|Neighbors of Toshio Sumiya jokingly attribute his constant smile to the intoxicating vapors of the fermenting sweet rice wine that he is always inhaling. However, head brewmaster Sumiya protests that it is not just the heady aroma of the workplace that lifts his spirits, but the pride he feels in his family business. Mitoku's mirin maker, Sumiya Bunjiro Shoten, located in the small coastal town of Hekinan in central Japan, is one of the few authentic sweet rice wine producers in the entire country.
In the early 1970s, the Sumiya family's perseverance and dedication to traditional standards paid off. Its mirin received five consecutive gold medals from the Alcoholic Seasonings Association. In 1975, the mirin produced by the Sumiya family became the only mirin ever to receive the coveted Diamond Award for excellence. Some five years later, Toshio Sumiya's international reputation was launched when Mitoku Company, Ltd. initiated the exportation of Sumiya Bunjiro Shoten mirin to five continents.