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Medieval Sake

When the age of the aristocracy ended and samurais came to the forefront, major changes took place in the world of sake production. Homemade cloudy sake common up to that point gradually became obsolete and sake breweries emerged.
Also, copper coins were imported from trades with China during this time, when the traditional barter-based economy was replaced with a monetized economy. Therefore, commercial sake production increased according to documents, while many sake breweries referred to as “Dosou” lined the streets of Kyoto and doubled as a financial institution.
During the Period of the Northern and Southern Dynasties (420-589 A.D.) leading into the Kamakura period (1185-1333), both the Imperial Court and the shogunate had financial difficulties that led to taxes imposed on sake. A document from the mid-Muromachi period (1336~1573) listed the names of over 300 sake breweries in the city of Kyoto.
Also, sake production flourished in Buddhist temples around this time. Sake produced in Buddhist temples by monks is referred to as “Soubousyu.” Produced and sold to raise profits, Soubousyu were required to be high-quality, thus sake production skills advanced greatly during this period.

#japan #japanese #kyoto #sake

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Tokyo Jizake Strolling (Secret Fad)

By Ryuji Takahashi

Chinese restaurant Machi-chuka is a secret fad in Tokyo. Machi-chuka was featured on TV and also in an entire magazine issue. Recently, one food producer is selling pre-packaged food products and condiments named the “Machi-chuka series,” currently in demand and difficult to obtain.
Although the line to categorize the restaurant is difficult to draw, Machi-chuka is a popular, individually-owned, community-based restaurant serving affordable delicious Chinese cuisine to the community since the Showa Era (1926-1989). At least one Machi-chuka location can be found in town throughout Tokyo. Cleanliness, ambiance, and flavor vary by restaurant location. I frequent different Machi-chuka locations on my days off. Many Machi-chuka restaurants are family-operated and opened to serve factory workers during the period of rapid economic growth, thus stocked with cartoon magazines and installed ashtrays.
Recently, many restaurants serve beer in medium bottles. However, regulars at Machi-chuka say the custom is to order beer in large bottles. I always start by ordering a can of beer with light appetizers, such as bamboo shoots and char siu. If no light appetizers are listed in the menu, I recommend the pan-fried gyoza dumplings. However, gyoza stuffed with filling is not what makes gyoza good.
Considering what to order afterwards, the ideal gyoza dumpling is filled mainly with vegetables and pan-fried to a crispy finish. I struggle with what to order afterwards every time, but will likely order stir-fried liver and garlic chives. The restaurant’s culinary techniques are evident in the exquisite balance between the liver, bean sprouts, chives and the sauce. Then comes the fried rice. Fried rice served at Machi-chuka is best moist, not dry. Stir-frying with lard is the best.
Crab used in crab fried rice must be imitation crab meat, not real crab. Using real crab meat increases the price dramatically. When students and businessmen gather during lunch hours, the more affordable imitation crab meat in greater volume is appreciated by customers. By this time, I’m starting to drink strong Green Tea-hi with a higher portion of shochu eyeballed by the hostess, not streamlined by chain izakaya restaurants.
Curry served at Machi-chuka is not stewed, but prepared to order with stir-fried ingredients, soup for Chinese noodles poured in, curry powder mixed in, and cornstarch dissolved with water added to make it thick. Mostly the same curry powder is used, while the soup for Chinese noodles differ according to the restaurant location, which allows each restaurant to serve their own original curry flavor. Machi-chuka offers a wide range of menu items with deep flavors. I expect my quest to continue for a long time.

#japanese #japanesefood #jizake #sake #tokyo

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Prepare for the upcoming party season.

By Yuji Matsumoto

When we get into December, restaurants start becoming busy with year-end parties and Christmas parties, and we should start preparation from the beginning of November. During this time, wines and champagnes are consumed a lot and even served by restaurants, and it is disappointing that sales of Japanese sake is slightly held back by them. However, if you think of what goes good with food, I feel that Japanese sake is the winner. Also it can be consumed at different temperatures and I am happy that hot sake can warm up your body during the cold seasons.
With some thought out presentations, you can drink Japanese sake in style.
Let's start with the glass. By using the white wine glass instead of the usual Japanese sake glass, you can increase the luxury at your table. If you like sparkling alcohol like champagne, it would be interesting to serve sake in a flute glass. Varieties of sparkling Japanese sake has increased recently and we're thankful that they are being sold at reasonable prices. Also, we would like you to try flavor sake which is popular during this season.
If you like to drink hot sake, we suggest you buy the sake warming set on the market that uses candles to warm sake. This would be a very good match with Western style foods.


#christmas #holiday #japanese #japanesesake #party #sake #wine #yearend

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Sake Nation “Activities of New Sake Breweries: Part I”

By Kosuke Kuji

The Japanese sake industry developed as a regional industry long-established in ancient times. On the other hand, this industry is difficult to enter for beginners. New license to produce sake is nearly impossible to obtain, a controversial issue with arguments for both sides.

Meanwhile, new sake breweries do emerge in Japan. Since a new license to produce sake is impossible to obtain, a different corporation typically emerges to rescue a closed sake brewery in many cases.
One such case is Choshu Sake Brewery Co., Ltd., based in Yamaguchi prefecture, producer of “Tenbi.”
Choshu Sake Brewery Co., Ltd. (Yamaguchi prefecture) was founded when Choshu Industry Co., Ltd., capitalizing on their photovoltaic (PV) power generating system, emerged to rescue Kodama Brewery that had already ceased sake production. Choshu Sake Brewery Co., Ltd. welcomed a female master sake brewer (my junior colleague), a graduate of Tokyo University of Agriculture, Department of Fermentation Science; to regroup as Choshu Sake Brewery Co., Ltd. and produce a new sake brand “Tenbi.”
For detailed background information on the brewery, please refer to the home page (

The female master sake brewer is passionately and carefully thorough in her excellent sake production skills. The quality sake “Tenbi” produced the first year after the new brewery was built garnered many headlines nationwide.
Since this sake cannot be produced in large volumes yet, export to the U.S. is not available. Since Choshu Sake Brewery Co., Ltd. is still a new sake brewery producing a rare new brand of sake with a delicate and delicious flavor, please try “Tenbi” if you see it in Japan on a store shelf.

酒豪大陸「新しい酒蔵の息吹 その1」

#japanese #japanesefood #sake

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Sake during the Nara (710-784 AD) & Heian (794-1185 AD) Periods

Sake production was established by the Japanese Imperial court from the Nara period (710-784 AD) to Heian period (794-1185 AD).
According to the “Engi-Shiki” stipulated in 927 AD, the administrative office “Sakenotsukasa” was established along with a brewing system. Sake brewing technology evolved rapidly as well, some are introduced below.

Gosyu: Prepared in the winter time, pressed 4 times. Clear sake sweet in flavor and low in acidity.

Goisyu: Prepared in early fall. The low volume of Goisyu produced is half the volume of Gosyu produced.

Reisyu: Prepared using sake instead of water. The original form of sake that later became sweet sake enjoyed mid-summer, mirin (sweet Japanese cooking sake), and Shirozake.

Sansyusou: Sweet sake prepared with malted barley and malted rice, non-glutinous rice and glutinous millet.

5.Shiroki, Kuroki: Sake used for the Niinamesai festival (ceremonial offering of newly harvested rice). Kuroki contains kusaski ashes (from burnt grass or wood), while shiroki does not contain the ashes.

Gosyusou...High-end sake brewed with great care, used by the imperial court for important ceremonies and consumed by the Emperor (1~4).


延長5年 (927) に定められた「延喜式(えんぎしき)」には「造酒司(さけのつかさ)」という役所が設けられたとあり、醸造体制が設けられた。酒造技術も一段と進んで行った。以下に一部を紹介する。

1、御酒 (ごしゅ):冬に仕込、4回しおり(搾ること)、甘口で酸の少ない澄み酒。
2、御井酒 (ごいしゅ):初秋の仕込、製成量は御酒の1/2と少ない。
3、醴酒 (れいしゅ):汲水の代りに酒を使う、盛夏用の甘い酒、みりん・白酒の原型。
4、三種糟 (さんしゅそう):麦芽・米麹を併用、うるち、モチアワを用いたみりん系の酒
5、白酒・黒酒 (しろき・くろき):新嘗祭(にいなめさい)用の酒、久佐木灰(くさきばい)を入れたものが黒酒(くろき)。入れない方が白酒(しろき)、共に大篩(おおふるい)でろ過した。

御酒糟(ごしゅそう)・・・特に入念に醸造した高級酒。宮中の重要儀式や天皇の小宴用 (1~4)
#heian #history #japan #nara #sake

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Tokyo Jizake Strolling (Scorching Summers in Japan)

By Ryuji Takahashi

This summer was too hot in Japan. The temperature seems to be rising every year. These days, exceeding 104 degF is more common. This year, experts said the temperature was higher due to how the atmospheric pressure is distributed, combined with global warming. Regular customers who are sake fans visited less frequently, a tough summer for sake shops as well. Sake is also consumed chilled in our culture, why is Japanese sake not widely consumed during the summer? Oh, I do enjoy sake during the summer, some might say. However, the overall volume of Japanese sake consumed has decreased.
Even if sake (59 degF) is poured into an ice cold beer tumbler, it wouldn’t feel right to gulp it down to enjoy the smoothness. Sake cocktails made from sake mixed with fruit juice and carbonation doesn’t feel right either. I might subconsciously think these beverages are not suitable to quench my thirst. White wine with only 1~2% difference in alcohol content is widely enjoyed in large volumes during the summer. Even from this perspective, the impression of Japanese sake might be the roadblock.
Recently, more sake flavors are similar to white wine, not a bad idea. However, the idea that summer = sake is still not established. The general impression is sake is overwhelmingly enjoyed during the winter. Simply put, the main ingredient of sake is rice, steamed and consumed with the exception of some dishes. Rice is a food ingredient preferred for hot dishes. In contrast, very few people heat and eat grapes, the ingredient of wine. Grapes taste better chilled. The impression surrounding food plays a major role in my opinion. So, what needs to be done to improve sake consumption in Japan? In my opinion, sake should be imported into Japan to learn the impression of sake overseas.
Japanese sake consumption declining year-round could be a very serious problem to the Japanese. Also, sake products made more similar to alcoholic products from other nations and foreign liquors is the strategy for sake to remain competitive. It’s clear this strategy to reconstruct the brand image of sake cannot be left to the Japanese. To the Japanese for whom there is no alternative to sake, timely help must come from overseas. To borrow the words of Dutch thinker Søren Aabye Kierkegaard, “Sake in its present irreplaceable status is the true essence of sake.”
Originally, even the Japanese may not truly understand what sake is until much older in age. As home appliances evolve technologically, the more we tend to think sake = winter, with Japanese culture lagging in sales from this stereotype which could be seen as humorous. My sincere wish is to have foreign consumers not familiar with the origin of sake to construct an appetizing brand image of sake.



#japan #japanesefood #jizake #sake #tokyo

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Get Your Appetite Back with Sake

By Yuji Matsumoto

The other day I had the opportunity to go to Las Vegas due to business, but couldn't believe that the day high was 45 degrees C (113 degF). With hot winds and scorching heat that may seem to melt the asphalt, I lost my appetite and found myself in an unhealthy predicament to spend a whole week in an air-conditioned room.
To ease my body from this heat, I decided to join (mariage) miso grill with a summer favorite vegetable nasu (eggplant) with extremely cold "Junmai Daiginjyo" .
Nasu doesn't contain much of nutrition value, but as you know miso (soybean paste) helps you with fatigue recovery, cancer prevention, cholesterol control, proper bowel movement, beauty improvement, brain activation, age prevention, stimulation of body function etc and the list goes on. Also, soybeans that are the main content contain fine quality protein, an abundance of necessary amino acids, saponin that is known to prevent increase of peroxide lipids, different vitamins, potassium, and food fibers etc. You couldn't be more than happy that miso goes well with Japanese sake.
So why don't we enjoy ourselves by having high nutritional value miso food and Junmai Daiginjo and help our body recover from the summer heat.



#daiginjo #japanesefood #junmai #sake

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Sake Nation “Sake Parties Resumed in Japan”

By Kosuke Kuji

The novel coronavirus outbreak prompted the cancellation of sake events throughout Japan for nearly 3 years.
Measures to prevent the spread of the virus are no longer enforced since March. No behavioral restrictions were imposed during the May Golden Week for the first time in 3 years, with more than double the number of people visiting their hometown and traveling compared to last year.
Since restrictions to spread the virus were lifted in March, the sake industry held the “18th Sake Festival in Nakameguro.”
Originally an outdoor event, this year’s event was held outdoors as well. Many sake fans gathered to attend the first major sake event in years.
Of course, measures to prevent the spread of the virus were set by the Japanese government to hold events safely. Many breweries came out to Tokyo wearing masks to engage in lively discussions with customers about sake, the first step in returning to normal.
The weather was a concern for outdoor events up until the coronavirus pandemic. Many customers especially prefer to enjoy sake leisurely indoors, rather than outdoors. Although not many, more outdoor sampling events will likely be held in the post-pandemic world.
During Golden Week, my sake brewery sponsored 2 sake events in Tokyo. Our independent sake party was the first to be held since the coronavirus outbreak. Registration was instantly filled to capacity and the event was successful. Since thorough measures were in place to prevent the spread of infection, no clusters occurred from any of the events.
In the future, measures need to be set in place to continue preventing the spread of the coronavirus while actively organizing sake events, etc.
The ban on business trips overseas will soon lift, I’m looking forward to it.



#japan #japanesefood #nakameguro #sake

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High-grade Sake Produced in Villages

In the Yuryaku Records of the “Kojiki” (Records of Ancient Matters), the villages listed include Takaichi of Wa, Karunoichi of Yamato, and Ekanoichi of Kawaschi.
Also, the “Nihonshoki” (the Chronicles of Japan) included descriptions about high-grade sake from Ekanoichi and Kibi, also consumed among commoners by the end of the 5th century.
According to records, “Sumizuke” is approximately 2.4 times the price of rice, while “Kozake” is 1.4 times the price of rice, and both “Nigorizake” and “Shirozake” were the same price as rice.
Also, sake breweries in Ukyo, Sakyo, Nanihatsu, and Yamazakinotsu were closed due to water damage in 806, when sake production and sales were prohibited.

Sake of the Imperial court
According to the “Ryounogige” (A Commentary on the Code of Discipline), sake produced in the Imperial court was brewed in a public office for sake production, restricted to 75 workers under the chief and 185 vendors in the Yamato-kawachi region.
Of the sake produced there, “Sumizake” is sake was produced by filtering fermentation-mash through a cloth, mainly served during official banquets in the Imperial court and as offering from high-ranking officials, while lower-ranking officials and laborers were served lower-grade sake such as “Nigorizake,” etc.
For example, if an administrative official overseeing a region is served 60 oz. of “Sumizake,” their attendants are served 18~24 oz. of “Nigorizake.”

また、大同1年(806) には水害のため、右京・左京・難波津・山崎津の酒屋の甕を封じて、濁酒の製造、販売を禁止しました。


#japan #nigori #nigorizake #sake #sumizake #yamato

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Tokyo Jizake Strolling (New Sake Product Introduced from Saitama Prefecture: Part 2)

By Ryuji Takahashi

The previous report featured the “Fujisaki Sobei Shoten.” I’m sure some readers may think traveling to Nagatoro-machi (town) just to visit the Nagatoro-gura brewery is a long way to go.
I recommend traveling by car to visit the Nagatoro-gura brewery. Readers may not recommend driving since the purpose of this trip is to sample sake. However, only a few sake selections will be sampled in low volumes, not to mention sake sampling may not be possible if the sales section is busy. Sake is packaged in small cups and bottles, so purchasing small bottles of sake to savor at home is recommended to make the most of the visit to Nagatoro-machi. If driving, take the Kan-Etsu Expressway Hanazono Interchange via National route 140 to arrive in Nagatoro-machi.
Following one turn in front of the subway station, the Nagatoro-gura sign becomes visible. The route is very simple, even an inexperienced driver can easily reach the destination. The brewery offers a spacious parking area. Be careful not to arrive too early, the store does not open until 11:00 AM. The visit to the sake brewery will take approximately 5 to 10 minutes without shopping at the store, which would take approximately 30 minutes total. Inside the brewery is visible through glass windows looking into the koji room and the steaming basket, not very spacious to call it a brewery tour.
Visiting restaurants and souvenir shops with sake in hand purchased at the brewery poses a challenge, while driving is convenient to leave your luggage in the car to choose between soba (buckwheat) vs. udon (wheat) noodles, pork cutlet, or pork with miso sauce for lunch. My recommendation is the pork cutlet. Two pieces of thin, elliptical shaped pork cutlet approximately 8 inches thick are served on a bowl of rice, topped with a sweet-and-spicy sauce; a local specialty dish in both Chichibu city and Nagatoro-machi. The flavor is similar to pork cutlet with sauce served in Ojiya city, Niigata prefecture. I recommend udon noodles for visitors who wish to avoid fried foods.
Although the mountains of Kanto region may bring soba (buckwheat) noodles to mind, udon (wheat) noodles are long established in this Chichibu city area as suggested in the many udon noodle shops visible from the Hanazono Interchange to Chichibu city. Udon noodles in this region are thin and boiled harder (firmer) than Sanuki udon. Parked in front of the subway station, I strolled down the quiet but elegant street down the Arakawa River to the rafting relay point in Iwadatami to visit the shopping district lined by souvenir shops to aid digestion.
Once I reach the river, I can go rafting or enjoy a canoe ride. Just viewing the beautiful scenic river view is satisfying. The roadside station selling local specialties such as produce and pickled vegetables is only 5 minutes in driving distance. Therefore, I could shop and stroll further down to visit the Chichibu Dam or the fall. Why not get away from the bustling city to cool off in Chichibu city and Nagatoro-machi?

*Michinoeki (Roadside Station)
Michi-no-eki, or roadside stations, are government-designated rest stops along roads and highways. Approximately 1,134 stations operate nationwide, increasing each year. These designated rest stops offer travelers places to rest, regional exchange, and spot sales of local products.

東京地酒散歩(埼玉県の新たな酒 2)


#japan #jizake #michinoeki #saitama #sake

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