sake is breaking down at a tremendous speed. In the past a sake brewer was just supposed to make sake. But this way of thinking has changed in the past 5-10 years. Today it’s nothing special that you can make sake that tastes decent. You will be asked “and then?” So you have to work out your own branding and business model in order to sell. That didn’t seem very natural to me. Even if you make a model saying “this the way our sake is “, you will eventually change as a sake brewer because you are a human. Do you have to push through the model because you have to sell, even if you felt that something was not quite right? Like that I was really in doubt for a period of time. But at that time, one person told me that I had to move the axis. For example, in soccer, one step of a Japanese player and one step of a foreign player are completely different, so you have to move the pivot leg to win. I was eased when I applied that idea into my sake brewing. I could be just the way I was. Because nature changes, people should also change accordingly.
When you try to express a natural state with sake, many people think that letting it ferment without manipulating does the job. But don’t think that’s natural, that's just leaving it alone. Rather than just keeping the blessings of nature as they are, natural sake is about cutting out and excavating beautiful things that come out of nature. And I think that is my job. Only by expressing that beauty can nature be sublimated as something that people appreciate in their lives. In Matsumoto Sake Brewery, we are celebrating our 230th anniversary next year. As we keep making sake in Kyoto for 230 years, in that process human sensitivity changes. Customers change as well as brewers like us. I believe that what is born in the process of change is good for everyone and nature, while making our job worthwhile and valuable. It’s three way satisfaction (a saying of business philosophy from Edo period - three ways being seller, buyer and society). I think business can continue only when good feelings are connected like that.

— This collaboration was realized through sympathy with the concept of (THISIS)SHIZEN. What is the image of (THISIS)SHIZEN considered by Matsumoto Shuzo?


(THISIS)SHIZEN is a place where the beauty of human activity adds value to nature

What we want to do in (THISIS)SHIZEN is to communicate what everyone knows universally in a way that is easy to understand and sympathise with. I think many people know what nature is. But in a real sense, I don't think you can see the nature which is concealed within your own environment. I feel that what is most needed right now is to live without putting your surroundings and sensations into boxes. Because we live in a mass of matter, meeting and talking with people in this way, and communicating our intentions and feelings in words and things are natural activities in it selves. And I think the point is whether you can make people think that these activities are beautiful. Sake, pottery, plants, etc., I want people to touch what is gathered in (THISIS)SHIZEN and cut out the nature around them, I want them to bring home a value more than its cost. And they might come back if they feel like returning to nature again.
And nature feels good on your body, doesn’t it? After all, everyone comes back to a place full of such elements. Kind of like, if there was a park why not lay for a little while. I hope (THISIS)SHIZEN will be such a space. A place you can stop by easily in the middle of Karasuma Oike. I think that will make it easier to enter (THISIS)SHIZEN and make Kyoto itself even more exciting. I want it to be a place where people who live in nature of Kyoto can communicate what parts of nature they value, what they are trying to do with that, and what they want to express, in a way that people understand.

Photography by Kohei Yamamoto


Hidehiko Matsumoto
Matsumoto Brewery Director
/ Chief sake brewer
Born in Kyoto in 1982. He won nationwide in rugby when he was in high school. Afterwards he went to a college in Kanagawa where he aspired to become a professional DJ for a period of time. After graduating from the Department of Brewing at the Tokyo University of Agriculture, he interned at Manjo Brewery in Nagoya before returning to his hometown of Matsumoto Sake Brewery in 2007, at the age of 26. As a chief brewer, he radically changed the traditional sake brewing.



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