Umeshu and History
Ume fruit, along with salt, is said to be “the oldest seasoning”.
We would like to introduce you the history of ume, the beauty of its blossoms,
and the story about the birth of the beloved Umeshu.
Fruit with a 4000 year history. The birth and arrival of ume.
The existence of ume can be traced back to over 4000 years ago. It is said that the oldest known description is "salted ume" that was mentioned in Chinese business books around 2000 BC.It was during the Yayoi Period that it came to Japan from the Yangtze River basin of China, which is considered the place of its origin. It is believed that it was used as a Chinese herbal medicine and later became popular for its beautiful blossoms.
Precious fruit. The unknown story behind the birth of Umeshu.
There are no written records of when Umeshu was created and became popular in Japan.However, the recipe for making Umeshu was mentioned for the first time in the “Honcho-shokkan”, a Japanese cuisine book published about 300 years ago. At the time, sugar was an extremely valuable item, so it is believed that Umeshu was only enjoyed by the wealthy class.
Late Edo Period
Popular side business. Umeshu making.
In the Edo Period, making Umeshu and umeboshi (pickled ume) at home was already a well-established culture. An article “About planting ume and raising farmers’ profits” was found in an agricultural book “Koueki Kokusan Kou” published in the late Edo Period.
According to those old books, not only the consumption of processed ume but its cultivation and the sale of ume processed foods were highly recommended as a side business.
Was it illegal? Umeshu boom.
CHOYA started producing Umeshu in 1959. Although Umeshu making was already a common practice in many households at the time, the production of Umeshu at home was actually prohibited by law. When the revision of the Liquor Tax Law effectively lifted the ban in 1962, a boom in making Umeshu at home began and Umeshu became a favorite of many people.
New era for Honkaku Umeshu. With tradition, Innovation and CHOYA.
There are many Umeshu brands in the market today, and their products are of widely varying quality including those that use mostly artificial additives instead of ume but, nonetheless, are called “Umeshu”.
On January 23, 2015, Japan Spirits & Liqueurs Makers Association set a regulation determining that only Umeshu made with the traditional manufacturing method - one that uses solely “ume fruit, sugar, and alcohol” - can be called Honkaku Umeshu「Authentic Umeshu」.
CHOYA believes it is our mission to protect and spread the tradition and culture of Umeshu that has been passed down from generation to generation for some 300 years. We will also pursue new possibilities for Umeshu. As a Honkaku Umeshu manufacturer, CHOYA will continue to produce and sell reliable products based on the same good standards as always.