Jan 11, 2011

Taruzake and fukubukuro

During New Year's Holidays, Japanese have various special events. Among such events, I will write about two things relating to sake: taruzake and sake fukubukuro (casked sake and sake lucky bags).

Taruzake means sake contained in a cedar cask. Usually low-priced regular sake is used for taruzake. After having been stored in a cask for an appropriate period under pertinent conditions, the sake takes the scent of cedar, and turns into a beautiful sake due to the magic of the cedar scent.

People bring a cask of sake to a party or gathering which is to celebrate some happy event, for example, some couple's wedding, the opening of a new store, people's happily welcoming the New Year, etc. They crack open the cask, ladle the sake out of it, and make a toast.

On January 9, Ozawa Syuzou welcomed visitors at the Sawanoien rest station with taruzake free of charge. The dry Sawanoi regular sake had added to freshness in the cask, and people must have enjoyed a refreshing sensation.

In front of the souvenir shop of Sawanoien, fukubukuros were displayed on cedar casks. A fukubukuro, meaning a lucky bag and being sold during New Year's days, is a commercial custom that is said to have been started in the Edo period by a major long-established department store in Japan. A fukubukuro contains commercial goods and is usually sold at a lower price than the total prices of the contents.

Sawanoien was also selling fukubukuros. What are the contents? Of course, bottles of sake.

Actually, I bought a 10,000-yen bag. The bag itself was a piece of Sawanoi commercial goods, a tote bag with the company's logo printed on it, containing a small wooden sake cup and three 720-ml little bottles: Daiginjo Bon Tobingakoi Nama, Daiginjo Genshu, and Junmai Ginjo Soten Genshu. The contents were quite satisfactory for me.


thesoulofjapan said...

That's looks so good! And with sake, even better. Very nice.

Ichibay said...

Tony san,
Only 15 of those lucky bags were sold this year. I know an employee of this brewery, and she said that the tobingakoi namazake version of Bon ("梵") is a limited product and evan the employees cannot buy this sake.