Living and Thriving with Yeast


One of the earth’s largest families of fungi are the microscopic strains of yeast that live everywhere around us.  There are many types of yeast.  Some are used to make bread, others for brewing beer. Humans have used yeasts to ferment different foods since prehistoric times.  Yeasts have always been a part of our lives, and a factor in our dietary health.

It is said that about 100,000 species of fungi are known to man, but that there are probably somewhere in the realm of 1.5 million fungi worldwide.  Yeasts are likewise abundant and, like fungi, are still mostly undiscovered.  So far, humans have identified fewer than 2,000 distinct strains of yeast.

The authoritative text “The Yeasts, A Taxonomic Study, Ed. 5 (2011)” lists 1312 types of yeast.

It is safe to say that many beneficial strains of yeast remain to be discovered.


Japan: A Treasure Trove of Yeasts

Anyone who has visited Japan appreciates that it is a land of extraordinarily rich natural life.   Stretched out longitudinally from south to north, from the subtropics to the subarctic, the islands of Japan connect a multitude of lush biozones and habitats.  But what about yeasts, which are invisible to the eye? Do they thrive in Japan?

So far in Japan there have been 183 distinct strains of yeast discovered, accounting for 14% of the world’s 1312 above-mentioned types.  This is a fairly significant share of the known strains of yeasts.  Yet even in the relatively narrow confines of Japan, many unknown yeasts remain to be discovered.


Yeasts and the Japanese Culture: a traditional partnership

Japan has used the Saccharomyces.sake yeast in the production of rice wine since ancient times.  Today this family of yeasts, specifically the Saccharomyces.cerevisiae group, is still used to convert rice starch into glucose.  In the process of fermentation these sugars morph into alcohol, creating the famous rice wine beloved in Japan since days of old.


The Discovery of a New Yeast Subspecies

A recently identified sub-strain of saccharomyces.cerevisiae is the ITO strain.  The 32 organic fruits and vegetables used in the production of HARAI are fermented exclusively with this potent yeast strain.  The fermentation period for these ingredients is quite long.  Each requires a period of two to four years before the final extract is produced.

The most noteworthy characteristic of the ITO strain is its acid tolerance, which enables it to survive an acid level of pH 1.  The acidity of the stomach is typically pH 1 – 1.5.  Hence, Harai’s organic enzymes can pass safely though the stomach and reach the intestines intact, where they assist in the breakdown of food molecules into nutrients and waste matter, nourishing the body and bringing balance and health to the digestive system.



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