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


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


Find your favorite sake

By Yuji Matsumoto

Sake is a beverage of preference. However, “delicious” sake all have common universal traits.
The flavors can be characterized as follows:
• Sweetness
• Acidity
• Saltiness
• Bitterness
• Umami

In terms of food preparation, the common factor that creates a “delicious” taste for consumers is the balance between these flavors. “Preference” refers to this balance being achieved first, followed by one’s preferred flavor, such as ‘sweetness,’ being slightly stronger than the other four characteristics.
The same can be said about sake. Sake flavors are evaluated based on how well-balanced these flavors (saltiness mostly does not exist in sake) are. With sake, sweetness and acidity are easily detected with the first sip. However, “umami” flavor is an underlying taste, mostly detected as an aftertaste or when passing the tongue.
Some curious brands of (low-rated) sake have unbalanced flavors, where one flavor is strongly notable while lacking another.
Those who prefer dry, but well-balanced sake might enjoy the acidity upon swallowing the sake, while enjoying the short aftertaste that lingers on the palate; while those who prefer sweet flavors may likely enjoy sake with a fruity note and a mellow flavor with a long-lasting finish.
The most important training is to determine your own axis of flavors, best accomplished by enjoying a wide range of sake, and enjoying the same brand of sake over a period of time.



#flavor #japanesefood #sake #sweetness #umami


Sake Nation “Sake Brewery and Fire: Part 2”

By Kosuke Kuji

The previous issue covered how the Yuki Sake Brewery Co., Ltd. in Ibaragi prefecture burnt down.
The greatest concern for any sake brewery pertaining to fire hazards is the fire may spread to nearby private homes and corporations.
Fortunately, this has not been an issue with fires in recent years as sake breweries expanded their premises.
The next concern is old buildings on the brewery premises could quickly burn down in case of a fire. The storage house, etc., is especially filled with yeast. Burning down all these microorganisms cultured over time is another concern.
Although money can be spent to build a new brewery, all the microorganisms that lived in the brewery up to the fire cannot be revived, a significant loss.
Further, some sake products may survive the fire. Could sake products recovered from a fire be sold? There was no place to store sake products miraculously recovered from the fire when the Yuki Sake Brewery burned down.
Thankfully, a neighboring brewery kindly volunteered to store the recovered sake products.
Further, the clean-up after a fire is also challenging. Thankfully, aspiring sake brewers and fans volunteered from nationwide to help the brewery’s clean-up efforts, which offered another insight into the beauty of how the Japanese are connected through sake.

*The Sake Brewers Association is collecting donations for Yuki Sake Brewery Co., LTD.
To donate, please reference the information below:
Bank Name: The Joyo Bank, Ltd. Yuki Branch
Savings Account #1502819
Account Name: Shinketsu-Shuzo-Kumiai



常陽銀行 結城支店
普通 1502819
真結酒造組合 (シンケツシュゾウクミアイ)

#Musubiyui #japanesefood #sake #sakebreweries #yukisake


Manyo Sake

Sake brewing technology advanced significantly in the “Manyo Period (629-759)” from the Asuka Period (592~710) into the Nara Period (710-784).
The phrase “Purified Sake” was written on a mokkan (narrow, long, thin pieces of wood strung together to write on in ancient times) that emerged from the Nara Period (710-784).
“Sake” during this period is thought to be of entirely different quality from modern-day sake. Fermentation-mash was squeezed in a bag, supernatant, and clear; thus referred to by this term.
Of course, such sake was enjoyed only among a small population of aristocrats, while the general population drank cloudy sake.

Sake for the Masses

The year after the Taika Reform (645), “alcohol prohibition” targeting farmers was officially announced.
“Alcohol prohibition” repeatedly announced since between the 8th ~ early 9th centuries indicate farmers also had numerous opportunities to consume cloudy alcohol, homemade or purchased at the market.

Most of the poor consumed “Kasu yuzake” to survive the cold, as described in poems by Okura Yamanoue in “Manyoshu” (“Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves,” Japan’s oldest anthology of tanka poems).

*“Kasu Yuizake”: A beverage consisting of sake lees dissolved in water, high in yeast content and very nutritious


大化の改新(645) の翌年、農民に対する「魚酒禁令(ぎょしゅきんしれい)」が初めて公布さた。

#Manyo #Sake #asuka #japanesefood #japanesehistory


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

By Ryuji Takahashi

Saitama prefecture is a leading producer of the highest shipment volumes of sake, a fact not widely known. This report introduces a small-scale sake producer “Fujisaki Sobei Shoten” in Nagatoro-machi, in the Chichibu region of Saitama prefecture, Japan. This long-established sake brewery started sake production in 1728.
Founder Sobei Mitsushige Fujisaki is from the Hino region in Omi (present-day Hino-cho, Gamo District in Shiga Prefecture), trading in a region home to many successful merchants at the time, benefiting from the advantages they brought to the region. The Hino region was said to be an area renowned for the production and sales of “Japanese sake.” These merchants, known as “Hino merchants,” expanded their business territory to the Kanto (eastern) region. One such merchant was first-generation Mitsushige, who founded the “Fujisaki Sobei Shoten.”
Since then, Sobei Fujisaki produced and sold sake mainly around the Nakasendo (highway connecting Edo-Kyoto during the Edo period (1603-1867)), passing on the tradition to “sincerely produce sake and hone sake production skills” to modern day sake production. Sobei Fujisaki previously had a large brewery in Yorii that produced “Hakisen,” since relocated to Nagatoro-machi, currently produces mainly sake products “Nagatoro” and “Nagatorogura” using sake rice “Sake Musashi” produced in Saitama prefecture. The good news is Fujisaki Sobei Shoten welcomes walk-in visitors.
In Nagatoro & Chichibu, much of the manual work required for everyday life is passed on to date in the form of carpentry, ceramics, glass art, dyeing, fabric, etc. Also, the Nagatoro, Chichibu area is home to many up-and-coming writers who pass on many of the important artisan skills and culture. Fujisaki Sobei Shoten collaborates with these writers to organize workshops to continue passing on these local manual skills.
Also, original products combining local food ingredients and confections are sold together. Here, the brewery does not target tourists, but introduces the local Chichibu & Nagataro culture of Saitama prefecture to the next generation. Delicious water from the Nagatoro region is used to create sake using sake rice grown locally in Saitama prefecture. The aroma is similar to green grapes, light and sweet flavor that doesn’t stay on the palate, therefore refreshing and easy to continue drinking.
Many of the brewery’s products are non-filtered and unprocessed sake, very popular among recent Japanese sake fans. Fujisaki Sobei Shoten produces sake in a region abundant in nature using sake rice grown in Saitama prefecture, where the local culture is preserved to date. I highly recommend their sake products that may require effort to locate in a few locations outside of Saitama prefecture.


 埼玉県は日本酒出荷量が全国で上位なのは、あまり知られていない。そんな埼玉県の秩父地域の長瀞町で少量ながら、美味い酒を造っている酒蔵「藤崎摠兵衛商店」を今回は紹介したいと思う。この藤崎摠兵衛商店の歴史は古く、享保13年1728年から酒造りを開始した老舗酒蔵である。創業者・藤﨑宗兵衛光重は近江国日野地方(現在の滋賀県現蒲生郡日野町)の出身であり、近江商人と言われる優れた商人が集まる地域の恩恵を受け商才を発揮してきたらしい。その中でも日野地方は「清酒」の製造販売を得意とした地域だそうだ。彼らは日野商人と呼ばれ、活躍の場所を関東へと広げ、その一派である初代宗兵衛が「藤﨑摠兵衛商店」を設立したとのこと。 以来、醸造と行商を営みながら、中山道を中心に日本酒文化を広げることに尽力し、藤﨑摠兵衛が培ってきた「技で磨き心で醸す」日本酒造りを現代に繋いでいるとのこと。以前は寄居に酒蔵があり、「白扇」という酒を醸す比較的大きな酒蔵だったが、現在は長瀞町に移転して埼玉県産の酒米「さけ武蔵」を使用した「長瀞」や「長瀞蔵」という酒を中心に醸す酒蔵となっている。しかも嬉しいことにこの藤崎摠兵衛商店は、ふらっと立ち寄ることの出来る酒蔵なのである。秩父・長瀞には、日々の暮らしの中で生まれたたくさんの手仕事が残っており、木工、陶芸、ガラス工芸、染色、織物など、技術の高い美しい製品が多い。また、秩父長瀞地方では若手作家も増えつつあるらしく、貴重な職人技術と文化がしっかりと継承されているとのこと。藤﨑摠兵衛商店ではこれらの作家とコラボレーションして、地元の手仕事を伝えていくショップも併設している。また、地元の食材やスイーツとコラボレーションしたオリジナルの商品なども販売している。これは既にただの観光蔵ではなく、埼玉秩父長瀞の良き文化の発信基地として、次世代に繋げていく役割も担った酒蔵であると言えるだろう。そんな、長瀞の美味い水を使用し埼玉の酒米で醸す酒は、白ブドウを思わせる香りと、程よい甘さ、その上、甘さが口に残らないのでスッキリと次に杯を傾けられる良い酒である。商品には無濾過生原酒も多く、最近の日本酒愛好家に非常に評判が良い。素晴らしいロケーションの中、埼玉の米と埼玉の良き文化の中で醸される藤崎摠兵衛商店の酒。まだ埼玉県外で買える所は少ないが、是非一度呑んでみて欲しい酒である。

#Nagatoro #chichibu #japanesefood #saitama #sake


Japanese sake and cuisine

By Yuji Matsumoto

I’m often asked by Americans, “I often use wine for cooking, but can I also use Japanese sake?” Japanese sake contains many umami flavors not found in wine, so it’s great that they can be used in anything.
Eliminating odors
Of course, sake is not only effective in eliminating odors from fish and seafood, but also from pork and lamb. Of course the odor dictates lamb meat, however, when adding Japanese flavor to your cooking, add Japanese sake to any food when the odor is too strong, then leave it for approximately two minutes for the odor to disappear.
Effective in softening proteins
Placing chicken breasts, red beef, and / or meat for stew in a zip lock bag filled with sake prior to marinating eliminates the dryness from the meat and adds flavor. Sake greatly enhances the flavor of meat for barbeque and yakiniku.

Adds umami flavor
From broiled dishes to soup dishes, Japanese sake is useful in a variety of dishes, as our readers know. Surprisingly, Japanese sake also enhances the flavors of Western soup, especially in seafood, along with pasta and various other dishes. Please give it a try. Actually, sake is also great when used even in instant ramen noodles!

Japanese sake is great for cooking
Sake for cooking or Junmai sake is great for food preparation. While Ginjo and Daiginjo are great for drinking, Junmai is better suited and more effective for cooking due to it’s higher concentration of umami flavors.







#daiginjo #ginjo #japanesecuisine #japanesefood #sake


Sake Nation “Sake Brewery and Fire: Part I”

By Kosuke Kuji

Many sake breweries produce sake in highly-valued cultural properties like old buildings and warehouses under constant operational risk.
Yuki Sake Brewery Co., Ltd. (Ibaraki prefecture), producer of “Musubiyui,” burned down on May 11, 2022. Fire ignited from the boiler room burned down the entire old brewery, designated as a cultural property.
Yuki Sake Brewery Co., LTD. is an increasingly popular sake brewery in Japan, operated by the bride who plays a major role in both production and sales. Many fans are won over by her beloved personality.
Sake in the refrigerator left miraculously untouched by the fire were recovered, while the rest including the brewery equipment were completely destroyed by the fire.
Sanyohai Shuzo Co., Ltd. (Hyogo prefecture), producer of “Banshu-Ikkon,” was also an old building greatly damaged on November 11, 2018.
Sawada Shuzo (Aichi prefecture), producer of “Hakurou,” also incurred fire damage in November 2020.
Sake breweries incur significant fire damage almost every year.
The predecessor of our brewery said repeatedly, “Thieves only steal sake, while a fire destroys everything.”
Ever since I was a child, I recall he patrolled the grounds of the old brewery day and night because fire hazards were taken seriously.
Electrical leak from electrical equipment is especially concerning, such as an old boiler in the case of Yuki Sake Brewery Co., LTD; or from an electrical replenishment device.
Although we use the latest equipment with thorough safety measures at our brewery, fires are still not preventable 100%. Over the next year, we’ll barely replace all the electrical equipment with new ones. The high repair costs posed a challenge when sales declined due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, such measures are necessary to prevent fire damage.

*The Sake Brewers Association is collecting donations for Yuki Sake Brewery Co., LTD.
To donate, please reference the information below:
Bank Name: The Joyo Bank, Ltd. Yuki Branch
Savings Account #1502819
Account Name: Shinketsu-Shuzo-Kumiai

酒豪大陸「酒蔵と火事  その1」

常陽銀行 結城支店
普通 1502819
真結酒造組合 (シンケツシュゾウクミアイ)
#Musubiyui #japanesefood #sake #sakebreweries #yukisake


Chapter 2: The Growth Period of Japanese Sake

Sake Production Techniques Imported from Mainland China

Blacksmiths, armorers, weavers, tailors, etc., first came from Mainland China to Japan between approx. 4th ~ 5th century.
In addition, highly skilled instructors came to Japan later in the 5th century.
In “Kojiki” (Records of Ancient Matters), a chapter on Emperor Oujin reads, “Hatano-miyatsuko and Ayano-atae know how to produce sake. Also, master sake brewer Susukori came to Japan.” Further, “Everyone had a good time getting drunk on sake brewed by Susukori.”
However, sake production using rice malt can be traced back to the early Yayoi Period (400 BC – 300 AD). Therefore, the Chinese who came to Japan around the 5th century are not believed to be the first to pass on sake production techniques using rice malt.
Our ancestors skillfully incorporated techniques from overseas into sake production techniques long established in Japan to improve and enhance the sake production processes unique to Japan.

第2章 日本酒の成長期

「古事記」の応神天皇の章に『秦造(ハタノミヤツコ)ノ祖、漢直(アヤノアタエ)ノ祖 酒ヲ醸(カ)ムコトヲ知レル人。名ヲ須須許理等(ススコリドモ)ガ渡リ来ツ・・』とあり、また『須須許理(ススコリ)ガ、醸(カ)ミシ御酒(ミキ)ニ 我酔イニケリ 事無酒(コトナグシ) 笑酒(エグシ)ニ我酔イニケリ。』という歌もある。
#china #history #japanesefood #sake


Tokyo Jizake Strolling (To Niigata Prefecture after the Coronavirus Restrictions Lifted)

By Ryuji Takahashi

This report is a continuation of the previous report on my trip to Niigata prefecture. Ten minutes driving distance from Nagaoka Station, the main destination of this trip, I headed to a long-established yakiniku (Japanese-style Korean BBQ) restaurant, “Sutamina-En.” This yakiniku restaurant serves delicious, fastidiously selected Murakami Beef (Murakami-gyu), along with A5 and A4 grade domestic Japanese Black Beef, each at a reasonable price.
Even the prime Japanese Black is priced at only 1,500 JPY per person. Arriving just before the restaurant opened, I was the first to enter. Local customers quickly filled the restaurant to capacity. Galbi (grilled short ribs) and sirloin were both voluminous and delicious.
Since the side menu also came highly recommended, I ordered the gyoza, more delicious than local Chinese restaurants. Excited, I ordered meat and various side menu selections. As I started to get full, the chef originally from Nagaoka city said their ramen was a must-try, so I ordered the Char Siu Pork Ramen. The smooth beef bone broth was soy sauce flavored and easy to finish, even with a relatively full stomach from all the meat I consumed.
This Char Siu Pork Ramen ranks in as the top or second most delicious ramen out of all the ramen I tried in my past travels to Niigata prefecture. I relished the joy of discovering such delicious restaurants still operating in rural regions, where I can freely travel in search of various delicious cuisines after the coronavirus pandemic ends. After the meal, I returned to the hotel and took a bath, then commenced the after-party.
I opened the sake I bought during the daytime: “Tsurunotomo-Jyohaku,” “Takachiyo Jyunmai,” and “Koshino-Happou Arabashiri,” and enjoyed them with local specialty snacks. I headed to Bandai City the next day, a shipping district in Niigata City, where I enjoyed sushi at a popular revolving sushi restaurant named "Sado Benkei" lined with customers before returning to Tokyo.
This overnight trip was a quick food excursion with no visit to local sake breweries. I felt the future potential of Niigata prefecture, where I indulged in and drew energy from local Niigata specialties. I received good news while writing this article. The Nagaoka Fireworks, the largest fireworks show in Japan, will resume for the first time in three years.
As I wrote before, the Nagaoka Fireworks was started to revive the city after World War II. I’m happy to see this fireworks show resume to revive various industries and the city government impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
I hope and pray this fireworks show will bring some comfort to many residents impacted by the pandemic.
This year’s show is not open to everyone, as various locations are stipulated to view the fireworks where people can win seats by lottery. The Nagaoka city homepage has footage from past firework shows uploaded to view. I recommend visiting the city to enjoy the lively summer ambiance of Nagaoka city.


#Japanesefood #Niigata #jizake #nagaoka #sake


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