Sake is brewed from yellow koji. 

The most important part of brewing sake is the brewing methods used – first koji, second yeast, and three-step method. 
1:Process the ingredients: Polish, wash, and soak the rice. 
2:Prepare koji: Prepare the koji. 
3:Yeast starter: Prepare by cultivating quality yeast using steamed rice, koji, and water to brew sake. 
4:Prepare fermentation-mash: Apply the three-step fermentation method to divide the water, steam the rice, and prepare malted rice in three steps. 
5:Fermentation (aged fermentation mash)
6:Press the mash: Press the aged fermentation mash to leave the sake lees. 
7:Precipitate the sediments (in fresh new sake): Precipitate the sediments to the bottom and extract the clear sake. 
8:Filter and pasteurize the sake (heat the sake to sterilize and prevent deterioration in quality)
9:Store, mix, and dilute the sake with water (add the mother water and mix with sake)
10:Bottle the sake
Sake brewing is a biotechnology that utilizes the functions of microorganisms, maximized by the skills and experiences of brewery workers. 
造りかたは、 最重要点、一麹、二元(酒母)、三造り
1:原料処理 玄米を精米し、寝かし、洗米、浸漬
2:製麹  麹(こうじ)をつくること。
3:酒母 (しゅぼ)日本酒の醸造のために、蒸した米・麹・水を用いて優良な酵母を培養したもの
4:醪(もろみ)造り、 水・蒸米・麹米を、三段に分けて仕込む(3段仕込み)
6:上槽(じょうそう) 熟成したもろみを搾る。酒粕が残る

#alljapannews #japanese #japanesesake #koji #sake #sakebrewing


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


Rice suitable for sake-brewing determines the fundamental flavor of sake 

Non-glutinous Japonica rice is used to brew sake, also consumed as a staple. Many rice varieties are grown in Japan, all suitable to brew sake. Rice most suitable to brew sake is referred to as “rice suitable for sake-brewing.” 
The variety of rice suitable for sake-brewing must satisfy three conditions: Large grain size, white core, and low protein content.  
The most representative brands of “rice suitable for sake-brewing” are “Yamadanishiki,” “Gohyakumangoku,” “Miyamanishiki,” “Omachi,” etc. However, the production volume is nowhere close to the volume in demand to brew sake. Rice suitable for sake-brewing is difficult to grow compared to common rice. For example, “Omachi” rice is large in grain size and an excellent variety of rice large in grain size. However, long rice stalks fall over while harvesting, making it difficult to harvest by machine. Therefore, the crop acreage does not increase, with some varieties like Omachi rice decreasing in production volume year by year, which raises the cost. Thus, a significant volume of common rice is also used as sake rice.   
The grain size of brown rice varies by variety. The grain weight of 1,000 grains of brown rice uniform in grain size is referred to as “1,000 grain weight.” Rice with grain weight of 25 g or greater is notably referred to as “large grain size” compared to common brown rice with grain weight between 20~22 g. While rice, large in grain size, with a white core in the center and a moist appearance is referred to as “large white core rice.” The white core consists of coarse grains of starch. If this core is large, koji mold propagates easily, which grows koji easily in the white core, an important aspect of koji preparation.  
Also, water penetrates easily into the core of large white rice grains. Steaming rice hardens the outer grain and softens the inside, which makes the preparation of yeast starter and fermenting-mash easier.     
Also, rice contains protein and fat. These components are required to brew sake (for example, umami flavor unique to sake is derived from amino acids created by koji mold breaking down protein). However, an excess amount of these components will compromise the flavor and aroma. Many of these components are contained in the surface layer of rice grains that get polished to brew sake.    

 代表的な品種は、「山田錦」、「五百万石」、「美山錦」、「雄町」などだが、その生産量はすべての酒造需要をまかなうにはとても及ばない。酒造好適米は、一般の飯米に比べて栽培がむずかしいということもある。たとえば、大粒米のなかでも「雄町」は米粒が大きく優秀な品種だが、茎が長いため結実期に倒伏し、機械での刈り取りがしにくいという欠点がある。したが って、作付け面積はなかなか増えず、雄町のように年々減少している品種もあり、価格も高い。そのため、一般の飯米もかなりの量が酒米として使われているのが現状といわれる。 
玄米の粒の大きさは品種によって違う。粒の揃った玄米1000粒の重量を千粒重というが、 一般の飯米の玄米が20~22gであるのに対して、25g以上のものを特に「大粒米」または「大粒種」と呼ぶ。そして、 大粒種のなかでも、粒の中心部(心白)が白くうるんで見えるものを「大粒心白米」という。心白はでんぶん粒が粗い部分で、これが大きいと麹カビが繁殖しやすく、麹造りの重要なポイントの1つである破精込みが容易になる。酒造好適米の検査基準では、心白の発現率は80%以上である。
また、米にはたんぱく質や脂質、灰分が含まれている。これらの成分は酒造りに必要(たとえば、日本酒独特の旨みは、麹カビがたんぱく質を分解してつくるアミノ酸に由来する)だが、多すぎるとかえって、味や香りを損なってしまう。これらの成分の多くは米の表層部に含まれているため、 酒造りでは必ず米を精白するわけだが、米の内部にも少ないほうが酒の質への影響がより小さくなるわけである。 
#alljapannews #japanese #japanesefood #japanesesake #junmai #sake #sakebrewing


Sake Nation  “Noto Peninsula Earthquake and Sake Breweries ②”

By Kosuke Kuji

The damage became apparent as the morning dawned on January 2. A tsunami hit Suzu city, Noto Peninsula. The morning market in Wajima, a renowned tourist spot, burned up in flames.
The footage showed fire damage, eerily reminiscent of fires in the coastal region of Miyagi prefecture, hit by the Great East Japan Earthquake and the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake. 
Noto Peninsula is home to eleven sake breweries, all “partially or completely destroyed.”    
The sake brewery of a junior classmate from college was “partially destroyed.” Nearly eighty percent of the facility was destroyed, far worse than “partially destroyed.” However, the “completely destroyed” sake breweries had hardly anything left. 
Water was cut off with no electricity or gas. 
The frigid winter in the Hokuriku region in January hit the evacuees hard.     
Further, many people had returned home to celebrate the New Year on January 1, which means the capacity of the evacuation center could be exceeded. 
Sake distilleries store both mash and koji mold on site during the best time of the year to prepare for sake-brewing. All the damage to the mash and koji mold could not be prevented in this situation.  


#alljapannews #earthquake #japanese #japanesesake #sake #sakebreweries


The ingredients used to brew sake are ‘rice’ and ‘water.’

The ingredients used to brew sake are ‘rice’ and ‘water.’
The production region of sake rice is said to be Southeast Asia. 
Japan grows mainly Japonica Rice. 
Sake is brewed from non-glutinous rice. Large grains of sake rice are polished to brew sake. 
Therefore, producers take great care since rice ears fall easily. 

Over 100 rice brands suitable to brew sake circulate in the market. 
However, the following three rice brands constitute seventy percent of raw sake rice used to brew Japanese sake:
Yamadanishiki: 33%
Gohyakumangoku: 25% 
Miyamanishiki: 15%

Most sake breweries are located near rivers to use groundwater and spring water, while other breweries have groundwater or a well on the premises. Water quality in Japan is mostly soft water, used to brew sake.
山田錦 33%
五百万石 25%
美山錦 15%
#Gohyakumangoku #Miyamanishiki #Yamadanishiki #alljapannews #japanese #japanesefood #sake


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


When did sake contests start? 

The most traditional and prestigious sake contest held today is “The Annual Japan Sake Awards,” organized by the National Tax Agency. The first sake contest was held in the spring of 1911, held annually (currently in May) excluding 1945, when the contest was canceled due to wartime damage. The venue of the sake contest is The National Research Organization located on Takinogawa street in Kita ward, Tokyo.   
The Gold and Silver prize is selected from new sake brewed that brewery year, delivered from sake manufacturers nationwide for assessment. The total number of exhibition sake entries exceeded 1,000 at one point. However, entries are now limited to only one per sake manufacturer. Exhibition sake entries are narrowed down to approximately 700~800 and assessed, from which approximately 100 sake selections are awarded the Gold prize. After the assessment, the awarded sake selections are announced. Sake brewers, wholesalers, sellers, and beverage shop owners visit to taste the recognized sake selections, an event celebrated with great success each year. Approximately twenty members of the judging panel consist of technical officials and official appraisers of the National Tax Agency.   
Furthermore, the test facility was renamed as The National Research Institute of Brewing in 1995 and relocated to a new facility in Higashi-Hiroshima city. The first sake contest in Japan was titled “The First Japan Sake Awards,” held at the same National Research Organization, Ministry of Finance, in October 1911. The sake contest was organized by the Brewing Society (predecessor entity of the Brewing Society of Japan), formed by sake manufacturers nationwide and associated government officials of the Ministry of Finance. This sake competition is the “Fall Sake Competition,” held in the fall when sake ages, while “The Annual Japan Sake Awards” organized by the government is referred to as the “Spring contest.” Approximately 8,000 sake manufacturers were active in Japan at the time, with 2,137 entries submitted for the first contest.    
This sake contest evolved with each passing year, since organized every other year. For the fifteenth contest held in 1937, 4,991 sake entries were received. The award ceremony was held at the Tokyo Takarazuka Theater. In 1939 however, the control of sake production started, and the contest was canceled. After World War II ended, in 1949, the Brewing Society of Japan renamed and revived the sake contest as “Japan Sake Contest.” However, the contest was held only three more times until it ended in 1951. In 1961, Tokyo University of Agriculture organized the “Japan Sake Food Contest” and held the contest fifteen times until 1976.   

So many sake entries were submitted to this contest because the recognition received at this contest was honorable and effective for advertising. Not only has this sake contest contributed to improve sake quality, but the reputation of quality sake brewed in Nada and Fushimi districts – both historically renowned sake brewing districts since the Edo period (1603-1868) - brought recognition to an unknown regional sake brand, a major by-product of this sake contest.  
なお、同試験所は平成7年に 醸造研究所と名称が変更され、東広島市の新施設に移転している。 ところで、わが国で最初の品評会は、これより前の明治40年10月、同じ大蔵省醸造試験所で「第1回全国清酒品評会」が開かれている。主催は 全国の酒造業者と大蔵省の関係官僚によって結成された醸造協会((財)日本醸造協会の前身)。この品評会は酒が熟成する秋に行なわれる「秋の品評会」であり、これに対して、国の主催した「新酒鑑評会」は「春の品評会」と呼ばれたという。当時、全国には約8000の酒造業者があったが、第1 回には2137点の応募があった。
この品評会はその後も1年おきに行なわれたが年を追うごとに発展し、昭和12年の第15回には4991点が 出品され、授章式は東京宝塚劇場で行なわれたほどだった。しかし、昭和14 年には日本酒の生産統制が始まり中止。戦後の昭和24年、日本醸造協会は 「全国酒類鑑評会」と名を改めて品評会を復活させたが、昭和26年まで3回 行なわれただけで終わった。昭和36年からは東京農業大学が「全国酒類調味食品品評会」を開催し、昭和51年の第15回まで続いている。 
これらの品評会に多数の出品があったのは、ここで受賞することが栄誉であるばかりでなく、抜群の宣伝効果もあったためとされるが、一方で、酒質の向上に貢献したと同時に、それまで江戸時代以来の本場、灘・伏見 の名声に圧されてまったく無名だった地方の酒が認められるという大きな副産物があった。
#alljapannews #japanese #japanesefood #japanesesake #sake


Sake Nation “Noto Peninsula Earthquake and Sake Breweries ①”

By Kosuke Kuji
As the glorious New Year of the Dragon dawned on January 1, 2024, the voice of a TV anchor sadly urged viewers to “Please evacuate,” “head to higher ground quickly,” on the evening of New Year’s Day. 
The news reported the 2024 Noto Peninsula Earthquake. 
Right after the earthquake occurred, a “Major tsunami warning” was issued around Ishikawa prefecture for the first time since the Great East Japan Earthquake, a tsunami warning was issued along the coastline of the Sea of Japan, and a tsunami advisory was widely issued.  
The sun had set, and it was dark outside. 
The New Year variety entertainment show switched to a special news report led by NHK, as various TV programs switched to news when major disasters strike to provide regular updates.
The new year started off as a tragic journey.    
The status of the tsunami was not known for a while after the major tsunami warning was issued. Aware of the damage incurred by tsunamis after the Great East Japan Earthquake, I prayed for the safety of survivors. My heart anguished over not knowing the latest status of victims on site following the disaster. 
Noto peninsula is also known as one of the three major regions of master sake brewers (toji), named “Noto Toji.” Home to nearly ten sake breweries, Noto peninsula is also home to my younger colleague’s brewery. From this issue on, I will share stories about the Noto Peninsula Earthquake and local sake breweries in the next several reports.       
#NHK #Noto #NotoPeninsula #NotoToji #earthquake #japan #japannews #newyear #sake #tsunami


Part 2: Reading the sake label 

Sake bottles normally display two labels. 
The large front label often displays the “sake brand” in the center of the bottle, while the right or left side shows the special sake designation (such as Junmai Daiginjo, etc.). 
The production year, month, and date indicated is the sake bottling date. The label also lists the alcohol content, volume of the bottle, and the names of the brewery and master sake brewer.  
The back label lists important information such as the sake meter value - a positive or negative value that indicates the sake is sweet or dry. Generally, the greater the negative value, the sweeter the flavor; and the greater the positive value, the dryer the flavor. This positive or negative sake meter value is determined by the sugar content in sake. The higher the sugar content, the greater the negative number; and the lower the sugar content, the greater the positive sake meter value. Sake with a positive sake meter value that is lighter in relative density than water is lower in sugar content, etc., while sake with a negative sake meter value that is heavy in relative density is higher in sugar content, etc. 
Generally, sake with scary names such as oni, kujira, otoko, etc., tend to be dry in flavor. 
Approximately sixty-five percent of all sake produced is standard sake. As sales of Ginjo and Junmai Ginji increase however, the overall sales of sake is also increasing.  
裏ラベルには重要なことが書かれてある。日本酒度は甘辛のことで、一般的にマイナスになればなるほど甘口、プラスになればなるほど辛口とされている。 このプラスとマイナスは、お酒の中にどれくらい糖分が入っているかどうかで決まり、 お酒の中に糖分が多ければマイナスになり、少なければプラスになる。比重が水より軽いプラスの値のお酒は甘味のもとである糖分などが少なく、比重が重いマイナスの値のお酒は糖分などがより多く含まれているため。
#alljapannews #japanese #japanesefood #japanesesake #sake


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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