The founder of Shichiken, Ibei Nakaya, fell in love with the quality of Hakushu water on his way to Edo (today’s Tokyo) from Takatō in Nagano prefecture where his family had been brewing sake for generations. He branched out from the Kitahara family to start sake brewing in Daigahara on Koshu Kaido (one of the famous Five Routes connecting Edo to the outer provinces) in Yamanashi prefecture.
The fifth-generation brewery owner, Iheinobushige Kitahara, received a pair of fanlights from the daimyo of Takatō Domain, Surugano-kami Naito, as a gift to celebrate the completion of the new main building of the brewery. The fanlights were made by Senshirō Tatekawa, a celebrated carpentry sculptor who specialized in shrines and temples. The title of the fanlights were “Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove” (“Chikurin no Shichiken” in Japanese), which is the origin of the current name, “Shichiken.”
During the Meiji Emperor’s imperial tour through Yamanashi, Mie, and Kyoto prefectures, the inner parlor of Shichiken’s main building was chosen as a lodging, or “Anzaisho,” to accommodate an imperial visit. The sixth-generation brewery owner, Ensei Kitahara, served as a chamberlain for one night. As an expression of gratitude, “White Habutai” (two rolls of white smooth silk fabric) and 50 yen were gifted by the Emperor.
The 10th generation brewery owner, Kosaburō Kitahara, established the corporation Yamanashi Meijo Co., Ltd. and served as its first president. He actively managed the business and successfully built up the prefecture’s largest sake business.
The “Anzaisho” in the inner parlor of Shichiken’s main building where the Meiji Emperor stayed is designated as a historical landmark by the Ministry of Education (presently the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology).
The 11th generation brewery owner, Shinji Kitahara, built the “Seiwakura” brewery in order to produce a better, more unique sake. This led to significant improvements in the brewing techniques and quality of Shichiken’s sake.
The 12th generation brewery owner, Hyogo Kitahara, built a new bottling facility and product warehouse, and established the current structure of Yamanashi Meijo Co., Ltd.
Discontinued Futsū-shu (ordinary table sake) and changed all Shichiken’s sake to be Toketei Meishō-shu, with specific classification names distinguished by the degree to which the rice has been polished and the added percentage of brewer’s alcohol.
Established an agriculture limited company, Onakaya, to start cultivating Shichiken’s high-quality sake rice in cooperation with local farmers.
Opened Shichiken’s directly managed restaurant “Daimin” to explore new possibilities for pairing sake and food by serving seasonal dishes made with local ingredients.
Abolished the traditional Toji system where the brewery owner and master brewer come from separate families. Ryogo Kitahara, who comes from the family that owns the brewery, was appointed as the master brewer.
Spent five years renewing the brewing facility Seiwakura with the latest equipment, establishing a stable environment for producing high-quality sake.
Implemented the Shichiken Branding Strategy where newly designed products were introduced with new labels and a lineup that better suits the quality of our sake.
After five years of development, introduced “Yamano Kasumi” (2015), “Hoshino Kagayaki” (2016), and “Morino Kanade” (2017), Shichiken’s original and exceptional sparkling sake with second fermentation in the bottle.
Tsushima Kitahara was appointed CEO and the master brewer Ryogo Kitahara was appointed Managing Director of Yamanashi Meijo Co., Ltd.