High-quality Dassai Sake and ICT Collaborate to Support Stable Production of Yamada Nishiki Rice, a Uniquie Ingredient of Dassai that can be Difficult to Grow

Dassai, a highly popular, premium quality pure-rice sake sold in 20 countries around the world

Autumn is the best season for tasting Japanese sake. Made during the cold winter, sake is generally believed to continue to mature and increase in flavor as the seasons change from spring to summer and then to autumn.

Many types of mild tasting sake have become available in recent years. Also, because of a boom overseas in quality sake, the beverage has been becoming popular among a wide range of consumers, regardless of their age or gender.

The most popular of all is Dassai, a sake locally brewed in Yamaguchi Prefecture; it sells out as soon as it hits the store shelves.
Dassai is a pure-rice sake made exclusively from rice and rice malt using only Yamada Nishiki rice, which is believed to be the highest-quality sake rice. To remove unpleasant flavors, the rice is polished until it is reduced to less than half its original size. Then, the remaining grain cores are slowly fermented at a low temperature to make premium quality, pure-rice sake with a rich, fruity flavor and refreshing taste.

Popular among wine connoisseurs overseas, Dassai is currently sold in approximately 20 countries around the world, including the United States Thailand, Indonesia, and Egypt, as well as other countries in Europe and the Middle East.

Supporting stable production of Yamada Nishiki rice by using ICT to eliminate supply shortages

Dassai’s worldwide popularity as a quality sake has also created a new challenge—namely, a shortage of the Yamada Nishiki rice used to make it. Despite great demand for it as a sake ingredient, Yamada Nishiki is a strain of rice with unstable yields that is difficult to grow because of its susceptibility to a disease called rice blight as well as its height, which makes it vulnerable to wind damage.

For this reason, there are a limited number of growers of Yamada Nishiki. This means concerns regarding shortages for Dassai may become more serious, causing the sake to become a virtually un-obtainable.

To cope with this difficulty, Asahi Shuzo (a sake brewery) and Fujitsu launched an initiative aimed at increasing the yield of Yamada Nishiki by using ICT so that even growers who are just starting out can stably grow and harvest this strain of rice. To do so, the two companies introduced Akisai, Fujitsu’s Food and Agricultural Cloud service, at two farms in the Yamaguchi Prefecture where Yamada Nishiki is produced.

Fujitsu’s Akisai gathers and accumulates information on the growth of Yamada Nishiki rice by using a variety of sensors operated through an agricultural production management system. It visualizes rice cultivation processes in paddies in order to study the cultivation methods necessary to stabilize rice yields.

Compiling a Yamada Nishiki cultivation manual to support growers who are just starting out

This initiative began in April 2014. At present, the rice is growing steadily and is on track for harvest around October. After the harvest, Fujitsu will analyze the gathered information in order to compile a cultivation manual. It will also be possible to calculate production costs, which have been difficult to estimate in the past, and to create traceability information for food safety purposes.

Asahi Shuzo and Fujitsu plan to continue this initiative in 2015 and beyond to increase the number of growers. In the future, the companies intend to release this accumulated cultivation know-how to the public in order to support growers in stabilizing their production and farming management at an early stage.

Made from rice and water using a traditional method, sake has been a source of pride for the Japanese people for a very long time. Dassai is a premium quality pure-rice sake loved by many people and Fujitsu takes pleasure in delivering this great sake to as many people as possible, through the use of ICT.