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Tokyo Jizake Strolling  (The Daikanyama Shopping District)

By Ryuji Takahashi

With spring fast approaching at the end of March, an event titled “The Daikanyama Shop Association” featured many shops selling niche merchandise at “Daikanyama Address 17dixsept” in Shibuya district, a shopping center located right next to the Daikanyama Station. Our shop selling local sake was also invited and participated for two days during a weekend. The “Daikanyama Address 17dixsept” is a shopping zone located inside an urban shopping complex, consisting of a 36-floor tower above ground on the site of the former Dojunkai Daikanyama Apartment, a housing complex consisting of approximately 500 homes, the Daikanyama Sports Plaza, etc. 
Dix-sept translates to seventeen in French, named after their lot number 17 in the Daikanyama district. Four shops lined up in a shared space on the facility premises and sold merchandise not usually sold by the tenants to take a new approach to customers who utilize the facility.  
Retailers that participated for two days consisted of my local sake shop, an Asian variety store, a flower shop, a vegan shop on one day, and a specialty gift shop the next. It was rumored that the timing the cherry blossoms will bloom could be announced early in the week of the event, and the weather was forecast to be sunny for cherry blossom viewing. Since Daikanyama is close to Meguro River, a renowned spot to view cherry blossoms, my shop narrowed down our merchandise to only two sake sets for flower viewing – a set of five aluminum cans of Nihonsakari sake with plastic champagne glasses and a three-sampler Nagatorogura sake set. Unfortunately, the rumored announcement on the timing the cherry blossoms would bloom never occurred, ultimately announced two weeks after the event.  
Not only did the cherry blossoms not bloom during the weekend of the event, but it also rained with low turnout, both significantly contrary to expectations. Other shops near each other welcomed regulars from other shops. My shop also benefited from their customers since most of the sake sets I prepared sold, and the weekend ended with decent sales.  
I had many takeaways from my first attempt at selling merchandise in the chic Daikanyama shopping complex. Staff members shopped at each other’s shops, and I also became friendly with the shop owners. My onsite pop-up shop was personally a fruitful experience. If I was to be greedy however, I think the facility needs to think of ways to enliven the event. Eventually, I think lining up sake breweries to organize “The Daikanyama Sake Shopping District” would be an interesting idea if I’m asked to participate again.       
東京地酒散歩(The 代官山商店)
 春の訪れがもうすぐそこまで来ている3月の終わりに、代官山の駅のすぐ側にある商業施設「代官山アドレス・ディセ」にて「The 代官山商店」と銘打った渋谷区のニッチな物販店を集めたイベントが開催された。地酒を販売する当店にも声がかかり、土日の二日間参加することとなった。代官山アドレス・ディセは旧同潤会代官山アパートの跡地に建設された代官山アドレスという地上36階建のタワーを始めとする約500戸の集合住宅とショッピングゾーンや渋谷区代官山スポーツプラザなどから構成される都市型複合施設の中のショッピングゾーンのことである。ディセとはフランス語で17の意味らしく、代官山の17番地にあることから名づけられたとのこと。その施設内の共用スペースに4店舗並べ、日頃のテナントとは違う販売をすることで、施設を利用する人々に新たなアプローチをしたいといったイベントの様であった。
二日間出店するのは地酒販売の当店と、アジアン雑貨、フラワーショップ、日替わりでビーガンショップとセレクトギフトショップであった。イベントの週の前半に桜の開花宣言が出るとか出ないとかで、週末はお花見日和との情報があり、代官山という立地上、花見の有名スポット目黒川も近いことから、当店は完全に販売商品をお花見セットに絞り、日本盛のボトル缶5本セットにプラシャンパングラス付きと長瀞蔵の3種飲み比べセットの2アイテムのみに特化し販売を行なった。しかし、蓋を開けてみると開花宣言予測は大きく外れ、週末になっても宣言が出る事は無く、結果開花宣言が出たのは2週間後であった。                                                        イベント当日に桜が咲いていないだけでなく、2日間雨が降り、施設の来店客数も少なく、大きく予想を外すこととなった。他店は元々の店舗が近隣ということもあり、常連客らしき人達が来ていたので、その流れに便乗させていただく形となったが、用意していた酒は殆ど売れ、結果オーライで二日間を終えることが出来た。渋谷の端っこからオシャレな代官山への初チャレンジで、学びも多く、店舗間での買い物もあり、他店のオーナーとも仲良くなり、個人的には意味のある出張出店だったが、欲を言えばもっと盛り上がる為に、施設側の打ち出し方を考える必要があると感じた。いつかは酒蔵を並べた「The 代官山日本酒商店」なども面白いのではないかと思う。まあ、次回以降も声がかかればの話なのだが。
#alljapannews #daikanyama #japanese #japanesefood #japanesesake #jizake #sake #tokyo

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Tokyo Jizake Strolling (restaurant Jinsei Sakaba inside the New Shinbashi Building) 

By Ryuji Takahashi

Shinbashi is a renowned business district where many shops line the streets, reminiscent of the Showa era (1926-1989). One venue familiar to many is the New Shinbashi Building, a large multi-tenant shopping mall on the Hibiyaguchi side of Shinbashi Station, occupied from the first basement floor to the fourth floor by many restaurants, a ticket broker, massage parlors, and shops targeting businessmen. Some call it a mall for old men. The Shinbashi Station west exit started as a black market after World War II and evolved until the current New Shinbashi Building was constructed in 1971.             
The interior of the retro, chaotic mall is long cherished as a mecca for businessmen. Many new commercial buildings were constructed recently to lease retail space to swanky shops featured on TV. The New Shinbashi Building built over fifty years ago offers a heartwarming nostalgic ambiance of the Showa Era, not felt in new stylish buildings. The basement of the New Shinbashi Building is home to many restaurants that serve alcohol during business hours on weekdays. Since I had a day off during the week with nowhere to go on my day off, I walked many rounds inside the basement floor of the New Shinbashi Building like a migratory fish.    
I saw “fans of alcoholic beverages” here and there partaking early in the day. I started to ponder ordering a glass of beer when a female restaurant worker greeted me and said, “We’re serving alcohol right now.” I quickly accepted the invitation and entered the restaurant “Jinsei Sakaba.” What a suitable restaurant name for me, I thought. The worker said, “If you want to enjoy more than one drink, all-you-can-drink is a better deal.” I quickly agreed and selected the 1 hour all-you-can-drink option for 980 JPY. First, I ordered draft beer. 
The cold beer was delicious after walking around inside the mall.       
The food menu listed Chinese style izakaya menu items. I ordered a chilled wakame seaweed salad. My appetite switched on as soon as I took the first bite. I ordered another glass of draft beer, then fried gyoza, Japanese-style omelet with spicy Pollack roe, and fried rice. All menu items were delicious, and the food was served quickly. I got into a lively conversation with the restaurant staff as I ate, and the first hour passed quickly. Of course, I exceeded my time limit and ordered several green tea highballs and shochu highballs. 
Two hours of fun passed quickly before I realized it. The food was delicious, the restaurant was comfortable, and the price was economical at this wonderful restaurant. The New Shinbashi Building is home to this excellent restaurant, currently under consideration for redevelopment due to deterioration. Although it would be sad to see this retro and chaotic ambiance close their doors, changes in the local landscape are inevitable in any era, surely, “all that remains of a warriors’ dream.”  

#Shinbashi #alljapannews #japanese #japanesefood #japanesesake #jizake #sake #tokyo

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Tokyo Jizake Strolling (Shibamata Taishakuten)

By Ryuji Takahashi  

I visited Shibamata Taishakuten Nichiren-shu Buddhist Temple early in the New Year. It’s been thirty years since I moved to Tokyo, yet I’ve never visited the temple once. Since I’ve never seen the film series, “It’s Tough Being a Man,” I was convinced I had no reason to visit. I was proven wrong however. Shibamata Taishakuten is a reputable Nichiren Buddhist Temple built by two monks during the Edo Period (1603-1868) in 1629 (the current building was built after the Meiji Period (1868-1912)). The official temple name is “Hyoei-zan Daikyoji,” yet often referred to locally as “Taishakuten.”     
The temple is mentioned in literary works such as “To the Spring Equinox and Beyond” by author Soseki Natsume. More recently, the temple is most renowned due to the Japanese film series, “It’s Tough Being a Man.” Therefore, a statue of the main character, Tora-san, stands in front of the Shibamata Station. I rode the train to the Keisei-takasago Station and took the Keisei Kanamachi Line to the Shibamata Station. Since the wait time to switch trains was fifteen minutes, and the walking distance from Keisei-takasago Station was also fifteen minutes, I started walking towards Shibamata Station.     
The pathway to the shrine starts in front of the station. Passengers deboarded the train and immediately started taking photos standing next to the statue of Tora-san. Several restaurants stood in front of the railroad station. It seemed many restaurants served yakisoba, perhaps a local specialty. Walking on the bustling pathway to the shrine, I encountered many pedestrians with skewered mugwort dumplings and sweet sake in hand as they passed by. I regretted not visiting this bustling pathway to the shrine for the past thirty years.    
A newcomer to Taishakuten, I eyed the restaurant Freshwater Fish Cuisine, where a long line of guests stood at the front waiting for the eatery to open, and the rice cracker shop, as I passed by without stopping. I thought to first visit the shrine and headed towards Taishaku-do, where a long line of worshippers stood at the Nitenmon entrance. Surprisingly, I quickly reached the front of the Taishakuten and visited the shrine. I drew a fortune slip before returning to the pathway to the shrine just after noon. More visitors have come since I arrived, and the pathway to the shrine was bustling more than before.       

Long lines formed in front of shops selling skewered mugwort dumplings and rice crackers. Since I came a long way to Shibamata, I bought mugwort dumplings at the shop “Toraya” on my way back to the railroad station. I ate as I strolled until I entered the izakaya restaurant “Haru,” once featured on a TV program that explores pubs. I saw no local patrons inside, perhaps due to soaring prices around the New Year that targets tourists. At first, I was the only customer, which made me nervous. However, groups came in afterwards and the restaurant was soon packed to capacity.     
Afterwards, I strolled along the railroad tracks towards Keisei Kanamachi Station in the opposite direction from where I came, enjoying the chilly breeze along the way to sober up. I enjoyed another drink at the Kanamachi Station and headed to Nippori Station, where I enjoyed hot sake at a standing bar in the Yanaka Ginza shopping district before I returned home. I realized during this visit that I should visit other renowned hot spots in Tokyo, a great start to the new year.    

#alljapannews #japanese #japanesefood #japanesesake #jizake #sake #tokyo

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Tokyo Jizake Strolling (Year-end sales event)

By Ryuji Takahashi
Three sake breweries were invited to organize the 2023 year-end sales event at Kanemasu Brewery (Shibata city, Niigata prefecture). Thursday, December 28 felt like a half-day workday, yet many visitors arrived to purchase nigori sake “Hatsuyuki,” a popular nigori sake of this brewery. Some customers purchased sake in bulk since Kanemasu Brewery offers few bottled sake products. The sake products featured by Kanemasu Brewery were Junmai Daiginjo “Hatsuhana,” stored at freezing temperatures for two years; and “Kanemasu 36-year-old sake.”      
The container of “Kanemasu 36-year-old sake,” aged for thirty-six years since 1986, is eye-catching. The 360 ml titanium custom-made double wall tumbler was made by the renowned Horie Titanium Co., based in the Tsubame-Sanjo area. After the aged sake is finished, the uneven interior of the tumbler ensures silky froth beer foam. The 360 ml aged sake is priced at approximately 40000 JPY. Explaining the value of this aged sake to customers was very challenging.   
The sales event on December 29 featured “Nagatorogura” by Hakuro Brewery (Nagaoka city, Niigata prefecture) and new sake by both the Hakuro Brewery and Fujisaki Sobe Shoten (Nagatoro city, Saitama prefecture) of the same group. Hakuro Brewery featured their new sake, Junmai-Daiginjo Nigori Sake, and “Sanzui Junmai-Daiginjo Non-filtered Unprocessed Sake,” bottled in low volumes. New sake by Nagatorogura is unprocessed, non-filtered Junmai Ginjo sake with a flavor like fresh green apple juice. Customers came out in droves to the shopping district this day after completing their work for the year to prepare for New Year’s eve and New Year’s day. Many customers purchased fresh sake available only this time of the year. 
Nihonsakari was featured the next day, soon to become a classic sake featured during the sales event on December 30. The special set packaged in the Jinkichi bag (handbag made of durable canvas fabric used to transport sake from the sake shop) consisted of the Ginjo with gold leaf, Daiginjo with gold leaf, and “Souhana Junmai Ginjo,” also used when the Emperor ascended the throne, all products that suit the New Year ambiance. Sales personnel at Nihonsakari taught me the basics of selling sake before my shop opened. For the first time in over a decade, we teamed up so I could learn how to sell sake from a seller of a national sake brand, which is different from how local sake is sold. 
On the final day of New Year’s eve on December 31, two part-time workers were invited to sell out the rest of the inventory of the year. High-end sake sold out in no time, along with various new sake and New Year’s sake products that all sold out and concluded the year by 21:00. 
It is truly unusual to see this much sake sold at other times of the year. The phenomenon of high sake sales raises the question if domestic sake consumption is declining in Japan. If sake sales of this volume are consistent year-round, it would be safe to say the Japanese sake industry has a bright future ahead. 

*Jinkichi bag: handbag made of durable canvas fabric used to transport sake from the sake shop  
*甚吉袋: 酒屋からお酒を運ぶ時に使われていた丈夫な帆布生地でできている手提げ
#alljapannews #japanese #japanesefood #japanesesake #jizake #sake #tokyo

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Tokyo Jizake Strolling (the very hectic month of December)

By Ryuji Takahashi
I continue to push myself despite feeling exhausted during the month of December, a busy and hectic month with no chance to rest until the new year. First on the schedule is the in-store sales event for Kondo Brewery (Kondo Shuzo Co., Ltd.) in Gunma prefecture. I happened to have new freshly squeezed sake, so I held the in-store sales event to sell the new sake and Junmai Ginjo “Kurobi” brewed using a centrifugal separator, winner of the Gold prize during the New York World Wine & Spirits Convention, over two days in the bitter cold weather.       
Kondo Brewery is the producer of the sake brand “Akagiyama.” Their flagship product is the Honjozo “Akagiyama Dry,” seemingly available in convenience stores, drug stores, and many stores that sell daily necessities. Seventy to eighty percent of this sake is consumed locally in Gunma prefecture, while seasonal and special sake are often not released in other prefectures. In Tokyo, only two stores including my own store deal directly with the brewery. At our store, customers from Gunma prefecture buy this sake product in bulk. 
The first day of the sales event concluded with an evening banquet at the brewery with lively discussions about sake, audio, and vehicles. The following week, I attended “An evening of Italian cuisine with sake” at the Italian restaurant “Karibe-tei.” Surprisingly, the event was attended by a record number of guests who feasted on luxury food ingredients such as lobster, shirako (soft roe), calf, and fresh oysters with eighteen sake bottles - nine different sake brands of two bottles each - the highest number of bottles consumed to date. The concluding dish was the bubbling Champagne Risotto. Guests took photos and videos of the bubbling Champagne Risotto.        
 The last collaborative event of the year featuring Italian cuisine ended successfully. I hosted the year-end hot pot dinner event with unrestricted time and appetizers brought by guests the following week. The final week consisted of three in-store sales events at Kanemasu Brewery in Niigata prefecture on the 28th, Hakuro Sake Brewery Co., Ltd. in Niigata prefecture on the 29th, and Nihonsakari Co., Ltd. in Hyogo prefecture on the 30th, leading into the New Year’s Eve sales event, the busiest event of the year.   
I was writing this article mid-December without encountering any major issue. I felt rushed to finish all my work before the end of the year, as I have many events and business trips scheduled in 2024. I feel deeply grateful for this past year that ended without any major injury or illness affecting my business, and for all the many customers who supported my business this year. I look forward to another year of sake fans consuming a lot of sake in 2024. 

#alljapannews #japanese #japanesefood #japanesesake #jizake #sake #tokyo

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Tokyo Jizake Strolling (World Sake Day)

By Ryuji Takahashi

The Japanese celebrate World Sake Day on October 1, marked with various sake events organized nationwide. October 1 is designated as World Sake Day for several reasons. Traditionally, the sake brewing season started in October and continued until September the following year. Therefore, the sake brewing year traditionally started on October 1. 

According to the Chinese zodiac cycle, the rooster is the tenth of twelve animals. Therefore, October is designated as the “Year of the Rooster,” read as “tori” in Japanese, but originally a pictograph indicating the shape of a pot, indicative of sake. October is traditionally the time to harvest new rice, now shifting due to global warming. Therefore, this explanation will no longer be valid to explain why October 1 is designated as World Sake Day.       

Anyway, various sake events are organized throughout Japan to celebrate World Sake Day. I overheard several colleagues questioning not doing anything to celebrate World Sake Day as professionals in the sake industry and decided to help revitalize my local community by arranging the sake specialty shop I manage to collaborate with Taiwanese restaurant “Seventh Son Restaurant,” in the same commercial district, to organize a sake tasting event.    

“Seventh Son Restaurant” serves authentic Taiwanese cuisine in Fudo-dori Shotengai, a commercial district in the Hatsudai district of Shibuya ward, Tokyo; celebrating thirty years in business. Mr. Lin, the owner, is a former soldier of the Taiwanese Army turned chef. His restaurant is featured in various TV segments, such as the entertainment show “Lunch ON!” on NHK World that introduces lunches enjoyed by Japanese businessmen and workers nationwide. 





#NHK #WorldSakeDay #alljapannews #japanese #japanesefood #japanesesake #jizake #sake #tokyo

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Tokyo Jizake Strolling (an evening of Italian cuisine with sake)

By Ryuji Takahashi

The scorching summer heat just started to ease slightly in Tokyo, yet still too hot to change out of short sleeved shirts in early September, when the “Fourth evening of Italian cuisine and sake” was held at Italian restaurant Karibetei in the Shimokitazawa district of Setagaya ward. Reservations instantly fill to capacity for this very popular event organized once roughly every three months. Seasonal ingredients and sake are selected for each event. For this latest event, fall and summer sake selections were mixed with products available year-round and some fall ingredients to serve many delicious dishes to the guests’ hearts’ content. 

Since the summer heat was still scorching, the course served started with Chilled Peach Soup Topped with Prosciutto, Chilled Bagna Cauda Bagna Freida, and Horse Carpaccio shipped directly from Kumamoto prefecture – horse loin and mane are chewed thoroughly together the local way. Afterwards, Uni (sea urchin) and Fruit Tomato Salad concluded the first half of the course, followed by fall seasonal dishes such as Oven-baked Sarde a Beccafio, Mackerel Pike Sicilian Spaghetti, and Beef Tagliata. As we started to feel full, the meal concluded with Champagne Risotto.     

Champagne Risotto is prepared by pouring champagne with risotto lined around it in the center of a pot. The simmering champagne mixes with risotto, complete with cheese sprinkled at the end, a very interesting feast for the eyes as well.  Lastly, watermelon was served as dessert and the satisfying meal concluded with every stomach full. 

The courses were served with four sake selections from Niigata prefecture -  the well carbonated “SHUKUFUKU Yellow Label” by Sasaiwai Brewery (Niigata prefecture), summer sake “Hakuro Junmai Daiginjo” by Hakuro Brewery (Niigata prefecture), an autumn sake with a lasting aftertaste, “Hiyaoroshi Junmai Daiginjo Takarazukushi” by Kanemasu Brewery (Niigata prefecture), and “Cowboy Yamahai” by Shiokawa Sake Brewery Co. (Niigata prefecture). The four sake selections from Niigata prefecture were followed by two satisfying bottles of sake, the full-bodied and crisp “Honshu-ichi Muroka-Junmai-Ginjo” by Umeda Sake Brewery (Hiroshima prefecture), and the deeply flavorful “Akagisan Junmai Hiyaoroshi” by Kondo Shuzo Co. (Gunma prefecture), concluded with slightly sweet and fruity sake selections such as “Nagatoro Junmai Daiginjo” by Fujisaki Sobe Shoten (Saitama prefecture) and “Ichinomiya TANE Draft” by Ichinomiya Sake Brewing (Shimane prefecture), totaling eight sake selections served two bottles each, totaling sixteen sake bottles consumed in two and a half hours.  

A lot of preparation is needed for this event, but seeing satisfied participants heading home is the motivation to keep going, said Chef Karibe. Participants of various ages in their twenties to sixties attended. The speed at which the food and sake disappeared was incredible. The next event is planned around November. We look forward to seeing the smiles of many participants as they get comfortably tipsy. 


 真夏の厳しい暑さが少しだけやわらぎ始めたが、まだまだ半袖から衣替えは出来ない9月の頭に、「第四回イタリアンと日本酒の夕べ」が世田谷区下北沢のイタリア料理店かりべ亭で開催された。この企画は毎回好評で予約もあっという間に埋まる会で、だいたい3か月に1回のペースで開催されている。毎回季節の食材や酒に特化して行われるのだが、今回は秋の酒・夏の酒・通年商品を混在させ、食材も少しだけ秋を意識して、後はとにかく美味い料理を沢山食べて欲しいというコンセプトだった。まだまだ暑い日が続いていたので、料理は冷たい桃のスープ生ハム乗せから始まり、冷たいバーニャカウダのバーニャフレッダ、熊本直送の馬肉のカルパッチョはロースとたてがみを同時に口に入れてよく噛んで食べるといった熊本スタイル。その後、雲丹とフルーツトマトの冷菜と冷たい前半が終わり、オーブンで焼いた鰯のベッカフィーゴ、秋刀魚のシチリア風スパゲッティと秋の雰囲気の料理が進み、牛肉のタリアータでお腹も膨らんできたところで、締めのシャンパンリゾット。このシャンパンリゾットは鍋の中心にシャンパンを置き周りにリゾットを敷き詰め、吹き出したシャンパンがリゾットと混ざり、最後にチーズをかけて完成という見た目にも面白いリゾットである。そしてデザートにスイカを食べてお腹いっぱいで終了。そんな料理に合わせる日本酒は新潟笹祝酒造のガス感の強いスパークリング「祝吹イエローラベル多酸」、新潟の柏露酒造の夏酒、「柏露純米大吟醸生囲い」、新潟金升酒造の落ち着いた秋酒、「ひやおろし 純米大吟醸 宝づくし」、新潟塩川酒造の「願人山廃純米」と新潟が4種、広島梅田酒造場のボディ感の中にキレのある「本洲一無濾過純米吟醸」、群馬近藤酒造の味わい深い「赤城山純米ひやおろし」と飲みごたえがある2本に続き、埼玉藤崎宗兵衛商店の「長瀞蔵純米吟醸瓶火入れ」、島根県一宮酒造の「壱呑屋TANE生酒」とやや甘めでフルーティな酒の全8種類×2本の16本が2時間半でほぼ無くなってしまった。とにかく準備が大変な会なのだが、参加者が皆大満足で帰ってくれるのが、続けていける原動力になっていると苅部シェフは語る。参加者も20代から60代と幅が広い中で、あっという間に料理と酒が消えていく光景は圧巻である。次回は多分11月頃の予定だが、また沢山の参加者と笑顔と酔っ払いに期待したい。
#alljapannews #italian #italianrestaurant #japanese #japanesesake #jizake #sake #tokyo

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Tokyo Jizake Strolling (Small and Medium-Size Enterprises Summit) 

By Ryuji Takahashi

Tokyo officially welcomed summer in July. I exhibited a booth to showcase sake at a social gathering during the Small and Medium-Size Enterprises Summit 2023 (The 28th Tokyo Management Research Conference), as requested by the All Japan Committee of the Associations of Small-and Medium-Size Enterprises that aids small and medium-sized business owners to interact with owners of companies in other industries to encourage members to consult with each other, study together, and create competitive companies and business environments.

Approximately thirty branch offices by region are normally active, mostly within their branch offices. Once a year, however, a branch office in Tokyo gathers to rent out the thirtieth floor of the Shinjuku NS building and invite approximately 300 members to participate, deepen friendships, and learn together during the Small and Medium-Size Enterprises Summit.  

Various study sessions and seminars are held throughout the day that concludes with a social gathering. I was requested to exhibit and serve sake to share my expertise on sake during this social gathering. I was grateful for this opportunity as I had no lecture or exhibit at large-scale events to attend due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Shinjuku NS Building was close by, only fifteen minutes from my sake shop. 

I prepared ten 1,800 ml bottles of summer sake products and arranged for a sales representative to bring Nagatoro Gura by Fujisaki Sobei Shoten as the special sake of the day and entered the venue. In the largest conference room on the thirtieth floor was a large booth prepared as the main feature of the social gathering. I was surprised by the large scale of this social gathering, but also felt excitement I hadn’t felt in a while.   

Guests gradually started to fill the venue and the social gathering kicked off at 6:00 PM. Bottled beer was placed at each buffet-style table where guests were seated, with catered snacks placed at the center of the venue. Wary to approach the catered snacks at first, a crowd quickly formed where I introduced ten brands of sake products as I poured glasses.  

I glanced over my shoulder to see a crowd gather before the sake brewery and sake booths packed with guests, who asked questions about sake and my sake shop with some questions directed at me, which helped to advertise our business effectively. This opportunity helped me to observe and gather data on which sake guests select at first glance based on introductions, which sake captivated the guests’ attention, and sample repeatedly, valuable information for future product development with sake breweries. The executive director who organized this event seemed pleased, and the exhibit ended with success. I returned to the shop, cleaned up, and happily headed out for a drink to celebrate.  




#alljapannews #japanese #japanesefood #japanesesake #jizake #sake #tokyo

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Tokyo Jizake Strolling: (Sake Nagatoro Gura Paired with Teppanyaki)

By Ryuji Takahashi

The rainy season started in Tokyo. Just when the rain was expected to continue, the weather suddenly turned scorching hot. Whether it’s rainy or sunny, an umbrella ultimately comes in handy in early summer, when teppanyaki and izakaya restaurant “Teppan” in the Nakano ward of Tokyo held a pairing event serving teppanyaki cuisine paired with sake from the Fujisaki Sobei Shoten Sake Brewery based in Nagatoro town, Saitama prefecture.  

As reported previously, Fujisaki Sobei Shoten Sake Brewery brewed sake in collaboration with merchants from Omni (modern-day Hino town, Gamo district of Shiga prefecture) and master sake brewers? from the Echigo province (modern-day Niigata prefecture). The brewery eventually relocated to Nagatoro town, Saitama prefecture to access pure water used to mainly brew small volumes of “Nagatoro Gura” - a fragrant, non-filtered, and unprocessed sake.  

Sake “Nagotoro Gura” was noticed by the owner of teppanyaki and izakaya restaurant “Teppan” in Tokyo, the venue of the pairing event. On this day, a sales representative of Fujisaki Sobei Shoten Sake Brewery elaborated on the sake product, followed by a special full-course dinner prepared by a renowned chef at a Japanese restaurant, where first-time customers (not referred to the restaurant by regular patrons) are turned away. 

The special full-course dinner started with two appetizers, “Tofu Paste with Fruits” and “Seasonal Vegetables Marinated in a Spicy Sauce,” followed by “Oyama Fried Chicken with Apricot Chutney,” “Cod Meuniere and New Potato Potage,” “Gyoza Dumpling filled with Minced Duck and Crown Daisy, served with Coconut Vinegar Soy Sauce,” “Kure’s Navy Style Braised Beef and Potatoes with Tomato Farcies,” “Okonomiyaki (prepared specially for this event) with Musashi Barley Pork,” all delicious menu selections that compliment the flavor of sake. Lastly, the meal concluded with dessert, “Monaka Catalana with Sake Lees Sauce.” I later learned the owner personally headed to Nagatoro town to purchase produce and other ingredients other than meat that further enhances the paired flavors.     

This thoughtfully prepared menu was paired with four sake selections: “Nagatoro Gura Non-filtered Unprocessed Cloudy Sake” with sufficient carbonation, “Nagatoro Gura Junmai Ginjo Non-filtered Unprocessed Sake” with fragrances of apple and pear, “Nagatoro Junmai Non-filtered Unprocessed Sake” with refreshing fragrances of banana and pineapple, and “Nagatoro Pasteurized Junmai” with a gentle fragrance capitalizing on the characteristics of sake rice Sake Musashi, harvested in Saitama prefecture. 

The sake selections that pair well with fruits and vegetables left a refreshing aftertaste, even after the meat dishes were finished. Guests seemed quite content from enjoying sake products by Nagatoro Gura Fujisaki Sobei Shoten Sake Brewery, not readily available outside of Saitama prefecture; paired with delicious cuisine prepared by a renowned chef at a Japanese restaurant, where first-time customers (not referred to the restaurant by regular patrons) are turned away. 



#alljapannews #japanese #japanesefood #japanesesake #jizake #sake #tokyo

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Tokyo Jizake Strolling (Evening of Italian Cuisine Paired with Japanese sake)

By Ryuji Takahashi

Just when humidity was first detected in the air in Tokyo, Italian restaurant “Karibe-tei” in Shimokitazawa district (introduced in a previous issue) hosted the event, “Third Evening of Italian Cuisine Paired with Japanese Sake.”    

The theme of the cuisine for this event was “early summer,” consisting of: ① Mozzarella Burrata and Prosciutto, ② Sicilian-style Eggplant Caponata, ③ Kirishima Chicken and Celery Wrapped and Deep-fried in Pate Brick, ④ Yellowtail Grilled Tapenade Sauce from Kagoshima Prefecture, ⑤ Dried Mullet Roe and Pistachio Pasta from Sardegna, ⑥ Beef Skirt and Bavette Steak, ⑦ Duck and Foie Gras Risotto, and ⑧ Vanilla Ice Cream with Strawberry Grappa Flambé. 

Japanese sake served during this event were selected for their refreshing flavors suitable for the rainy season from late spring through summer as follows: ① “Shukufuku Yellow-label,” a new series of sparkling sake released by Sasaiwai Brewery that took two years of trial-and-error to produce, including the sample sake product. Opening the seal released fine foams that raised the sediments sunken to the bottom of the bottle of this beautiful, milky-white, cloudy sparkling sake. Guests toasted with Shukufuku sparkling sake to kick-off the event, followed by ② “Takizawa Junmai-Ginjo Draft” and ③ “Hiya-live Storage Sake” by Shinsyu Meijyo Brewery, ④ “Sanzui Junmai Daiginjo Unfiltered Unprocessed Sake” and ⑤ “Hakuro Junmai Daiginjo” by Hakuro Shuzo, ⑥ “Nagatoro Junmai Unfiltered Unprocessed Sake” by Fujisaki Sobei Shoten, and ⑦ “Kamakiri-shouzu Junmai” by Kanemasu Brewery, a total of seven different categories of sake in fifteen 720 ml bottles, all from Fujisake Sobei Shoten Sake Brewery 

This event was attended by fifteen guests, with each guest calculated to enjoy one 720 ml bottle of sake. The real thrill of this event was to ensure each guest was stuffed with delicious cuisine and enjoyed a nice buzz on their way home. The guests varied in age from their twenties into their sixties, all fans of Italian cuisine and sake, who hyped up the event. It’s surprising every time this event is held how each tipsy guest never gets into any trouble on their way home. We’re truly blessed. This event, organized without any regard to profit or loss, is so popular among guests that the guests beg organizers to raise their participation fee to ensure the event will continue well into the future.  

From the operation side, removing any concern for profit rate and financial state, etc., allows chefs and service providers to prioritize seeing the smiles of satisfied customers as their top priority. Hearing genuine feedback from customers who love to eat and drink sake helps professionals capitalize on the motivational benefit of getting back to the basics. Not to sound too altruistic, but there aren’t sufficient resources to hold this event multiple times a year. Although it’s not yet known when the next event will be organized, we hope fans of Italian cuisine and Japanese sake will look forward to it.   


 東京が湿気を空気に感じ始めた頃、以前も紹介した下北沢に有るイタリア料理店「かりべ亭」にて第三回イタリアンと日本酒の夕べというイベントが行われた。今回は「初夏」をキーワードに料理は、①モツァレラブラータと生ハム、②シチリア風茄子のカポナータ、③霧島地鶏とセロリのパートブリック包み揚げ、④鹿児島県産活みやび勘八のグリルタプナードソース、⑤サルディーニャ産からすみとピスタチオのスパゲティ、⑥牛ハラミのバベットステーキ、⑦鴨とフォアグラのリゾット、⑧苺のグラッパフランベをかけたバニラアイスクリームの全八品。日本酒は、①笹祝酒造が試作品も含めて2年間、数多のトライ&エラーを繰り返しながらようやくたどり着いたスパークリング日本酒の新シリーズ「祝吹・イエローラベル多酸」。抜栓をすることで瓶底に沈んだオリがきめ細かな泡によって持ちあがり、見た目的にも乳白色が美しい泡酒である。この祝吹を乾杯酒として、②③長野信州銘醸「瀧澤 純米吟醸生酒」「ひや 生貯蔵原酒」、④⑤新潟柏露酒造「さんずい 純米大吟醸無濾過生原酒」「柏露 純米大吟醸生囲い」、⑥埼玉藤崎宗兵衛商店「長瀞 純米直汲み無濾過生原酒」、⑦新潟金升酒造「カマキリショウズ 呑み切り純米」、の全七種類720ml瓶で15本、全て梅雨から夏にさっぱり飲める酒を用意した。参加人数は15名なので一人4合瓶1本が飲める計算で、お腹いっぱいになってもらい、しっかり酔っぱらって帰ってもらうのがこのイベントの醍醐味である。参加者の年齢層も幅広く20代から60代までのイタリアン好きで酒好きな人達が集まり大いに盛り上がった。毎回、泥酔者でトラブルが起こらないのが不思議なくらい参加者に恵まれている会だと思う。利益度外視のこの会は参加者から心配になるから参加費を上げてくれと頼まれるくらい高評価を得ている。運営側としては日々頭の中でモヤモヤしている利益率や経営状態などを頭の中から外すことにより、お客様の満足した笑顔で料理人やサービスマンとしての初心に戻り、食べるのが好きで酒飲むのが好きな人達の本音を聞くことにより、自分たちをもう一度原点に戻し見直すという大きい心の利益を獲得しているのである。などとカッコ良い事を言っているが、当然年に何度も出来る程余裕があるわけではない。次回はいつになるか解らないが、イタリアンと日本酒好きには是非期待していて欲しい。
#alljapannews #italianfood #japanese #japanesefood #japanesesake #jizake #sake #tokyo

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