Emperor Kammu, the 50th Emperor of Japan, moved the seat of government in 794 to Heian (Kyoto); this successfully secured its strength and lessened the leverage the Buddhist monasteries held over the government. But, while this limited one of the players in the power struggle to control Japan it did nothing to weaken the Fujiwara’s power. As a result the Fujiwara clan, which came to power during the Nara period when Emperor Tenji gave the clan their surname, now became the primary force of power during most of the Heian period through the office of Regent. Continue reading “Japanese History – Part 3, 794AD to 1185”
In 710AD Heijo (now Nara) became the first permanent capital city of Japan as prescribed by Empress Gemmei. It was built in the image of the Tang Dynasty’s capital. Up until this point the capital moved with almost each new leader.
Now, 1300 years later, Nara is holding a yearlong celebration with the Heijo Palace being the center of focus of the celebration. While the palace site had been completely lost to rice fields, research, since the 1950s, has been illuminating the original palace site. Continue reading “Japanese History – Part 2, 710AD to 794”
Japanese History from pre-history to 710AD is covered.
Very often when I am looking for information on sake and sake brewing I run into references and comments about the period in which the particular aspect was developed or used. Having little knowledge of Japanese history the references are little help without much more digging into them. For this reason, I have decided to gather what seems to me to be some of the important background and narrative of Japan’s long history and, of course, where the history of sake lies.
For this, I will use the recognized periods of Japan’s history as a scaffolding for meaningful and or interesting aspects of the history of sake and how sake was an intrigle part of Japan’s own history.
Up to 300BC – Jomon Period
During the Jomon period, Japanese islanders where gatherers, hunters and fishers. Two types of alcoholic beverages stretch back to this period, kuchikami no sake (“mouth-chewed sake”) and wine; neither of which are related directly with present day sake. Kuchikami no sake was made primarily with nuts and grains. The nuts and grains would be chewed and spit into a container where it could be left to ferment. The mechanism at work here is that the saliva contains enzymes (amylase) that break down starch to produce sugar. Once the sugar is present yeast from the environment infects the “brew” to produce an alcoholic beverage. Continue reading “Japanese History – Part 1, pre-history to 710AD”
This article discusses how homebrewers might use the TwinBird Mill to polish / mill their own rice for homebrew sake.
Rice milling is arguably the first step in sake brewing. For some, it may be the rice harvest or even the entire process of growing the rice. Then for others, most home brewers, milling is not much more than the story we hear about how the pros do it. However, under the current situation this is hardly acceptable. As home brewers, we have, to my knowledge, only two options for milling levels; standard white rice (approximately 91-93%) and a rice milled for Ginjo grade sake (60%). For those who would like the chance of brewing other classes of sake other options are needed.
Recently, I got a rice mill from Japan; the TwinBird Mill. It’s not meant for sake but for home use with table rice. I was not sure that it would be able to mill the rice down as much as I wanted. That is that it would be able to mill rice to level far past those used for table rice. I wanted to be able to have rice ever where from table rice levels (about 90%) to daigingo levels (less than or equal to 50%). Maybe even lower levels. Could the TwinBird do the trick? The short answer is yes, but… Continue reading “Milling your own rice with the TwinBird Mill”