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This issue traces the history of koji (rice malt).

The power of koji mold essential to producing sake

Koji (rice malt) consists of two types – “bara-koji,” prepared by growing mold onto grains such as rice (a kind of malt made of heated grains, such as rice); and “mochi-koji,” prepared by growing mold onto flour kneaded with water (a kind of malt fermented onto rice cake).
Bara-koji is more commonly used in Japan, while mochi-koji is more commonly used in China, Thailand, and the Philippines.
This difference is said to be largely due to food culture. Bara-koji was established in Japan, where rice is consumed as the main staple; while mochi-koji was established in some regions of China, where rice and grains are ground into powder as the main staple. Mochi-koji plays an important role to promote alcohol fermentation for production of Asian alcoholic beverages in high-temperature, high-humidity regions of Southeast Asia.

Sake Production using Koji (Rice Malt)
Sake production using the power of koji mold is said to have started during the Nara period (710-784 AD).
Once sake production using koji (rice malt) was established, sake shops and private vendors selling koji to sake shops increased in numbers during the Kamakura Period (1185-1333), when the “Koji-za” (Koji Malt Producers Guild) was founded.
The Koji-za was authorized by the shogunate government to be the sole producer of koji.
In some sake shops however, koji production was undertaken as the job of sake producers, with some preparing their own koji.
During the Muromachi Period (1392-1573), a conflict gradually developed between sake shops and Koji-za over the right to produce koji.
Afterwards, the shogunate government disbanded the Koji-za and sake shops took on koji preparation.




#koji #mold #sake

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Tokyo Jizake Strolling (State of Emergency Declaration)

By Ryuji Takahashi

A state of emergency was declared in Tokyo from July 12 to August 22, the fourth declared in Tokyo stopped the provision of alcohol and drove restaurants and liquor stores into yet another difficult situation. Izakaya restaurants of major restaurant chains closed one after another, significantly impacting the sales of commercial sake products sold by liquor stores.
Various speculations and postings online criticized the city of Tokyo and the Japanese government for hosting the Olympic Games, while other posts opposed such criticisms, an indication of mounting frustration and fatigue felt by the Japanese public. Eventually, a poster criticizing The Liberal Democratic Party of Japan and KOMEITO (New Clean Government Party) were created and distributed among restaurants. Small restaurants are compensated with cooperation money for distributing the posters, in some cases making more money with their restaurants closed than open. This difference in earnings also caused frustration, prompting the Japanese government and the city of Tokyo to change how cooperation money is divided. The liquor store I operate also saw a decrease in business transactions with restaurants. Business is slow at the moment due to the request from local government to reduce business hours.
However, I see life like a card game - we each strategize our win using the hand we’re dealt. When opening a restaurant for example, no one is guaranteed an ideal location, size, or rent. In fact, most of these factors will not go your way. However, we rack our brain and think hard despite our less-than-optimal conditions to create a renowned restaurant. Not only does changing cards not guarantee a better hand, it could even worsen your hand. However, we must try our luck anyway. Criticizing the dealer for dealing a bad hand doesn’t help. Similarly, no one knows the correct strategy to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
Needless to say, no entrepreneur wants to end up having to close the door of his/her own restaurant or company. However, policies improved to prevent this outcome should not put off your consumers either. Every entrepreneur is trying hard to fight this unprecedented fight against the coronavirus. Atami city, Shizuoka prefecture suffered a notable decline in tourists due to a landslide on top of the coronavirus pandemic. Since there is no one to blame in this case, people have no where to direct their frustrations to, the most frustrating situation. Is politics to blame, the people who won’t comply with various requests from the local government, or the Tokyo Olympics?
What we can do for now is to set the groundwork and research various information to revitalize your business when the coronavirus pandemic ends. As I write this, now is the time and climate to “learn to be a hawk.*1”

*1 “Learning to be a hawk”: From May to June, hatched hawk chicks learn how to fly and hunt during this season and prepare to leave the nest to become independent (in other words, the timing for each entrepreneur to start preparing to “become independent”).


#Ginzan #Ichinomiya #Iwami #brewery #covid19 #jizake #nigori #sake #tokyo

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Enjoying Sake and Tastes of Fall

By Yuji Matsumoto

In these modern days, we’re feeling less seasonality – but Japanese food has always focused on enjoying the four seasons. Indeed, vegetables, fruit and fish are at their best in fall to satisfy the so-called “autumn appetite.” Let’s go back to what Japanese food is about; here are some tips on some “tsumami” (small dishes to be enjoyed with alcoholic beverages) perfect for this season.

Mushrooms are a must for fall. When cooking fall mushrooms, avoid rinsing with water and heating for a long time, and cook quickly to keep their fragrance and texture. They are great grilled or sautéed alone, but shiitake, which contain guanylic acid, considered one of the three great umami generators, greatly increases its umami when cooked with glutamic acid of konbu, so cook them together as suimono (clear broth) or dobin-mushi (steam-boiled vegetables/meat in earthenware pot). In this case, pair the dish with a fragrant Junmai Ginjo.

Tuna, bonito, salmon, barracuda, the various mackerels, saury, yellowtail, and snapper are some of the notable fish that are excellent at this time of the year. If making nigiri, lightly broil to bring out the sweetness in the fish immediately before making them into sushi that is heavenly when paired with sake. And don’t forget the condiments. Use ginger, scallions, garlic, yuzu, Japanese pepper, and grated daikon radish to accentuate the main ingredients’ flavors.
For sake pairings, Junmai Daiginjo and Ginjo go well with white-fleshed fish, and Kimoto and Yamahai for fattier fish. For nitsuke (fish boiled with soy sauce mixture), sweeter Junmai go well.





#beer #japanese #price #sake #wine

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Sake Nation “The Coronavirus Pandemic Popularized Online Sake Tasting Parties”

By Kosuke Kuji

Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic since last year, the long-established weekly “Sake Tasting Event” for sake producers to interact with consumers was cancelled.
At this event, brewery owners and Master Sake Brewers introduce their sake brands to consumers, sample them together with consumers, ask for comments, receive feedback and words of encouragement from consumers, and utilize the feedback for their next sake production.
This very important event offering personal interaction between sake producers and consumers was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
On the other hand, this past year witnessed an increasing number of online sake parties.
I was invited several times as a guest to give lectures about sake.
Also, online drinking parties connecting with people overseas with help from an interpreter, or presenting a lecture despite my limited English language skills is also fun, becoming more established as the new norm.
While there are various ways to enjoy online sake tasting parties, the most popular way is to have breweries send their sake products to participants, give an online toast with the same sake, and to taste the sake together.
In the beginning, unfamiliarity with online gatherings caused participants to talk over each other, disappear from the screen due to poor internet connectivity, or drink too much and fall asleep snoring on-screen, etc.
To be honest, gathering in person is better.
But, we can’t yet.
Sake production is almost complete.
I’m looking forward to introducing and explaining our sake products to all of you.
As we get used to online drinking parties, they can be very fun in their own way.
In the post-pandemic world, perhaps we can utilize these online drinking parties effectively while attending many in-person tasting parties as well.



#coronavirus #earthquake #emergency #sake #vaccination #vaccine

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The Origin of Japanese Sake

-Let’s take this opportunity to reflect on the history of Japanese sake-

The first sake produced in Japan was fruit liquor
Traces of sake production are seen since the mid-Jomon period (14,000 – 300 B.C.). Unlike Japanese sake however, the ingredients were not rice, but fruits such as wild grapes, etc. In other words, the first sake produced was fruit liquor instead of grain sake.
On the other hand, grain sake production is thought to be introduced from Mainland China approximately 2,600 years ago. A document from the Nara period (710 – 784 A.D.) reads, “kuchimi-zake” (sake produced from chewed rice or grain before fermentation) was produced.
Kuchimi-zake utilizes enzymes in saliva that breaks down starches by chewing on plants like grains and potatoes that contain starches, spit out into a bottle to create sake.
Enzymes in saliva break down starches in plants into sugar. Wild yeast ferments alcohol into sake, not fermented naturally like fruit liquor, but artificially fermented since this time.
Also, this sake production method was used not only in Japan, but also among indigenous populations in the Amazon and Andes plateau.

Sake was consumed to mark occasions that celebrated milestones in human life
The “Gishiwajinden” written around the 3rd century documented sake consumption in Japan from the Jomon period (14,000 – 300 B.C.) to the Nara period (710 – 784 A.D.).
“When someone died, the chief mourner mourned for approximately ten days while others participated in mourning by dancing and drinking sake,” indicating people at the time drank sake during occasions that marked milestones in human life.




#dry #enzyme #fermentation #flavor #japan #junmai #kimoto #rich #sake

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