Born June 9, 1962 (Gemini)

Hobbies: Running marathons. I've been doing it for about 10 years. As the Toji, I have to make many judgements and decisions, but I'm actually bad at deciding; I'm the type of person who always thinks in a complicated way. Running makes me think simple. I always run while thinking about a certain topic for the day.

How work affects my daily life: A Toji must use their five senses as they work. When I'm drinking sake, I keep it in my mouth and roll it around with my tongue, like a sommelier. While I'm doing that, I savor it with not only my sense of taste, but also smell. That means no matter what I'm drinking, I end up rolling it around my mouth (laughs). Even miso soup (laughs).

With a history of over 360 years, Kitagawa Honke is one of Fushimi’s long-established sake breweries. The Fushimi area, found in southern Kyoto, was once also known as "Fushimizu," which uses the Japanese character for "water." This was due to the abundance of quality water that was also ideal for brewing sake, which enabled the industry to flourish. Currently, Fushimi is one of Japan’s few remaining regions that produce sake.

A Toji - Mr Tashima’s job - is the head of sake production at a brewery, which is a separate position from the brewery owner. This important role involves determining the properties of the rice (the primary ingredient of sake) to be used, which changes depending on the season and environment, and adjusting how it is processed to yield a uniform quality. It is also necessary for a Toji to bring their brewing team together and raise morale.

My Pride as a Toji

My motto is something Edison once said: "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." Sake is made from rice. The condition of that rice changes every year, depending on the weather and environment. I make my decisions by checking the weather report and typhoon predictions, talking with rice producers a lot, and looking at the rice itself. But that still doesn't mean that I can produce sake that is always perfectly the same. There are many things that I won’t know until I give it a try. Of course, this sometimes ends in failure. I've never once thought that I'm good at brewing sake, so I hope to keep improving, even if it’s only a little bit.

Harmony Produces Good Sake – and Vice Versa

There's a certain expression in the sake industry: "wajou ryoushou." It means that good sake is only produced when there is harmony in the brewery. A Toji's job is to create this harmony. Without it, good sake cannot be made. I also take care to keep another saying in mind: "ryoushu wajou." This means that a place with good sake brings about harmony. The sake that we brew is sold by many people at places like agencies, restaurants, and wholesalers. They express our hopes and feelings and create value for our sake, so we're all making harmony together. And when you're having sake, you can open up and express what you truly feel because it's over drinks, right? Yes, good sake is something that produces harmony.

Kyoto, Tradition, and Innovation

After becoming Japan's capital city, Kyoto was its political and cultural center for a long time. Outstanding artisans gathered in the city, as well as connoisseurs of their arts. Japan's quintessential industries grew and developed during this period. I believe that Kyoto is a city where this history still lives on in our own lives, and that what remains today are the things used and appreciated for their worth through the generations. While the shape of these things changes due to the ideas of many, the essence remains the same. I think this also applies to Kyoto itself. Tradition and innovation; I believe that this is what makes Kyoto remarkable.

Nevertheless, even if new culture appears in the future, I want Kyoto to stay as a city with places where you can still find Japan’s traditional culture. What I’m going to say applies to everything, but the fundamentals are important, right? Having the fundamentals means that you can always go back to the beginning. I think it'd be nice for Kyoto to be a place that preserves its culture.

Food Culture and Brewing Sake

On December 20, 2013, washoku (traditional Japanese cuisine) was recognized as an Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO, meaning Japanese food culture has been recognized by the world. In Kyoto’s lengthy history, it has produced refined Kyoto-style cuisine and obanzai dishes using ingredients in season; it’s a place rooted in food culture. Sake has developed alongside this culture, so I really do want to protect it.

Kyoto was the first prefecture in all of Japan to adopt the "Kanpai with Sake Ordinance," which encourages people to make the first toast at functions with sake. This shows that preserving culture is deeply rooted in the area. Traditional culture won't last unless it's being used and appreciated, so I believe that we sake brewers must make each and every bottle while recognizing the great responsibility that we bear.



What is the purpose of the sugitama cedar ball hanging under the eaves of the brewery?
Every year, we hang up a new sugitama in place of the previous one. A sugitama with green branches outside the brewery signifies that new sake has been made. As the cedar branches wither, the ball changes from green to brown, a transformation that symbolizes that of the new sake. As the ball grows browner, it shows how the sake has matured with the passage of time.
Can you describe sake that is typical of Kyoto?
Meals in Kyoto are made with dashi (savory stock used to make miso soup, udon soup, and more). Meals and sake cannot be separated from the other, so we hope to make sake that won’t interrupt your meal. As a result, our sake doesn’t really have distinct features. However, we want to make sake that you can easily keep drinking. Another important element is water. We use soft water, so our goal is to produce sake that's soft, smooth, and mild. I suppose that would be sake typical of Kyoto.
What kind of spirit did the previous Toji pass down to you?
Back then, there was a time when he scolded me. Another person had made a mistake, and I was still young, so I got angry at them. That's when he told me, "Don't blame them. They understand more than anyone else that they’ve made a mistake, so it's your job to think about how you can help them to overcome it." In the end, a Toji is responsible for every part of sake brewing. Lots of things happen, including mistakes, but I always remember this: you mustn't blame others.


Price 200,000 yen
Number of participants per group 1-4 people
Available times 10:00 am to 1:00 pm / 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm
Cancellation policy 100% cancellation fee 7 days or more before the event date.
Payment method Credit card only
Application Requirements Participants must be at least 18 years old
(Children 12-18 years old may participate if accompanied by a parent or guardian)
Reservation deadline Until 7 days prior to the date of the dialogue
What will happen on the day 1. Pick up at hotel
2. Arrive at location of dialogue
3. Chat and explanation about dialogue
4. Dialogue with your chosen Kyotoite
5. Drop off at hotel


    Fields marked with an asterisk (*) are required.
    Name *
    Date of birth *
    Telephone Number *
    Preferred Language *
    E-mail Address *
    Number of participants in your group *
    Note: 4 people maximum per group
    Note: If you are booking for someone else, please fill in the name, contact info, and company (if applicable) of the person who will attend.

    When would you like to meet them?

    1st preference *
    2nd preference *
    3rd preference *

    I agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy

    This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.