Jun 30, 2009

Walkway from Station to Brewery (4)

This time, we visited Ozawa Syuzou, a sake brewery that was allegedly established in 1702. The brewery is located quite close to JR Sawai Station but we did not go to the brewery directly. We decided to first enjoy walking on a walkway lying along the Tama River and then visit the brewery. It was a shiny Saturday in June, when the weather is rainy almost everyday here in Japan. If we had walked on the asphalt road, the glowing sun would have excruciated us relentlessly. However, the walkway along the Tama River is quite comfortable thanks to tree shade in places. It was fun walking overlooking the river in which people were enjoying their kayaks or concentrating on their fishing poles.

Leaving JR Sawai Station, walk down a steep slope until you reach Ome Kaido Street. Cross this street at the crosswalk and go eastward for about 50 meters, and, on your right, you will find the slope that leads to Sawanoien, a rest station where you can enjoy sake and shopping. Actually, you can see the garden of these facilities below on your right. You will find the entrance of Sawanoien on your right at the bottom of this slope. The statue named Sawanosuke was beckoning us to enter Sawanoien, but we had decided go for a walk and have lunch at another place. See you later today, Sawanosuke! Just a little beyond the entrance, a directing post will tell you which way to go. From this point, we walked toward the upper stream along the riverside walkway.

From the walkway, you can overlook the cool limpid Tama River. There were those enjoying their kayaks in the river. The water looked cool. There are also sweetfish anglers. The method they were using for fishing was "Tomozuri," which used live decoys.

Probably, you need a straw hat or parasol in such a day of strong sunlight. I think it is rakish walking the pathway flanked by hydrangeas with wearing yukata kimono. This day, I was wearing yukata kimono with dragon patterns.

There was an unattended vegetable shop. I guess these long vegetables in the picture below were butterbur stems, and these red things were probably tomatoes. They were also selling pickled ume, which is a specialty of Ome City. The dog-like image depicted on the talisman affixed on the pillar seemed to have been received from the Mitake Shrine (FYI: read Takigi Kagura of the Mitake Shrine).

My word! I didn't expect to find a cafe on this walkway. A lady at the cafe called to us to drop in for some drink, saying "We have good Japanese-style rooms that will suit your yukata." Unfortunately, we had already decided to eat lunch soon at another restaurant. However, she let us see the inside of the cafe.

It must be nice to enjoy coffee in river breeze at a table in the pavilion overlooking the Tama River or chatting away with friends in an old-fashioned room being surrounded by antique furniture. I must remember the place of this cafe, "Tsuinkuru," for the next time.

There was a restaurant and inn, "Yuzu no Sato Shosenkaku," next to this cafe. We had lunch here after enjoying a hot citron bath they were offering.

The lunch was a Japanese style kaiseki set. Being named "Yuzu no Sato" (citron village), the restaurant served various foods using citron as an ingredient, including after-bathing citron tea, citron wine as an aperitif, and other dishes.

After we had had relaxing lunch, Shosenkaku kindly offered us a ride and drove us to Sawanoien, which is run by Ozawa Syuzou. At the sake tasting corner in Sawanoien, you can taste various types of Sawanoi sake at quite reasonable prices.

Memo: You can start walking from JR Mitake Station (next station to Sawai). In that case, the walkway you will walk along will be about twice as long as the way we take this time (but it is not very long, and you can walk through all the way in 20 to 30 minutes).


より大きな地図で 酒蔵のある散歩道(4) を表示

Today's Sake
Junmaiginjo Nama Genshu Ryobo-Reirou (Ishikawa Brewery)
Being modest in aroma but having rich taste of rice, this sake has a favorable impression. I perceive the acidity of some fruit in the aftertaste.
Rice used: Gohyakumangoku
Seimaibuai: 55%
Alcohol: 16 - 17%

Jun 26, 2009

New Sake Cups

I have been trying many types of sake until now, paying attention to which sake is rich in taste, which sake has a clean cut, and so on. Now, I admit that I have been somewhat indifferent to what beverageware to use.

Some of my sake friends often bring their beverageware to sake drinking parties. They bring their own cups and sometimes even their own katakuchis (bowl for pouring sake). Seeing their enjoying sake with their own favorite items, I also want to own such things.

Recently, I had a chance to drink and talk with a person who is selling sake beverageware on the Internet, and I became interested in his merchandise. I checked his site (http://www.drink-style.com/hyakkihyakusai/item/hyakki.html) and wanted to buy some pieces of his merchandise so badly. Finally, I went to the beverageware corner in the shop in Ishikawa Brewery, and bought two cups I liked. What do you think of these items? They are beautiful, aren't they?

Today's Sake
Tokubetsu Junmai Namazake Wataya (Kanenoi Shuzo)
I drank this sake in an izakaya restaurant. Information on the menu told that the rice used is Miyamanishiki and the sake meter value is +4. This time, sorry I don't have a photo.
I don't find any objectionable elements of taste and the sake runs smoothly though the throat. I feel this sake well represents the virtue of Miyamanishiki.

Jun 22, 2009

What is Kizo-shikomi?

When I was shopping in a supermarket in my vicinity recently, I picked up this carton-packed sake without much thought. The name of the sake read "Komedake no Yasashi Omoiyari" (tender consideration that only rice has). The carton contains 2,000 milli-litters and the sake is sold at the price of 880 yen, half the price of average regular sake (futsushu).

According to the indication on the package, the brewer's name of this sake is Koyama Honke Shuzo (http://www.koyamahonke.co.jp/index.html). This sake brewery is the main branch of Koyama Brewery in Kita Ward, Tokyo. So, this sake is a sort of a relative of Tokyo sake. In addition, the package tells that the sake is made by the method of "kizo shikomi." According to the explanation appearing on the package, they use sake to replace some amount of mother water. This reminds me the brewing method of kijoshu. However, this sake is far cheaper!

So, I became very much interested in this sake.

Well, I bought it. However, haven't drunk it yet.

What does this taste or smell like? I don't expect too much because of the price, but the question is the price performance.

Jun 13, 2009

Walkway from Station to Brewery (3)

Hello everyone, this is the third article of "Walkway from Station to Brewery" series. This time, I will introduce a route that starts at the Higashimurayama Station on the Seibu Sinjuku Line. We walk to the Kumano Shrine along the Ancient Kamakura Kaido Street, and then visit the Baigan-ji Temple to finally reach Toshimaya Syuzou. See the map I provide at the end of this post for photos and details of the course.

It was last Sunday when my friends and I walked this route. It was an only fair hot day among the consecutive rainy days. In front of the east exit of the Higashimurayama Station, at the center of the rotary, there was a fountain pond, where fledglings with their mother duck were enjoying cold water, while we traced the walkway with frequently wiping sweat with a hand towels.

After leaving the station behind, proceed eastward for about 100 meters to reach the Higashimurayama Station East Exit crossing, and then take the left. Now, you are on the Fuchu Kaido Street. Go northward for about 200 meters along the street and find the narrow alley leaving the street at a sharp angle (see the photo). This is the Ancient Kamakura Kaido Street.

You will find someone's house enclosed with walls and a decent front gate. The garden trees on the premises seem to be well maintained. In front of the gate is the wooden marker post telling you are on the "Historic Site: Ancient Kamakura Kaido Street." You may expect that you will find a good old Japan on this street ahead. Sorry, this is just an ordinary community road. Not finding anything to be noted, you are to walk for a while along the quiet back alley that runs in parallel with the Seibu Sinjuku Line.

After about an 800-meter walk, or about 15 minutes, from the point leaving the Fuchu Kaido Street, you will come to a T-junction. An old gatehouse faces you across the street. If you take the right, you will walk across the Fuchu Kaido Street and reach Toshimaya Syuzou in several minutes. However, this "Walkway from Station to Brewery" will not be so attractive if you do so. Therefore, take the left here and then take the right very soon at the point just before the billboard of a stone dealer shown in the picture on the right below.

After turning around the corner, you will see shelter trees on your right side. The land surrounded by the gatehouse, the corner your just turned around, and these trees seems to belong to a single household. Since it was a hot day when I walked here, the shelter trees provided a pleasant shade over the alley. You will bump into a road lying east and west after proceeding on this alley for a while. The road is just in front of the Kumano Shrine.

The gods enshrined in this shrine are Izanagi no Kami, Izanami no Kami, and Amaterasu Okami, who are very famous as major players in the Japan's mythology. A shrine building stands facing the Torii gate, and there is another building as big as this one behind it. The front building is the haiden, and the rear is the honden, which are translated as the worship hall and main hall, respectively.

There is a small pond beside the shrine, and beyond the pond is the Kumano Koen Park, which seems to be a good playground for children.

Next, let's leave the Kumano Shrine for the Baiganji Temple, which is in the east-northeast direction of the shrine. Trace the road in front of the shrine eastward to reach a crossing on the Fuchu Kaido Street. Form here, take the way on the left side of the gas station (the Fuchu Kaido Street is the way on the right side of the gas station). Go straight on this way and take the right at the second crossing, and you will see the front gate of the Baiganji Temple.

There is a gigantic Zelkova tree on your left behind the gate. Designated as a natural monument of Tokyo, it measures 7.1 meters in its circumference and 32.5 meters in its height. On your right side is also a huge kaya tree, which has been designated as a natural monument of Higashimurayama City. It measures 5 meters in its circumference and 30 meters in its height. I think it is rare that such magnificent trees stand at one place.

Well, after feeling overwhelmed by the marvelous trees, let's see the precincts of the temple. The architecture of buildings including the front gate is magnificent and the well-maintained garden makes you feel purified.

Then, how should you get to Toshimaya Syuzou from the Baiganji Temple? You may get to the Fuchu Kaido Street and walk along the street until you reach the Kumegawa-tsuji Crossing, and then turn to the left. However, there is a shorter way. Leave the front gate of the temple to walk southward until you bump into a T-junction, and take the left to proceed to the Fuchu Kaido Street. Walk across the street and proceed further to another T-junction and take the right. Go straight from here south-south-westward. Around here, you see a school on your left. After about a 300-meter walk, you will reach a three-forked crossing. Take the left at this point, and walk for a while to reach Toshimaya Syuzou.

On the day when we visited this brewery, they were holding a Nomikiri event. At the entrance, each of us paid 500 yen as an admission fee or handed over a previously obtained invitation ticket to a clerk and was given a porcelain sake cup for tasting. Visitors could taste any of various sakes of the brewery and buy what they liked.

As to the places of interest in the walkway at this time, setting the brewery aside, I can name the Kumano Shrine and Baiganji Temple. The Ancient Kamakura Kaido Street sounds attractive from its name, but actually it is a mere community alley and there isn't anything special to see. The Toshimaya Syuzou seems to accept visitors who want to have a study tour into the brewery, but prior booking is required.


より大きな地図で 酒蔵のある散歩道(豊島屋酒造) を表示

Jun 10, 2009

Drinking at Home

When drinking at home, you don't need to care about the last train or bus. You can drink as much as you like, get shit-faced, and sink into good sleep, wrapping yourself with a blanket.

Last Saturday, to be exact, from Saturday evening to the early morning of Sunday, we had a sake drinking party in my house.

Two of my friends came to my place around five o'clock, then another came after 30 minutes. So, we were four people, and we enjoyed a little cozy drinking party.

It seems sake lovers always want their friends to drink their favorite sake and bring their recommended sake to friends using every opportunity. Also this time, they actually brought to the party one or two bottles of their favorite sake. How nice these sake lovers are!

While I like a merry big party including several tens of people, with whom I can have good communication, share laughter, and enjoy cuisine with various drink, I also like a small relaxing party held among good affable friends. Since I had told them that they could stay overnight in the drinking hall in my house, they could continue drinking until they became unable to walk without problems (however, no one got drunk to such a degree), and I think they enjoyed themselves over sake, foods, and talk.

We started with kanzake, or warmed sake. I prepared three junmai sakes intended for warmed sake: Junmaishu Koshi no Kagiroi, Junmaishu Kisho, and Mizuho Kuromatsu Kembishi (yamahai junmai sake). We enjoyed the distinct taste of each of these junmai sakes. I think warming some sake fully extracts the potential of sake, making the drink quite enjoyable.

Then, we had other sakes chilled. These sakes were Junmai Ginjo Namazume Oze no Yukidoke, Aizu Chujo Junmai Daiginjo Yuri, Junmai Ginjo Tamura Namazake, Esshu Sakurabiyori (ginjo), and Kasen Funeshibori Muroka Nama Genshu. These were ginjo, daiginjo, or nama type sakes, which had fresh and fragrant flavors.

The last sake, but not as one of the least importance, was the Masudaya Hisatoshi Edozukuri. This sake was very sweet with the sake meter value of -20. The rice polishing rate of this sake is as high as 90%. This value is as almost high as that of table rice we consume as daily diet. In the Edo period, when good rice polishing machine were not available, it was impossible to polish rice down to a degree of 50 or 60%, which is quite normal for modern sake brewing. (This sake is quite thick and sweet in taste, but more importantly it has strong acidity with complex taste of amino acid, making its taste profound and meaningful.) This sake has an elegant aged aroma. Its strong acidity braces the taste, making tasters unaware of its sake meter value. The sake actually feels sticky if it is smeared on your fingers, but tastes rather flinty, even leaving a dry aftertaste.

Anyway, the sake drinking party this time has made me to renew my understanding that the taste of sake is such diverse! The more sakes I experience, the more I recognize the profoundness of the sake world.

Today's Sake
Masudaya Hisatoshi Edozukuri (Igarashi Syuzo Co., Ltd.)
Please see the description above.
Rice used: Yamadanishiki harvested in Saitama Prefecture
Seimaibuai: 90%
Alcohol: 17%
Sake meter value: -20
Acidity: 3.0
Amino acid: 2.4

Jun 5, 2009

An Izakaya Involving a Risk?

Recently, my drinking friends and I went to the izakaya restaurant "Mujinaya," which is in a 10-minute walking distance of JR Tachikawa Station.

Using a coupon and discount services, each of us paid only 5,000 yen for foods and Jizake Nomihodai Course (in a nomihodai course, you can drink specified beverages as much as you like. Sake they had were Mutsu Hassen, Suiro, Ugo no Tsuki, Uragasumi, Shimeharizuru, and other attractive brands.

In general, a nomihodai course is like for those who place quantity before quality, and it offers you limited choices of alcohol beverages to order, which are not very expensive. However, a good point of this izakaya is that their Jizake Nomihodai Course provides you with a wide range of sake selection. In addition, while you can enjoy this Jizake Nomihodai Course over the duration of three hours (a usual nomihodai course lasts only two hours).

In this restaurant, sake can be ordered by the small glass as well as by the normal size one. The normal size glass contains 180 milliliters while the small one, 90 milliliters. So, even if you cannot drink so much, you can enjoy various types of sake.

As to food, every served item was quite good and seemed to have been carefully prepared with extra labor. In a nutshell, I was very much satisfied by the food, too.

We enjoyed various delicious sakes to our hearts' content for three hours, saying, "Hey, this Uragasumi is yummy! Have a try." or "Let me try yours. Ummmm, nice sake! I order the same one, too." Thus, we continue drinking sake one after another. Oh, this izakaya involves a grave risk of drinking too much!!!

Today's Sake
Mutsu Hassen Natu-ginjo Muroka Namazake (Hachinohe Syuzou)
The flavor is quite round, making the sake easy to drink. I drank this sake at the izakaya restaurant introduced above. At this time, I had many cups of sakes, one cup of each except this Mutsu Hassen, which I really liked and had three cup of it.
Seimaibuai: koji rice 55%, kake rice 60%
Alcohol: 13.8%