Tomonoura, a port town located in Fukuyama city, has been the site of the production of homeishu for many years. While walking around the town, you will find some stores displaying signs with “保命酒 (homeishu)”. This medicinal liquor has a long history. Dating back to 1659, Nakamura-ke, an herbal doctor family from Osaka, began producing and selling homeishu in Tomonoura –it was produced by blending a local sake in the region “Kibi no Umazake” with herbs from China– and they held a monopoly on it for generations. Homeishu gained popularity as the representative local sake in the Fukuyama Domain, and it was traded at high prices among wealthy merchants and feudal lords. While the recipe had been kept secret, some brewers began producing a similar liqueur during the Meiji period (1868-1912). In later years the recipe was found in ancient documents of the Nakamura family and it clarified the brewing method and ingredients. These days, more than 350 years after homeishu was born, it is produced and sold by only four brewers in Tomonoura.
A 350 Year History of Homeishu
Homeishu as a Healthy Liquor
The formal name of this liquor is “Jurokumijiou (or Jurokumi) homeishu”, telling it includes 16 (juroku) ingredients. Back in those days, it was blended with only 13 herbs such as Jiou, Keihi, Touki and others, plus counting non-herbal ingredients: shochu, glutinous rice and koji that makes 16 in total. A current product is made with 16 herbs and you can enjoy its distinctive sweetness as well as medicinal effects. Since alcohol helps to accelerate the process of the herbs being absorbed into the body, you may notice the effect earlier. Homeishu with hot water makes your body warm from inside, while chilled homeishu is effective to preventing tiredness from the summer heat. Also it is said to cure fatigue, sensitivity to cold, frequent urination, numbness, blurred vision and more.
Homeishu Bath for Fatigue Recovery and Beautiful Skin
We provide a Homeishu-buro in our public bath (as one of the Tsubo-yu which uses an earthenware pot as a bathtub) so that our guests can experience the homeishu’s benefits. Sake-kasu, lees left over from homeishu production, is used for the bath. By soaking in the homeishu bath, you can warm yourself to the core, and it helps to recover from fatigue and to prevent coldness after a bath. It is also good for your beauty. Generally a bath with sake lees is said to improve the condition of skin and the homeishu is no exception. We have received favorable comments especially from female customers that soaking in the bath makes their skin smooth.
Try Homeishu for Your Breakfast
Homeishu that we serve at our hotel is from “Irie Toyosaburo Honten”, a homeishu brewer in Tomonoura. For those who come to know homeishu for the first time, it will be a good opportunity to try it served with other drinks at our breakfast buffet. The taste is sweet, but it doesn’t use sugar or any artificial sweeteners at all. If it is a little thick for you, we recommend that you mix it with water or juice. Its moderate alcohol content (14%) and medicinal herbs will make you feel warm in winter and invigorated at summer. We assure you that drinking homeishu in the morning with our breakfast buffet will give you the energy needed to have a great day.
- Irie Toyosaburo Honten
- With a store preserving the appearance and atmosphere of the Edo period, it is popular as a tourist destination. In addition to homeishu and hon-mirin which are both brewed in a brewing house built about 200 years ago, you can buy the seasoned lees of homeishu, cough drops and jellies flavored by homeishu, which are popular for souvenirs.
- [Address] 534 Tomo-cho Tomo, Fukuyama city, Hiroshima prefecture [Hours] 9:00-16:00