Toshimaya Corporation

Tokyo Region, Tokyo Prefecture

Established: 1596

Toshimaya, the oldest sake store in Tokyo, originated when its founder, Toshimaya Juemon, opened a sake store and tavern in 1596 at Kamakura Waterfront in central Edo (modern day Tokyo). When Juemon began brewing shirozake (white sake), its reputation spread throughout Edo. Shirozake is a sweet rice liqueur that was popular with women at the time. During the Edo era, Toshimaya sold “Kudari-zake”, or sake that had been transported from the Kansai region. Toshimaya sold sake at low prices, and also offered cheap grilled tofu (bean curd) topped with miso paste (“Dengaku” in Japanese), which was a popular snack eaten with sake, and the place is said to have been bustling with people. Toshimaya also sold empty sake barrels to miso paste shops and other customers, which allowed the business to sell sake at comparatively cheaper prices. (An interesting point of note: Toshimaya is said to have opened the first tavern in Japan.) As the business expanded, Toshimaya began trading with the Tokugawa Shogunate.