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Japan’s Oldest-Known Sake Brewery Unearthed

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

KYOTO, JAPAN—According to a report in The Asahi Shimbun, a sake brewery thought to date to the fifteenth century A.D. has been discovered on the grounds of the Tenryuji Temple, which is located in the south-central region of Japan’s main island of Honshu. Researchers working ahead of a construction project discovered 180 holes that held storage jars, and traces of a wooden apparatus used to extract liquid from fermented rice held in cloth bags. Historical documents record that the temple sold sake between 1336 and 1573 and loaned out the profits at high interest rates, but this is the first physical evidence of sake production found at the site. Traces of a fourteenth-century brewery were also found about six feet away. To read about first-millennium B.C. mariners' offerings to a trio of goddesses at a Shinto shrine, go to "Japan's Sacred Island."

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