Sake Nation: “Japan’s recovery at last from the Coronavirus pandemic” 

By Kosuke Kuji

Foreign nations led by the U.S. declared an early end to the coronavirus pandemic and returned to normal. 

In May, Japan will downgrade the coronavirus to allow regular hospitals, etc., to examine patients infected by the virus. 

Spectators and concert-goers in Japan can soon vocally cheer on athletes at sporting events and entertainers at live music performances through their facial masks, banned since the pandemic. 

From spring, facial masks deemed a symbol of the coronavirus pandemic among the Japanese can now be worn at one’s own discretion.    

Approximately a year and a half ago, Europeans vocally cheered on athletes at sporting events and entertainers at live music performances. Japan is finally about to reach this point as well. 

In the Japanese sake industry, major tasting events have started to resume. 

The Japan Ginjo Sake Association, where I serve as chairman, held a sampling event for a class of over 1,000 guests last October. 

Also, each brewery resumed celebrating their kurabiraki (warehouse opening) festival, etc., this year, inviting guests to the brewery to sample their latest new sake.  

Restaurants now greet considerably more guests since the coronavirus pandemic. Unfortunately, lack of labor is a reason why restaurants cannot always seat customers to full capacity.

Japan is a nation where peer pressure is a strong social force. I’m truly happy to see the Japanese sake industry finally resume normal operations. Let’s get in step with the rest of the world so Japan’s economy will fully recover as well. 

Let’s go, Japan!! 

We’re a step behind, let’s catch up to the rest of the world!! 













#alljapannews #japanese #japanesefood #japaneserestaurant #pandemic #sake


The Original Cloudy Sake

Recently, the term ‘Doburoku’ (unrefined sake) is hardly used anymore. Doburoku is a traditional Japanese white cloudy sake produced from rice, malted rice, water and fermented without filtration.  

The term “nigori sake” originated in China in reference to cloudy sake produced without filtering the fermentation-mash.  

Also, other terms to reference doburoku are “dobu,” “fermentation-mash sake,” “white horse,” etc. Nigori sake varies in type. The original nigori sake is “unfiltered, unprocessed sake” in reference to fermentation-mash left in the preparation tank after the alcohol fermented, or slightly filtered sake. However, nigori sake currently in distribution is sake left after the fermentation-mash is squeezed to prepare refined sake.    

First, the “first run” or “freshly pressed sake” is white, cloudy sake first squeezed from pressing the sake bag containing the fermentation-mash to separate the lees from sake. Freshly pressed sake is white and cloudy with sediments mixed at the bottom of the container, with a clear layer of sake at the top left after some time. This sake and the middle portion of cloudy sediments ladled out is the “rough run.” Most sake currently in distribution under the name “cloudy sake” is this rough run.       

In a document from the early Edo period (1603-1867), “Tonda sake” of Settu-Tonda and “Osaka sake” are listed as rough runs. Also, rough run at the time is thought to be unpasteurized sake. However, the current nigori sake is divided into the unpasteurized sake type and the live storage sake type pasteurized before shipment.      

The conventional nigori sake is the traditional unfiltered type, while the recent new type of nigori sake is very different, pink in color. More specifically, this nigori sake is prepared from red yeast, adenine-requiring mutant strain. This nigori sake is also referred to as peach-colored sake for its beautiful color. Fermentation-mash dyed pink from pigments produced in the fermentation-mash by this red yeast is roughly filtered and commercialized as nigori sake. However, this beautiful hue in the finish is said to be very difficult to generate. This cloudy sake is low in alcohol content and sweet in flavor to appeal to female consumers.   



もともと「濁り酒」 は中国から来た言葉で「濁酒」と書く。この濁酒と同じ意味の言葉は「濁醪」であり、「だくろう」(古くは「だくらう」と表記)と読む。文字通り、もろみ(醪)を漉し取らない濁った酒という意味である。また、どぶろくの他の異称としては、「どぶ」、「もろみ酒」、「白馬」などがある。ところで、ひと口に濁り酒といっても、いろいろな種類がある。本来の濁り酒は「もろみを漉し取っていない酒」なのだから、仕込みタンクの中でアルコール発酵を終えたもろみそのもの、あるいは粗漉しした程度の酒ということになるが、現在流通している濁り酒は通常、もろみを搾って清酒にする過程で取れる酒である。

まず、もろみを酒と粕とに分離する工程(上槽)で、もろみを入れた酒袋を搾った時に最初に出てくる白濁した酒が「荒走り」、あるいは「しぼりたて」である。上槽したばかりの酒はまだ滓が混在していて白く濁ってい るが、容器に入れていばらく放置しておくと、次第に容器の底に滓が沈殿し、上部の酒は清澄になる。この清酒と滓の中間の濁った部分を汲み取った酒が「中汲み」で、現在、「にごり酒」の名称で流通している酒の大半は、この中汲みとされる。


従来の濁り酒は濾過をしていないというだけの伝統的なものだが、最近、まったく新しいタイプの濁り酒が登場した。ピンク色をした濁り酒がそれで、アデニン要求性突然変異株という赤色酵母を使って仕込んだ酒である。 そのきれいな色から桃色酒とも呼ばれる。この赤色酵母がもろみの中で生産した色素によってピンク色に染まったもろみを粗漉しして、濁り酒として商品化されたが、きれいな色に仕上げるのは非常にむずかしいといわれる。女性消費者を想定した甘ロ、低アルコール度の濁り酒である。
#alljapannews #doburoku #japanese #nigori #sake


Tokyo Jizake Strolling (Tokyo Winter Sake Festival in Yoyogi 2023)

By Ryuji Takahashi  

The “Tokyo Winter Sake Festival in Yoyogi 2023” was held at the Tokyo Yoyogi Park over three days from January 27~29. 

The concept for this event was to select delicious jizake (regional sake) and regional gourmet nibbles (to enjoy with the jizake) from Hokkaido to Kyushu prefecture for attending guests. Selections were divided into four categories: Jizake, Nibbles (to accompany alcoholic beverages), Festivals, and Campfire Cuisine. An original menu of campfire cuisine by an apparently popular YouTuber I was not familiar with was prepared and served at a booth.    

The “Festival” category was reminiscent of food stalls at festivals, complete with target shooting games, raffles, sweets, etc.

The “Nibbles” section exhibited the highest number of booths, packed with guests. Describing each booth would require unlimited space, starting with the tuna filleting show, Matsuzaka beef specialty store, Sapporo ramen served with premium beef tongue, and various other booths that turned heads. The Jizake section was divided into booths serving samples to sell, national jizake samples to sell, Nihonsakari sake samples to sell, and the craft beer sales booth. The craft beer booth was bustling during the early hours.   

Apparently, the custom to “start with beer” when consuming alcohol at an izakaya restaurant is also practiced at event venues as well. The opportunity to enjoy delicious nibbles with jizake from nationwide is very exciting for guests like myself. Guests can enjoy both sake and nibbles from the same prefecture together, or enjoy jizake from Kyushu prefecture with gourmet nibbles from Hokkaido prefecture. The discovery of new delicious Japanese sake and foods entices guests to visit the production region of these products, the true thrill of this event. Compared to recent sake events with many Japanese sake breweries present, events that showcase local nibbles with regional products better entices guests to seek regional sake with regional specialty foods, drawing people to the countryside. Considering revitalization of the countryside and Japanese sake breweries, perhaps there is no point in holding sake events that don’t spotlight regional foods with sake. 

I focused on the booth exhibited by Nihonsakari Co., Ltd. Some readers may wonder why the sake brewery attended an event serving jizake with regional nibbles. Despite being a national brand, Nihonsakari Co., Ltd. actively participates in regional sake events, garnering praise for their active involvement. Of course, the quality of sake products by Nihonsakari Co., Ltd. is safe and reliable compared to jizake, considering the brewery is leading the industry’s brewing technology. At the Nihonsakari booth, I sampled heated sake resistant to degradation even if continuously heated, and purchased Jyunmai Daiginjo draft sake, Samurai rock, and canned sake as souvenirs. I vowed to enjoy more regional foods with jizake this year as I headed home.  

東京地酒散歩(地酒&地肴 in 代々木)

 1月の後半3日間に渡り、東京代々木公園にて「冬祭!地酒&地肴 in 代々木2023」



#alljapannews #japanese #japanesesake #jizake #sake #sakefestival #tokyo


When in Rome do as the Romans do…

By Yuji Matsumoto

If you ask me if I enjoy having cocktails, my answer would be no. But that’s my personal preference. Develop sake and shochu cocktails at the restaurant and sell it. These cocktails are actually more popular, so I even have a “Sake Bomb” (a mix of hot sake and beer) on the menu. Other popular cocktails on the menu are the “sake-tini” using nigori (unfiltered)sake, and shochu mojitos.

What’s important here is that I used sake and shochu as base for the cocktails. It is about showcasing the many ways you can enjoy them other than having them straight, so people can gradually learn their flavors.

The reason why sushi became so popular in America is, without any dispute, because of the new-wave creation of “California Rolls,” although it was looked down as not being authentic by many sushi chefs from Japan. But this contributed to the increase of sushi fans, bringing in customers to the traditional nigiri-only (i.e., no rolls) and chef’s-special-only venues. If the California-style sushi, such as spicy tuna rolls and shrimp tempura rolls, disappeared from the current venues, the sushi fan base would probably diminish to 1/10 or even 1/20 of its current scale. No doubt this would eradicate the currently popular sake and shochu markets.

It is my belief that those selling sake and shochu should make efforts to “localize” when recommending them.





#alljapannews #daiginjo #japanese #japanesefood #japanesesake #sake #shochu


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