May 28, 2009

Rarities of Sake Brewery

There was a drinking party at the izakaya Nanoka in Tachikawa City, Tokyo, on May 24. The party titled "Drinking Contest Sake and Treasured Sake with Brewery Master from Toshimaya Syuzou" was held by the Tokyo Jizake community, which belongs to an SNS site in Japan. In this drinking event, we could meet many rarities including sake and other articles.

The served sake included sakes that had been placed in the sake tasting contests, 23-year aged kijoshu, and 17-year aged hojozo sake, which are difficult or even unable to see on shelves in liquor shops. In addition, I want to introduce rare articles, which are related to the brewery and were brought to the party by the brewery master of Toshimaya Syuzou sake brewery. Many of these articles had been stored in buildings of the brewery for many years.

They were brand-name aprons of the brewery, brand-name metal-sheet signboards, wooden lids of sake-bottle boxes, cotton hand towels, etc.

Sake tasting competition is also held at this time, and high achievers were given prizes in order of performance. Fortunately, I marked the best performance and got the apron shown below.

By the way, cotton hand towels and aprons are all right, but how will winners of the signboards and wooden lids do their prizes?

Toshimaya Syuzou will hold the "Seventh Nomikiri Open Brewery" event on June 7. You can pay 500 yen for entrance and drink different types of sake. Find your favorite sake and buy it there. I am also going to attend this event and buy my favorite sake.

May 27, 2009

Walkway from Station to Brewery (2)

Hello, everyone.

Lately, I drink too much and feel I need some exercise. To satisfy my drinking need and prevent the lack of exercise, I encourage people to walk before drinking!

This time, I introduce a walkway to Ishikawa Brewery. The brewery is located in Fussa City, where Tamura Syuzoujou, which I already introduced in the previous article, is also located.

Let's start at the north exit of the Haijima Station of the Seibu Line. First, visit the Nikkobashi Park and its adjacent Mizukuraido Park. Then, walk across the Ome Line and Itsukaichi Line to reach the Fukushoin Temple. Then, visit the Kumagawa Shrine and Mori-no-bijutukan Museum. Continue walking to the Tamagawa-ryokuchi Fussa Minami Park beside Tama River via the Shitanokawa-ryokuchi Seseragi-yuhodo Park. A few-minute walk from this Minami Park will bring you to Ishikawa Brewery. At the Italian restaurant on the premises, sake fresh from this sake brewery and draft beer also made in this sake brewery are waiting for you.

1. Nikkobashi Park and Mizukuraido Park
Enjoy walking along the Tamagawajosui Water Supply Channel in a thicket. Halfway, you will find an artificial rock that provides climbing holds on its surfaces. You can enjoy free climbing here. In the thicket, there is a bird-watching hide.

In the channel, carp are swimming and ducks are floating on the stream.

In the Mizukuraido Park, there is a trench remnant that was dug during the Edo period. This trench was intended to be used as a part of the Tamagawajosui Channel, but it turned out that the ground around this point quickly absorbs water and the trench could not convey water as it had first been expected. So, the plan was modified and a new roundabout course of the channel was built in the current place.

2. Vicinity of the Kumagawa Dori Avenue
There are Fukushoin Temple, Kumagawa Shrine, and Mori-no-bijutukan Museum along the Kumagawa Dori Avenue that runs in parallel with and to the west of the Okutama Kaido Street.

3. Shitanokawa-ryokuchi Seseragi-yuhodo Park
This park has a very long, narrow area along the foot of the river terrace extending north and south along Tama River. It ranges from around the point where the JR Itsukaichi Line runs to the Mutsumibashi Dori Avenue. This time, we walk only a southern part to the Mutsumibashi Dori Avenue.

4. Tamagawa-ryokuchi Fussa Minami Park
This is a turf-covered park established on the broad riverside ground of Tama River. Some are spending a relaxing holiday with families, and some are enjoying a ride on bikes.

5. Walk from the Minami Park to Ishikawa Brewery
Walk southward in the Tamagawa-ryokuchi Fussa Minami Park from the Mutsumibashi Dori Avenue, and find halfway a path that climbs up on the river terrace. This way brings you to Ishikawa Brewery soon.
You can drink sake or beer there. In my case, I felt thirsty after a long walk, and preferred draft beer to sake. Of course, I guarantee sake of this brewery is nice.

Click a marker on the map below to see the photo for your information when you walk this route.

より大きな地図で 酒蔵のある散歩道(石川酒造) を表示

Today's Sake
Nojun Genshu (Kitayasu Jozo Co., Ltd.)
Quite impressive sake with a rich taste. It has a remarkable bitter aftertaste, and it maybe goes well with food possessing an intensified taste.
Alcohol: 19%

May 24, 2009

Walkway from Station to Brewery

Hello, everyone. I feel I drink sake so much lately and I need some workout.

So, I walked a bit long walking trail, which starts at the JR Hamura Station, descends the Oterazaka Slope, reaches the diversion weir of Tamagawajosui Water Supply, and then, walks to Tamura Syuzoujou along the water supply channel (See the map at the end of this article).

The Tamagawajosui Water Supply Channel starts at the diversion weir of Tamagawajosui Water Supply that takes water from Tama River. The channel runs as long as about 43 kilometers through many cities including Fussa, Kodaira, Musashino Cities and reaches the Shinjuku Ward.

Walk from the from the west exit of the Hamura Station southwestward. About a five-minute walk from the station brings you to the beginning point of the Oterazaka Slope. There is a water place for horses some midway of the slope. There is a fountain in this place and people in the old days fed water to their horses here.

Beside the slope, there is the Inari Shrine. Mountains in the Okutama area can be seen from the place where this shrine stands.

Return to the slope and walk down the place and take the left before the slope ends. At this corner, there is Zenrinji Temple.
The slope name Oterazaka contains the word "tera," which means a temple. Actually, the name of the slope derived from this temple.

Seeing Kitaura Liquor Shop on your left and Japanese confectioner Yamadaya on your right, go straight to reach the Old Okutama Kaido Street.
By the way, I often buy sake from this liquor shop Kitaura.

The Tamagawajosui Water Supply Channel flows along the Old Okutama Kaido Street around here.

Walk across the bridge over the channel, then take the right, and walk toward the upper reaches of the channel for about a minute or so. Then, you'll see the statues of the Tamagawa Brothers. They were received the order that they supervise the construction of the channel, started the construction works in April of 1653, and completed the works in the next year. It took only a year and a few months for them to complete the works! This is an incredible speed compared of the sluggish progress of present-day public works.

The diversion weir of the channel is just several tens meters upstream from the statues.

You'll find an interesting thing at the point close to the weir. This is called ushiwaku, which is used for flood control. In the old days, they sunk many ushiwakus in the river for preventing flood disasters.

Well, walk down the walk trail along the channel from here.
Having been taken a great amount of water at the weir, Tama River looks a kind of miserable.

In the cherry blossom season, there are many outdoor stalls around the place of the photo on the left. The photo on the right shows the third water gate of the channel. From this gate, water is supplied to other reservoirs.

Downstream of the third gate, amount of the water flow is decreased as a lot of water has been taken away.

There are mulberry trees on the bank. They have a lot of mulberries at this time of the year.

The walk tail becomes narrow. I wonder the place around here is already in Fussa City?

There are benches in the Fussa Kami Josui Park. It may be a nice place to take a rest.

Walk further and further and you will come to a place where you see houses. Finally, you will reach a T-junction and you cannot go straight any further.

See the right at this intersection and you'll find a chimney ahead. This is the chimney of the very brewery at the goal point of this walkway.

Now, you have finally reached Tamura Syuzoujou. The buildings on the premises are quite admirable!

==The Map of the walkway==

より大きな地図で 酒蔵のある散歩道(田村酒造場) を表示

Today's Sake
Kasen Junmaishu Tamagawajosui (Tamura Syuzoujou)
Light taste, easy to drink!

May 20, 2009

Memories of Sake Cap Play

Hello everyone. Thank you for reading my blog.

This time, I write something retrospective about my boyhood. When I was an elementary schoolchild, we often played with sake caps.
Cork, which has been replaced with plastic material, was normally used for sake caps in the old days.

For the sake cap play, only the crown parts of sake caps are used. The parts that are to be inserted into the mouths of bottles must be removed with a knife or the like. Sake cap crowns, like trading cards in a trading card game, are to be booty of a game that is held between players.

How to play the sake cap play is simple. The defense player sets a sake cap on a flat horizontal place. The offense player sets the rim of his/her own cap on the rim of the defense player's cap, and then press down the rim to turn over the cap of the defense player. If the offense player can successfully turn over the cap of the defense player, he or she earns acquire the cap of the defense player.

It was interesting for me in my boyhood day to collect sake cap crowns on which various brand names and designs were displayed. When sake bottles are placed out in front of the kitchen door, I always checked if there were good sake caps. When I found a nice one, I was quite happy. Sometimes, I found good designs but was disappointed because the caps were made of plastic material.

Thus, I became acquainted with many sake brands although I was a little boy and never drank sake at that time. I think that this was probably the experience that interested me in sake for the first time in my life.

Let's Drink Nigorizake Merrily!

Last year, a person who was working for Ozeki Co., Ltd. attended our Christmas party (read the article of the Christmas party). He kindly brought a cask of sake to the party. The sake tasted crispy and, due to the cedar cask, it smelled fresh. It is said that regular sake acquires the scent of cedar and turns fragrant, after being stored in a cedar cask for a week or so. Actually, the cedar scent was so nice.

I feel that, while sake from microbreweries in various places in Japan is of course enjoyable, sake connoisseurs must evaluate sake from major companies such as Ozeki without prejudice.

Speaking of Ozeki, I was recently given a bottle of nigorizake named "Josen Karatanba Aragoto" of the same company, and I drank it Monday.

Having been stored in a fridge, the upper part was less clouded.

First, I had a cup of the less clouded part. It was quite dry.

Then, I had the next cup after shaking the bottle sufficiently.
The sake tasted a bit young, which was not bad. Also, I felt fine particles of moromi on my tongue.
In spite of high alcohol content, it could be drunk easily.

Very soon, I emptied the 720-ml bottle.
Oh, it is fun to drink nigorizake!

Today's Sake
Josen Karatanba Aragoto (Ozeki Co., Ltd.)
Please see the description above.
Alcohol: 17 - 18%