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The History of Château Mercian Daikoku Wine (From 1888)

After the dissolution of the Dainihon Yamanashi Wine Company, one individual took over its equipment and decided to try his own hand at winemaking. This was Kotaro Miyazaki, also one of Dainihon’s shareholders.
Miyazaki began joint winemaking operations along with Ryuken Tsuchiya and his younger brother Yasuyuki.
The three of them established Kaisan Winery, which made improving the quality of its wine its top priority, even seeking guidance from experts in medicine and science to make better wines. However, while it did make some progress in terms of quality, sales of wine continued to lag.
The primary bottleneck in the wine business of the time was opening sales channels in a country where people were not yet accustomed to drinking wine. How could they spread this beverage that was still unfamiliar to so many? After a series of discussions, they decided to set up their own directly-managed sales office in the heart of Tokyo.
In 1888, they opened a wine shop called Kaisan Shoten (later Daikoku Budoshu Co., Ltd., and Ocean Co., Ltd.) in what is now the Ningyocho area of Nihonbashi, Tokyo. They placed “Kaisan Wine” labels on domestic wines and sold them at the shop. Kotaro Miyazaki was the one who came upon this sales channel and promotion idea. However, in contrast to the pure and authentic to which Kaisan Wine was dedicated, the public’s tastes had turned toward imported wines that were artificially sweetened after being brought into Japan.
With no signs of improvement in their performance, Tsuchiya and Miyazaki soon went their separate ways. In September 1890, Tsuchiya took over the equipment of Iwaimura and began his own attempts at winemaking, while Miyazaki continued to manage the Kaisan Shoten in Tokyo.
Miyazaki had adopted an illustration of Daikokuten, god of wealth and commerce and one of the Seven Lucky Gods, as a trademark for Kaisan Winery. In 1891 he registered this trademark and began selling wines with this Daikokuten illustration on the labels and advertising. This promotion would soon gain notice, and the Daikoku brand of wine sold by Miyazaki would come to be widely known and enjoyed.

Portrait of Kotaro Miyazaki
Daikokuten Brand Kaisan Wine label

Giving Back to the Growers

Grapes being transported

Today the town of Katsunama in Koshu City, Yamanashi Prefecture, is a major wine producing area. And it owes a big debt of gratitude to Kotaro Miyazaki. When he set up his Kaisan Winery here in 1886, cultivation of wine grapes was not yet common.
Miyazaki encouraged production by promising to buy back, at a high price, any grapes grown on his recommendation. In fact, he told farmers that they could earn three times what they had been getting for table grapes. He even guaranteed at least double the income of double-cropping rice and wheat. Even when wine sales failed to take off and other winemakers cut back their grape purchases, Miyazaki kept his promise, buying a set amount of harvests to keep the grape farmers in business.
It was Miyazaki’s quest for authenticity and spirit of support for the community that paved the way for Japanese wine.

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