Shichi Hon Yari is named after the legendary seven spearsmen, who fought in the Battle of Shizugatake on the outskirts of the town of Kinomoto in 1583. These seven spearsmen were the chief generals of Toyotomi Hideyoshi in the Battle of Shizugatake, and were vital in his victory over the Nobunaga clan in this battle. The Tomita family named their sake after these great warriors, producing the “sake of victory”, when they first started shipping their sake to Tokyo, the new capital in the Edo Period.
The brewery was established in the 1530s, in the small town of Kinomoto. The Tomita Shuzo is one of Japan’s oldest and smallest breweries, producing just over six thousand cases a year. Each bottle is meticulously produced by one toji and three other brewers, showing how their sake is undeniably tezukuri, translated as “handmade”.
In the twentieth century, the famous Rosanjin made the etching of the characters “Shichi Hon Yari” on a wooden block that hangs over the entrance of the brewery when he was a young craftsman, as he stayed with the Tomita family for a period of time during his travels.
At present day, Shichi Hon Yari is run by the young Yasunobu-san, his sister, and his mother, and they have been collaborating with local farmers on using ecologically safe rice, as well as reviving sakes made with historic red and black rice. Their toji, Shizuo Naka-san, was the youngest brew-master to join the Noto Toji guild. Although he may be young, it does not mean he lacks skill, as Shichi Hon Yari won a gold medal at the Japanese National New Sake Competition in 2005, and exceptional achievement given the size of their brewery and production.