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NHK “The Mark of Beauty”

I covered in my previous column that many media outlets are recently covering Japanese sake. In this issue, I’d like to introduce the NHK program, “The Mark of Beauty” (
Actor Masao Kusakari hosts this innovative, artistic TV program to introduce various hidden joys in everyday life. This program introduced Japanese sake, and how sake is produced today.
“Koji” (rice malt) was filmed at Nambu Bijin for this program.
This program introduced the traditional Futa-koji preparation method, and explained how this method contributed to the history and traditions of the Nambu Toji in Iwate prefecture, the largest Toji guild in Japan.
Also, the sake yeast widely used today is the BSJ (Brewing Society of Japan) yeast from the Brewing Association and prefectural yeast originally cultured in each prefecture. Also, this program introduced natural “flower yeast” the Tokyo University of Agriculture succeeded in culturing from wild flowers by isolation culture.
Collecting yeast from nature suitable for producing Japanese sake is very difficult. Not only is achieving this a great success, this program also introduced sake brewers utilizing this yeast in actual sake products with great success.
I’m truly grateful for this program that introduced authentic, traditional sake production culture. For Japanese nationals not very knowledgeable about Japanese sake, and foreign nationals who know even less about Japanese sake, I hope they learn about sake production through this program.



by Kosuke Kuji
#NHK #美の壺

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Tokyo Jizake Strolling (Self-Containment Mood)

Tokyo Jizake Strolling (Self-Co... Tokyo Jizake Strolling (Self-Co...
By Ryuji Takahashi

Currently, the impact of COVID-19 Coronavirus is felt worldwide as many regions are self-confined to their homes. The virus is surely a serious problem not to be taken lightly, for which we cannot do much except to pray for the doctors and hope for the best as we take precautions like gargling, thorough hand-washing, etc. Many Japanese corporations instructed employees not to attend seminars or parties where ten or more people gather, which needless to say, prevents attendance at Japanese sake events and other events where an unknown number of people gather. No one can risk exposure to the Coronavirus by toasting with sake, so self-containment is the obviously correct measure to take. However, our organizers who proposed the sake events are troubled.
The venue was secured, the fliers were distributed, tickets were sold, and yet, the virus caused cancellations. It would be easier to accept if all attendees cancelled, yet only half cancelled, leaving the organizers pondering whether or not to proceed with the sake event. Our sake shop was also involved in organizing the event, yet the numerous cancellations left only several people still willing to attend. However, due to the passionate pleas to hold the event from the remaining customers still willing to attend, we changed the sake event to a dinner event with a sake brewery to welcome these guests. We invited Aichi Brewery from Aichi District, Shiga Prefecture to come and promote how the flavor of the same type of new sake can change dramatically depending on the tank used.
Sake favored by sake breweries may not always be popular among the general public. Therefore, understanding the gap between the sake producer and consumer awareness is a meaningful purpose to hold this dinner event. Cancelling the sake event would mean the loss of an opportunity to research sake completed by sake brewers (new products). Producing sake that sells require marketing research. To lose the opportunity for this research could deal a huge blow to the sake brewers as well. Currently, customers are not eating out at restaurants in Japan, rumored to close and incur significant losses during the cherry-blossom viewing season, when restaurants normally make great money. Similarly, sake shops are also hit by less business transactions with restaurants. Breweries will also feel this fiscal impact as well.
Even when the restaurant industry returns to business as usual, their business will still be impacted if sake shops and breweries are still closed. Currently, I’m sorry to say to these restaurants that we consumers have no choice but to drink sake at home. The demand among younger generations and female consumers to drink sake at home is recently declining. Under these circumstances, why not rediscover the joy of drinking sake at home? Purchasing your favorite type of sake bottle, sake, appetizers, and enjoying your sake leisurely at home while watching TV is fun. Novels containing scenes where sake is consumed can also stimulate one’s appetite to keep drinking. It will take a long time for sake breweries, sake shops, and restaurants to return to business as usual. However, please be careful with your health, pray, and enjoy your sake at home.


#SelfContainment #COVID19 #Coronavirus

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Japanese sake and chocolate

Japanese sake and chocolate Japanese sake and chocolate Japanese sake and chocolate Japanese sake and chocolate Japanese sake and chocolate
By Ayaka Ito

An event of pairing of Japanese sake and chocolate was held. The chocolate for this event was picked from the selection from Dandelion Chocolate shop, one of the very few places in the world, where craft chocolate is made from single-origin cacao beans. The chocolate bars of Dandelion Chocolate are made with only cacao beans and cane sugar, and do not contain cocoa butter or vanilla essence. Their unique flavors come from natural cacao beans produced by fermentation and roasting. For this event, 4 kinds of chocolate were ordered from their main shop in San Francisco.

Pairing details

1. Piura Blanco, Peru and Ouka, Ginjo, Yamagata Prefecture
Tasting note: Green grapes and maple
In this pairing, the acidity of green grapes and the aroma and sweetness of Ouka go well together, and make both taste so much better than when tasted individually.

2. Kokoa Kamili, Tanzania and Shuhai, Junmai, Kumamoto Prefecture
Tasting note: Mango and citrus
In this pairing, the citrus flavor in the chocolate, combined with Shuhai’s citrus fruit-like aroma that resembles orange flowers and subtle sweetness, create a good harmony.

3. Mantuano, Venezuela and Tedorigawa, Yamahai, Ishikawa Prefecture
Tasting note: Roasted almonds, chocolate fudge, and sea salt
Pairing with Tedorigawa brings out the richness of chocolate produced by the roasting of beans, and gently embraces it.

4. Maya Mountain, Belize and Kamoizumi, Junmai-Ginjo undiluted sake, Hiroshima Prefecture
Tasting note: Honey, caramel, and creamy strawberries
Since this sake is undiluted, it has natural freshness and richness at the same time, and the flavor of creamy strawberries is enhanced by being combined with this sake.

The Piura Blanco’s tasting note says green grapes and maple. When I tasted the chocolate by itself, I tasted some unique acidity, which I did not care for, however, when it was combined with Ouka of Dewazakura Brewery, a marvelous harmony was created by added gracious aroma and tender sweetness of Ouka. On the contrary, when combined with sweet and sour chocolate called Ambanj, whose flavor reminded me of refreshing citrus, and strawberry or raspberry jam, the acidity of the chocolate contradicted with Ouka’s clean after-taste, and I couldn’t say it was a good pairing. Two different tastes make a harmony and create the third taste. That is the best part of pairing. I feel excited as if I am going to explore an unknown world. I urge everyone to try pairing sake with familiar ingredients and food items around you! You might discover things unexpected!


①Piura Blanco, Peruと桜花 吟醸 山形県
②Kokoa Kamili, Tanzaniaと朱盃 純米 熊本県
③Mantuano, Venezuelaと手取川 山廃純米 石川県
④Maya Mountain, Belizeと賀茂泉 純米吟醸生原酒にごり 広島県
テイスティングノート: ハチミツとキャラメル、クリーミーな苺

Piura Blancoのテイスティングノートは青ブドウとメープルで、チョコだけで食べると独特な酸味があり、あまり好みの味ではありませんでしたが、出羽桜の桜花と合わせると桜花の持つ華やかな香りと優しい甘みが加わり、素晴らしい調和をみせてくれました。それとは逆にAmbanjaという爽やかなシトラスと苺やラズベリージャムを思い出させる甘酸っぱいマダガスカル産のチョコレートと合わせてみると、チョコレートの酸が桜花のスッキリとした後味と反発してしまい、あまり相性がいいペアリングとは言えませんでした。2つの味わいが調和し、第3の味わいが生まれる。これこそがマリアージュの醍醐味であり、道なる世界への探検のようでワクワクします。皆さんも身近な食材や食べ物を日本酒に合わせてペアリングしてみると、意外な発見があるかもしれないので、是非試してみて下さいね。

#Japanesesake #chocolate

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