Oct 31, 2009

Sawanoi Kurabiraki

At 9:30 a.m. on October 24, 2009, I was in the event of kurabiraki at Ozawa Syuzou (the brewery is open to the public in this event). In front of the brewery building in which they were offering sampling opportunities of sake was a long line of people waiting for their turns to taste sake.

Expecting that the sampling place would be less crowded later, I moved to Sawanoi-en (Ozawa Syuzou runs restaurants, rest house, corner for pay sampling service on their premises) for the moment. Sawanoi-en was not very crowded then.

"Ichibay san!" -- Someone called me. I turned around and found it was K san. We have known each other through the Internet, but it was the first time for us to see each other.

"I recognized you immediately, Ichibay san!"

Probably, I was easy to recognize; I wore kimono and I am tall. On this day, I happened to meet six or so acquaintances excluding those working for this brewery, and all of them noticed me earlier than I noticed them (later, I was even told by someone that he had noticed me at the kurabiraki). So, if you want to attract people's attention, wear kimono.

I bought namazake and drunk it at a table in the rest house. In the meantime, this place was also getting crowded. Even Mr. Ozawa, president of the brewery, was also busy selling Sawanoi's special okara shao-mai.

Well, back to the kura building for sake sampling, a placard indicating "A 2-hour wait for sampling" was being presented. "Oh, this line is as long as one I saw in Tokyo Disneyland!" Earlier, I thought the place would get less crowded in the course of time, but things in reality got worse!

It seemed that I had no choice but to join the line and wait for my turn. However, I was not bored while waiting in the line; a band of Japanese traditional musical instrument players were entertaining visitors; lion dance was being performed; a funny dancer wearing a droll mask walked down from the stage and made everyone laugh; a child, being half-frightened, was laughing at the droll mask and running around trying to escape from him. This idea for preventing visitors in the waiting line from getting bored also reminded me of Tokyo Disneyland.

Scenes inside the kura building

Many types of sake were provided for sampling, and they were classified into many groups including the regular sake group, junmai/honjozo sake group, distinctive sake group, etc. according to the sake characteristics. I could taste all of these types of sake.

"Iroha (Fountain of Tokyo)" is produced using this wooden tank, which is relatively small as a fermentation tank. Ozawa Syuzou is brewing Iroha with this small tank and the sake is being shipped to foreign countries including the United States. I hope this Tokyo sake will be known among people in the world.


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