Mura-mai seido

“Village-rice” system

The mura-mai seido ( – mura = village, mai = rice, seido = system – ) is a system of brewing rice transactions between specific Nada sake producers and the sakamai-producing region of Banshu (long “u”); in effect, a form of contract growing. The availability of large quantities of high quality sake rice from the neighbouring Banshu region (the south-west part of Hyogo Prefecture) may be said to be one factor in the rise of Nada sake.

In the Meiji Period (1868-1911), the system of an annual rice tribute of the previous era was reformed to a new system of taxation, and, during this process, more emphasis came to be laid on the volume of yield at harvest rather than quality. On the other hand, as civil government stabilized after the Meiji Restoration, the demand for sake increased, and the need to secure rice for making sake took on ever greater importance. Sake producers built close reciprocal relationships with those specific farming villages (called mura-mai-chi, 村米地、with the final character indicating a region,) that were actively engaged in producing good quality sake rice.

Although such regions had regular customers in the brewers, failure to improve quality would have led to a fall in the volume of trade, so consistent cooperation from the entire village was vital. This fact can be said to have been of great benefit in improving the quality of Nada sake.

The close relationship between the rice growing areas and the brewers is maintained today.