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Changes to the Bottling Factory:
From Hand-Bottling to Automation

Changes to the Bottling Factory: From Hand-Bottling to Automation[Photo 1]

Photo 1

Changes to the Bottling Factory: From Hand-Bottling to Automation[Photo 2]

Photo 2

  • Periods: 1909 (Photo 1), 1931 (Photo 2)

Gekkeikan worked hard on commercializing bottled sake to create a new product to replace barreled sake. In 1909, we opened our first bottling plant at Motozaimoku-cho, Fushimi-ku, Kyoto, which is now the Gekkeikan Okura Sake Museum. The plant included boilers, and sake pasteurized through a heat exchange with hot water would be bottled by five or six employees, one by one, and by hand [Photo 1].

In 1931, a plant featuring full-scale bottling machinery was set up under the steel-frame pillar-less dome of the Gekkeikan Showagura Brewery in Katahara-cho, Fushimi-ku, Kyoto, and bottling was done using a production line [Photo 2]. Ten empty bottles bound together would be brought in at a time and automatically washed in a washing machine, then, following sterilization, be placed on a line that could fill a thousand bottles an hour. At the time, this was the most advanced equipment in the industry. Eighteen filled 1-sho bottles of sake would be placed in a wooden box and shipped out nationwide by steam train from the nearest national railways (now JR) station, Momoyama. At the time, barreled sake still accounted for 60% of the market, but at Gekkeikan, bottled sake became increasingly dominant. The building, with its steel-frame dome, still stands, and still houses advanced machinery for filling 1-sho bottles.

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