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Thursday, March 31, 2016

Tonoike Sake Brewery visit and Kuramoto Bijin skincare haul

Wait!
Sake brewery and skincare haul all at the same time?

Yep. Totally possible if you live in Japan.


Sake based skincare has been around for a long time, even since before SK-II patented their Pitera.
And in recent years there has been a virtual explosion of sake-inspired, sake-infused, sake-blended, and sake-based cosmetics. At least in Japan.

Why? Because sake is virtually everywhere here, sake by-products are full of vitamins and anti-ageing compounds, and fermented products are probably one of the oldest beauty treatments known to man.



Kuramoto Bijin rice oil and sake serum (the red one) has been my friend since last year. I loved it so much that I began to spread the joy to my friends in foreign lands.

A few weeks ago I was finally getting ready to write about it (and as always, the review is still pending) and had the mother of all eureka moments.



Tonoike Sake Brewery that makes the product is literally down the street from my house. It's located in Mashiko in Tochigi prefecture.

A quick look at the company's website revealed that the brewery is very visitor friendly.
You didn't have to tell me that twice.

And so last Monday I hopped in the car and zoomed over to Mashiko.
Mashiko is famous in its own right - it's one of the main pottery centers in Japan. It holds two pottery festivals a year and if you're into expensive tableware and pretty things, you should definitely consider visiting.


I don't drink alcohol. I dip my tongue in sake only during official ceremonies when it absolutely, positively can't be avoided. I am no sake expert. I only know what wikipedia tells me.

But what I do know is that sake kasu (a.k.a. sake lees) makes for a wonderful face pack.

With that in mind, I had no idea what I could expect during my visit to Tonoike Shuzouten in Mashiko.



As it turned out, I worried needlessly. A visit to a sake brewery is great fun even for a non-drinker and a sake noob like me.


 I was met by Mr Shigeki Tonoike, the boss himself, who kindly volunteered to be my guide.

The Tonoike family has been making sake in Tochigi prefecture since 1829 and the brewery in Mashiko was established by Mr Tonoike's (the current boss's) grandfather in 1937.
And apparently, as evidenced by numerous domestic and international sake competition awards, the Tonoike family really knows their stuff.


My tour started with a video explaining the sake making process.
After that I donned special slippers, a white smock and a hat and went to see the fermenting rice up close and personal.


What makes sake special is how the rice is polished. The more of the outer layer you remove, the fancier the sake later on.



When polished and washed, the grains don't look like rice anymore. They resemble tiny white pearls. And are just as shiny.



And here you can see it fermenting in huge vats:


There's your sake being made. And cosmetics :-)



Actually Tonoike Shuzouten doesn't manufacture beauty products in-house. Instead they send their raw materials to proper, licensed plants that do the work for them. They also work with cosmetic chemists and scientists to make sure that their products are up to the highest standards.


Mr Tonoike explained that the cosmetic side of things started 10 years ago with soap.
Sake bottles are heavy, and while they make great gifts and souvenirs, they are big and hard to transport. And not everyone is a drinker.

Sake based soap seemed like a perfect solution. It was small, light and something that everyone uses.

Then came sake-infused hand cream. And let me tell you, it really does smell like sake. If you're a drinker you might end up licking your hands. A lot.

But what about those who are not fans of the sake smell?


The answer was very simple - tochiotome strawberries - Tochigi's most famous crop.
And that's how the strawberry infused cream was born. And let me tell you, it really does smell like strawberries. I wanted to lick my hands. A lot.


Then came sake and strawberry infused bath salts. If you ever wanted to bathe in a sake smelling soup, this one's for you. I used to plop a chunk of sake kasu into my hot bath, now I can use proper bath salts. Saves a lot of work when scrubbing the bathtub later on.

Kuramoto Bijin Hakumai Ferment Lotion was new to me. I can't wait to try it.


Kuramoto Bijin Hakumai Ferment Milk was made famous by Ratzilla's best pick feature.


I am on my second bottle and it has become my winter dry skin savior.

Ratzilla also wrote about Kuramoto Bijin Komeyu Rice Oil.


I have been using it on my eczema patches and works better than any other facial oil I have tried. Eat your heart out tsubaki!

The three rice grain ladies (yep, they are shaped like rice) signify women in their 20s, 30s and 40s. In other words - Kuramoto Bijin Komeyu is skincare for everyone.



Tonoike Sake Brewery is working on additional beauty products - face cream, sheet masks and a face pack (which means no more do it yourself sake kasu!). A premium line is also in the works.

And the best news is that the company is working on an English-language internet store with worldwide shipping.  How awesome is that?


Many Japanese companies are totally oblivious to the popularity of Japanese skincare overseas, they don't care and can't be bothered.
So it was so refreshing and inspiring to see a Japanese company that understands the importance of making life easy for its foreign customers.



HAUL TIME!!!

This is my entire Tonoike Shuzouten Kuramoto Bijin haul.


Kuramoto Bijin Komeyu Rice Oil and Kuramoto Bijin Komeyu Rice Oil Serum:



Kuramoto Bijin Hakumai Ferment Lotion and Kuramoto Bijin Hakumai Ferment Milk:


Kuramoto Bijin Hakumai Ferment Soap:



Tochiotome hand cream and bath salts:


Nameraka hand cream and sake bath salts:




And... sake kasu pound cake!
It was delicious!



I seem to have missed the strawberry body lotion, but that's ok. I have an excuse to visit again!

Thank you so much Mr Tonoike and Ms Sato for making me feel so welcome!


Isn't it awesome to realize that your favorite skincare brand was born literally in your own back yard?

I will be reviewing the products in the coming weeks. So stay tuned. Because a Kuramoto Bijin giveaway is coming too. I hauled lots and I'm happy to share!


UPDATE:

If you're interested in any of these products, but can't purchase them easily online (I know they can be hard to find!), please let me know.  I'll be happy to help. Because, hey, Tochigi pride! Represent! :-)

34 comments:

  1. Narobilas mi ochoty, zazdroszcze, ze masz je pod nosem ;))) Chetnie wyprobowalabym lotion i milk, tochiotome kremik do rak tez mi sie usmiecha, wiec czekam az sklep otworza. Daj znac jak bedziesz cos wiedziec :).
    Musze sie zaopatrzyc niedlugo w jakis lotion i mleczko, bo A-true na wykonczeniu i zaczne Otomehada. Ciekawe czy jest wydajny, Diorsnow na rok mi starczyl i uwielbiam. Przemawiaja do mnie te sake kosmetyki, i cenowo wydaja sie rozsadni, wiec na pewno warto wyprobowac.
    Pozdrawiam

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Albo daj mi znac co Cie interesuje i moze spozniony zajac cos dostarczy, jak wrocisz z Hameryki.
      Nie ma nawet porownania z Otomehada. Otome nie jest zle, swietnie odswieza zmeczona cere po powrocie z pracy, ale nie daje mi tego uczucia jedrnosci i gladkosci, ktore mam po Kuramoto Bijin. I dodatkowo musze powiedziec, ze serum daje calkiem niezle efekty "brightening".
      Cenowo sa bardzo rozsadni i jakosciowo powiem, ze niemal z wyzszej polki. Swobodnie mogliby konkurowac z koreanskimi wysokopolkowcami.

      Delete
    2. Yay, nowy zajac! Poogladam sobie, co maja i Ci napisze :D. Nie mam watpliwosci co do jakosci, czesto takie firmy robia swietne produkty. Widac na Tobie te efekty "brightening". Widzialam dzisiaj Twoje zdjecie na Tweeterze, skorke masz pikna jak pupcia noworodka, pod oczkami tez slicznie! Nie dziw, zes zadowolona, tez bym byla z taka cera ;)))) Faktycznie mialas racje z rosacea, az dziw ze dermatolog nie rozpoznala?
      Trafilam dzisiaj w Galeries Lafayette na konsultantke Estee Lauder z Toulousy, i ona nic nie wiedziala o istnieniu poduszki BB, wiec nie wiadomo czy wyjdzie w Europie. Stoisko bylo wciaz biedne, wiec sie "poskarzylam", maja testery dostarczyc, ale nigdy wszystkiego u nas nie bedzie, buuuu.
      Pozdrawiam

      Delete
  2. Mialam to mleczko, ale zupelnie mi nie podeszlo... Ba wysuszylo mi takie dwie plamy pod nosem... I kurczaki co jakis czas sie odnawiaja. Ratuje sie...kremem derizum! Koi wszystko i po 2-3 dniach nie ma sladu. Ze sie tu sparzylam... Ale moze bym nabyla krem do rak? I olej?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Czy to na pewno od tego mleczka? Bo to co opisujesz brzmi jak atopy, albo contact dermatitis.
      Mnie to mleczko akurat pomoglo w ukojeniu suchej cery. Uzywalam rowniez do DIY masek i bylo genialne.

      Delete
    2. No wlasnie jestem pewna, ze to od tego mleczka... bo odstawilam na dwa tygodnie wszystko poza filtrem Nov. Do zmywania makijazu uzywam olejki Fancl od dluzszego czasu i to na pewno nie to. PO olejku jade biala Panienką Pompą. jak odstawilam mleczko to plamy stopniowo poznikaly. teraz wlasnie je dokurowalam. I jade na kremie derizum. Sprobuje dac szanse temu mleczku, bo oczywiscie go nei wyrzucilam... Doszedl olejek.
      Nie mam zadnej alergii pokarmowej wiec to odrzucam zupelnie... Atopowej cery nnie mam. Ona jakas taka wrazliwa kiedy jej sie chce. Widzisz na przyklad mnie lotion Hada Labo ten zwykly bialy zupelnie nie podraznia! i to mnie dziwi, bo porownujac sklad mleczka Bijin a lotionu HL, to to drugie powinno mnie, ze tak powiem udupic... a tu nic. dlatego pewnie jeszcze dlugo nei dojde z cera do ladu i skladu...ona chyba tak ma.
      Wyrpobuje raz jeszcze, najwyzej sie sparze i do szkoly bede chodzic skornie pokiereszowana ;D

      Delete
    3. No wlasnie. Mnie HL udupia. A szkoda, bo tanie jest.
      KB zadzialalo cuda na moja rosacea, bo niestety taka jest moja diagnoza skorna. To nie rozowy ton cery (wg MACa jestem neutralna) a wlasnie rumien tradziku rozowatego. Sake ferment bardzo mi tu pomaga w ukojeniu tego rozu.

      Delete
  3. Zamowilam juz olej- ten niebieski. Jak nie podejdzie to do ciala zuzyje :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Anna, I am super interested in the products.

    Ana

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Xio!
      Let me know which ones!
      I finally have a moment and can organize a package!
      Email anytime :-)

      Delete
  5. Hi Anna,
    Just fount your blog and it's amazing thanks for all the information.
    I am very interested by the products but having a hard time finding them online... can you give suggestions on what to do
    Thanks a ton
    (btw how is the serum?)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi!
      The serum is my favorite product of the bunch. Lotion is coming in as a close second. Along with the milk.
      Send me an email and tell me which ones you're interested in. I can help :-)

      Delete
    2. Thanks a million,
      I emailed you :)

      Delete
  6. Hi there!

    I'm interested in purchasing some Kuramoto Bijin sake products through you. How do I go about this?

    Also what does the Nakemura hand cream smell like?

    Thanks for your time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Ninjette,
      send me an email and I can organize a package :-)
      The hand cream smells like sake, hahahaha! But it's absolutely amazing for dry and chapped skin. I have to wash my hands multiple times a day and this cream has been tested on the harshest of skins. It passed the test :-)

      Delete
  7. Hello Hello!

    I'm very excited to read your review of the milk and Ratzilla's review of the Komeyu oil, but I know if I try something and my skin isn't going to like it it will happen immediately. I have some leftover, clean sample containers so if I were to mail them to you, would you be able to provide me with some samples to try? If they work, I want to make the trip to the brewery when I'm in Japan later this year to buy the full sizes. :)

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hi, I just found your blog today and it is amazing ;)
    I'm really interested in purchasing some of the product but I guess I'll wait until you review. I'm also not a drinker but this post is making curious hahaha. Thanks for the fun post!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hello!! I love these products (using the Facial Oil and Serum)! I picked them up while on vacation in Japan after reading reviews online, but unfortunately I was unable to find the Milk in stores. I was wondering how much would it be to ship the three products to the US. I am asking so I can budget when it comes time to replace them. Thank you!!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Hi Anna,

    May I know what is the difference between the KB ferment milk and lotion? How is their consistency like? Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Hi Anna
    I really interested on this product. But I had a hard time to find it online to ship to America. I would love to buy it through you. How can I go with it ?
    Thanks a lot

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Vicki,
      send me an email (it's listed in the sidebar) and I'll try to help :-)

      Delete
  12. Hey Anna,

    I just found your blog and read your post. I think I love you! I'm a nonsexual way. You have a good eye for products! Super interested in these. Do you have a buying service in Japan?

    Thanks,
    Didi

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Didi!
      No, I don't have a buying service, but I can help with certain items.
      Send me an email (in the sidebar) and I'll see what I can do :-)

      Delete
  13. Hello Anna :)

    Do you know other place to buy those products other than in the factory itself?

    Thanks a bunch!

    ReplyDelete
  14. I just got the Rice Bran oil in the mail from your recommendation, and it indeed applies so well there's no greasy finish at all. MATTE! Long-term effects remain to be seen (which can be difficult to attribute to a certain product because I splash a bizillion of things on my face and have absolutely no brand loyalty), but I like the way that it makes my skin feel smooth and moisturized.

    Would you recommend the sake serum also? My skin is normal/combination, but oiliness hasn't been an issue as of late.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Hello Anna, can i visit tonoike whenever i want?i wanna buy kuramoto bijin skincare but not online...who should i contact?

    txs

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Call the brewery in Mashiko and make an appointment.

      Delete
  16. Hi Anna! I'm going to Kyoto and Tokyo in March and I was wondering where can I purchase these products? Especially the serum, oil and milk. Thank you so much in advance!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Hi Anna! I an super interested in ALL of the things you bought haha. Is it ok if you help me buy all those things? I'm living in Singapore. Thanks so much!

    ReplyDelete
  18. Now, i'm living in Japan - Tokyo. Where can I by sake lotion because I found some comestic shop but didn't see them

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sorry, I have no idea. I don't live in Tokyo.
      You can order these products on the internet from the brewery directly. Please take a look at their website.

      Delete
  19. I stay in Singapore so where can I buy Sake lotion? Can you help me to find with buying online or at any stores? Thank you so much! Arigatou gozaimasu!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. send me an email, if you have paypal, I can get it for you.

      Delete
  20. Hi.. I'm from Malaysia. Would it be possible to help me buy and send it to me? Can I send you an email and pay you via PayPal? Thanks a lot.

    ReplyDelete

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