Apr 21, 2014

Song of Kandouko Sake Warmer

The kandouko sake warmer is thought to have been used since the early Edo period in Japan. Apparently, people in those days brought these gadgets with them for outdoor activities such as cherry blossom viewing, and there they use them to enjoy warmed sake outdoors.

Several years ago, I found out about the kandouko sake warmer when I saw its advertisement on a Web page. It seemed that a sake-brewing-related company named Daikokuya had reproduced this old device from the Edo period and they were selling this gadget. Actually, it seemed to me a fascinating device, but too expensive to afford for me (it was priced at 126,000 yen).

The picture below shows the structure of the kandouko. The kandouko holds some amount of water in it, warms the water with heat of charcoal fire also burning inside this gadget, and warms sake with the warmed water. While you wait for your sake being warmed, you can cook some foods such as dried fish on the grill placed over the charcoal fire.

One of the problems when you enjoy warmed sake is that, when you finish the current helping, you need to leave the table for preparing another helping in the microwave etc. and your merry drinking time is interrupted by such work. I think the kandouko is a perfect solution to this problem, and moreover it even offers a bonus function for grilling some foods.

I was dying to own one of these gadgets, and so went on the Web to a net-auction site to see whether someone was selling one. There were some of these devices being sold. After one or two trials of bidding, I could finally purchase one. It cost around 6,000 yen. A good deal!

From then on, I often enjoy warmed sake with this kandouko. Also, I sometimes go net-shopping for those devices, and now I own five of them.

I treasure these gadgets so much that I made a song of kandouko. I make a movie of the kandouko using this song as BGM and uploaded it on the Youtube site. Please enjoy my movie, in which I sing the Song of Kandouko Sake Warmer, and it shows you how I enjoy warmed sake with my kandouko.

Jan 9, 2014

Celebrating New Year for the Emperor at the Imperial Palace

On January 2 of this year, I paid a visit to the Imperial Palace to celebrate New Year for the Emperor and other imperial families.

This was my first experience to enter the premises of the Imperial Palace, and I was impressed to see so many people with the same intention as mine gathering in the square in front of the palace (a total of over 80 thousand people paid a visit the Imperial Palace on this day).

Being one among those tens of thousands of visitors, I was waiting for the appearance of His Imperial Majesty and other imperial families. At around 11 o'clock, as soon as they appeared on the deck, the visitors started waving Japanese national flags and praising aloud His Imperial Majesty, wishing him health and longevity. Then, His Majesty and families responded by waving us.

At this time, I felt that all the visitors in that place were spiritually bound with each other as subjects of His Majesty, and realized that the Emperor makes our nation what it is now. Maybe, Japanese are unaware why Japan is what it is now, that Japan is what it is now because of His Majesty. Then, a thought came to me that whenever facing hardship, we can work as one to overcome it because of the fact that we have His Majesty.

Finally, let me add this: one of the greatest things about our Emperor is that the Emperor of Japan boasts the world's longest history of bloodline. Our Emperor is the 125'th generation of the bloodline that started from the first Emperor Jinmu.

Dec 14, 2013

Hot Sake in Hot Bath

I believe that the practice of enjoying warmed sake constitutes one of the most important parts of the sake culture.

I myself often enjoy warmed sake, and I usually use a kandouko (see "Finally got akandouko (sake warmer)!") to prepare warmed sake. However, if you want to sip sake in a hot bath, I can show you an easy way to prepare warmed sake. This method recently flashed on me. Prepare cup sake and use the following procedure.

1. Leave the cup sake in the bathtub in which hot water is filled.
2. Wait for a while until your warm sake becomes warm enough.
3. Bathe in the bathtub and enjoy warmed sake at the same time.

Usually, the bathtub in a Japanese house is connected with a boiler, which can be used to keep the water in the tub warm. So, you can stay bathing in warm bathtub long enough for having relaxing time over sips of warmed sake.

Dec 10, 2013

Bathing in a Yuzu Bath

Japanese people have a practice of taking a bath in a special way on the day of the winter solstice. They put some yuzu orange fruits in the bathtub and then bathe.

It is said that taking a yuzu bath helps prevent you from catching a cold. The rind of the fruit contains ingredients that are effective in blood circulation promotion and maintaining beautiful skin. Of course, the aroma of the yuzu fruit relaxes you. Then, there is no reason for me to take a yuzu bath.

Oct 24, 2013

Kandouko Cooking

Lately, we have quite cool autumn days here in Japan, and I have more chances to enjoy warmed sake than I did in summer time of course.

I chiefly use a kandouko for warming my sake. This is a copper-made gadget for warming sake. The kandouko holds some amount of water within it, and it has built-in brazier in which burning charcoal is placed. The heat from the charcoal warms the water and the warmed water in turn warms sake in a flask, tokkuri, chirori or whatever container placed in the water. While warming sake, you can also cook some foods such as dried fish on the grill placed over the charcoal fire.

So, with the kandouko, you can cook some food while drinking warm sake, and this is my favorite point about the kandouko.

Today, I'd like to introduce two easy canned food recipes using the kandouko.

Enoki-Saba-Misoni (Enokitake mushrooms and Saba mackerel boiled with miso-paste soup)

One can of Saba-Misoni, 100 g of Enokitake, shredded cheese.

How to cook:
1. Make a small "pan" from aluminum foil, and place it on the brazier.
2. Place Saba-Misoni and Enokitake on the "pan." Adjust the amount of these ingredients so that they can be contained in the "pan."
3. Wait until the ingredients are boiled, then put some shredded cheese on them.
4. When the cheese is melted, the food is ready.

The food was a little bit salty from the miso-based soup, so you may want to add some vegetable, such as shredded cabbage, green pepper, etc.

I uploaded a video work demonstrating how to cook this. Then, I got a message from some one, recommending the following recipe:

Saba Flavored with Mayonnaise (boiled Saba mackerel flavored with mayonnaise)

This menu is also easy to prepare. Because I want to prepare food while preparing warm sake, my kandouko cooking menu must be cooked only on the small brazier of the kandouko and must be easy to prepare.

One can of Saba Mizuni (plainly boiled Saba mackerel), mayonnaise, ground pepper, soy sauce, and green onion (green part)

How to cook:
1. Open the can of Saba Mizuni, and place the can on the brazier.
2. When the contents of the can are boiled, add mayonnaise, ground pepper, and soy sauce.
3. Then, add chopped green onion.
4. Crumble the blocks of Saba mackerel and mix the ingredients together.

I am not sure about the amount of each ingredient but if you use too much of each ingredient, they may overflow from the can. Maybe, you may want to use a small pan instead of just directly put the can on the brazier.

Sep 14, 2013

Hiyaoroshi Season

It is September now, and it is a special season for sake lovers, the season of hiyaoroshi.

Hiyaoroshi is a type of the sake that is pasteurized after being pressed in winter or early spring, then aged in a cool storage house until summer is over, and then bottled without undergoing the process of second-time pasteurization (many sake products are pasteurized twice).

Many of the breweries in Tokyo are now shipping their hiyaoroshi products. So, I called the liquor shop I patronize to bring me two bottle of hiyaoroshi. They are Kasen Tokubetsu Honjozo Hiyaoroshi and Sawanoi Hiyaoroshi.

We still have some hot summery days between series of autumnal fresh days, but regardless of its being hot or cool, I'm enjoying autumn flavor.

The owner of the liquor shop, when bringing me these bottles, told me that the Sawanoi Hiyaoroshi of this year was especially good and recommended me to have it lukewarm. Probably, my sake warmer kandouko will be busy from this September until next spring.

Movie -- "The Song of Kandouko"

Jun 30, 2013

Making loquat liqueur

In the side yard of my house, there is a loquat tree. No one planted this tree. It seems to have come out from a seed, and have grown up. Now, it produces a lot of loquat fruits in June every year. My family enjoy eating these fruits. However, the tree is too bountiful for us to consume all the fruits and we usually left quit a lot on the branches and let birds to peck them.

This year, I picked these fruits and made loquat liqueur.

The following is how I made the loquat liqueur:

 Loquats                        500 g
 Lemons                           2
 Crystal sugar                 50 g
 Distilled spirit (shochu)  900 ml

1. Put the loquats, lemons, and sugar in a disinfected preserve jar, and then add the distilled spirit.
2. Store it avoiding direct sunlight and high temperature.

After three months of aging, the loquat liqueur will be ready to be drunk.