Tour of Uonuma Jozo
Visit a rice malt factory in the heart of one of Japan’s top rice-growing regions
Uonuma City, Niigata Prefecture
Uonuma Jozo, located in Niigata Prefecture, is one of the largest rice koji (malt) factories in the world. Rice koji is made by fermenting steamed rice with a special type of mold. The factory uses this malt to produce fermented foods, like the flavorful rice drink koji amazake, via a process that makes the most of nature’s blessings.
Delicious water and rice are essential for the production of koji amazake. The factory was built here in Uonuma because of the area’s abundance of melted snow water from the “Three Mountains of Echigo,” making this one of the premier rice-growing regions in Japan.
During the factory tour, you can see how fermented foods like koji amazake are made. In the theater room, you’ll learn about the land of Uonuma and the production of amazake by watching a film on a large cinema-style screen. At the end of the tour, you can visit the snow room, a warehouse where snow is stored. The cold air from the snow is used to cool the inside of the museum, including the café, in the summer.
The cafe at the Uonuma Koji Salon serves koji amazake delivered directly from the factory, as well as koji amazake soft ice cream. You can also buy koji products in the shop. And be sure to taste the water that Uonuma Jozo is so proud of. (Note: The factory does not serve alcoholic beverages.)
How to get there
From Tokyo Station, take the JR Joetsu Shinkansen to Urasa Station (about 1 hour 30 minutes). Uonuma Jozo is 8 minutes by taxi from the station.
1791-10 Tokamachi, Uonuma-shi, Niigata-ken