Kura Blessing: Tsubaki Grand Shrine Performs Blessing

Kura Blessing: Tsubaki Grand Shrine Performs Blessing

Yesterday a friend and I made our way out to SakeOne in Forest Grove for their annual kura blessing by Koichi Barrish of the Tsubaki Grand Shrine. We got there just as the activities where about to start. Wow, a gorgeous day with a huge crowd. The last time I attended this event the weather was cold and misty and everyone easily fit inside the brew house. Not this time. I took some video but I was so far back that there is not much to see or hear in much of it. The following image is where the greatest part of the blessing was preformed. You can just see Koichi in yellow in the center under the hut.

Tsubaki Grand Shrine (Shinto) performs kura blessing at SakeOne
Tsubaki Grand Shrine (Shinto) performs kura blessing at SakeOne

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What’s in a name, Futsu, Ginjo?

This article discusses Yaegaki sake and Trader Joe’s sake and expectations.

I recently picked up two different Sakes on two different trips to the grocery store. The first was from Trader Joe’s and was the Trader Joe’s Sake Junmai Ginjo Sake (<$11). The second was from New Seasons and was Yaegaki Sake (<$6).  Now, I did not know anything about either of these sakes before trying them; though I must admit that the Junmai Ginjo on Trader Joe’s label caused me to expect more from it before I tried it. Frankly, I was disappointed. It was not bad but it was not “really good” either. It was too watery with little substance and a little chalkiness. This stuff was not nearly as good as I expected.

While still feeling the disappointment in the ginjo, I ran across YAEGAKI sake in the cooler at New Seasons with a sign under it recommending it from the staff. I thought what the hell, its cold so I can give it a try when I get home. This sake had much better mouth feel. It was full bodied and flavorful. I like this sake. (I will never make it as a sommelier, I know what I like but I am not good at describing it for others.) This is just Futsu (table sake) but I like it sooo much better than the ginjo. Now, I thought, do I like it so much just because I disliked the ginjo? Well, no, a few days later I finished it up and was still enjoying it greatly. Continue reading “What’s in a name, Futsu, Ginjo?”

Miyamizu – Heavenly Water – The Gold Standard?

This post describes the Heavenly water, Miyamizu.

Water is the main ingredient in all sake but it usually gets the least attention. Despite getting the least attention, water is important and does play a huge role in the quality of sake. The story that is told to demonstrate this fact is told so often that it has become like a legend.

The legend (no, the real story): Back near the end of the Edo period, 1840, Yamamura Tazaemon owned two breweries. One in Nishinomiya and the other in Uozaki. Tazaemon-san noticed that the sake made at Nishinomiya was always better than that made at Uosaki.

His two breweries were part of the Nada Go-go region or the five sake-brewing towns of Nada. The five districts lie in a line on the coast running west to east: Mishi, Mikage and Uozaki lie in Kobe while Nishinomiya and Imazu lie in Nishinomiya.1 The Nada Go-go region made its fame shipping sake to Edo (Tokyo) by ship, a 20 day voyage. The five districts of Nada produced a little more than 25% of Japan’s sake in 2003. But I digress.

The Nada go-go, i.e., the five sake-brewing districts of Nada
The five brewing districts of Nada, i.e., the Nada Go-go.

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  1. https://www.phontron.com/en/nada/about.php Nada map

Is Doburoku Sake?

Often when you searches around on-line, looking for a recipe for sake you find recipes for Doburoku (濁酒). No, they don’t say they are for doburoku.

Often when you searches around on-line, looking for a recipe for sake you find recipes for Doburoku (濁酒). No, they don’t say they are for doburoku. But if you brew them you don’t end up with what we in the U.S. think of as sake; I would venture to say the world. In Japan, “sake” is a much broader term. It is really for any type of alcoholic drink. However, outside of Japan, sake is the same thing to us as Nihonshu (日本酒) and Seishu (清酒). Even, in Japan, if a westerner asks for sake, it is mostly assumed he is not asking for just any alcohol.

Doburoko is kind of a farm house or home brew style of sake. It is, well, rustic and unrefined. This is the point Fred is making at the top of his recipe when he explains “refined.” If you are interested in making the beverage we think of when we say sake, the one in the store or at the restaurant, then you don’t want doburoko. It will never live up to your expectations. However, it does have its place. The fact that it is unrefined also means it is easy or easier to make than its more refined cousin. Continue reading “Is Doburoku Sake?”