It's Sakura Season in Japan!

20 Mar 2019

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Cherry Blossom (Sakura) Symbolism

For hundreds of years, Japanese cherry blossoms have held several significant meanings to Japanese people. It is much more than just a flower, it is part of an age-old philosophy and today, the emblem of an entire nation.

The tradition of hanami (litearally “flower watching) started in Japan in the Heian period (794-1185). It usually involves admiring cherry blossoms with family, friends or co-workers. Based on the Japanese philosophy of mono no aware, appreciating the beauty of short-lived things, hanami is an activity that promotes self-reflection.

Although the cherry blossoms are admired when they are still beautiful and in bloom with all their petals, they drop to the ground and wither in record time before the eyes of those who observe them. The cherry blossoms only last for a short period of time, as does life of the man who admires them.

In that sense, hanami reminds us the fragility of life and that we must make the most of it. This burgeoning seasonal change also marks the start of the new school term for students, as well as the new fiscal year, and encourages Japanese people to take the time to think about their future desires and projects.

Today, the cherry blossom symbolizes Japan internationally. It even serves as a diplomatic gift when officials are invited abroad.

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Nishiyama Brewery in Hyogo

Founded in 1849, Nishiyama is a classically modern brewery, respecting its history while forging ahead with new styles for the future. They are located deep in the heart of Hyogo, one of the great sake regions of the country, and blessed with the best conditions to grow premium sake rice. While breweries from around the country will do their best to secure a little Hyogo sake rice for their most premium batches, Nishiyama is able to grow their own rice in the areas surrounding the brewery.

They use the pristine soft water from their on-site wells to make sake of purity, power, and elegance. Nishiyama Shuzo strives to make sake that is made only from water from their own wells, locally grown heirloom rice, the majority of which comes from their own estate paddies, and an exclusive yeast strain. They also limit production to remain sustainable and to maintain their resources and outstanding quality.

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Kotsuzumi Junmai Ginjo Hanafubuki

In Japanese, hana (花) means flower and fubuki (吹雪) means snow storm. So, hanafubuki literally means ‘flower snow storm’ – or more commonly, ‘cherry blossom blizzard’. It happens once a year when the sakura petals begin to fall.

In the haiku world, "hanafubuki" is synonymous with spring, as the appearance of cherry blossoms falling in the form similar to snow is characteristic of the spring season (especially from spring to late summer).

Kotsuzumi Junmai Ginjo Hanafubuki is a beautiful clear blue bottled sake from Hyogo, Tanba's premium Nishiyama Brewery. It goes well with delicate Japanese dishes such as sashimi, sushi, vinegar flavored dishes, etc. It is  restrained and versatile sake that begins with a delicate light nose of melon rind and young green fruit, with light texture that creates a balanced and transcendent sake. Kotsuzumi Junmai Ginjo Hanafubuki  has won numerous awards, such as International SAKE Challenge - Trophy (2014), London SAKE Challenge - Silver Medal (2014) Bronze Medal (2015), U.S. National Sake Appraisal - Silver (2015).

The label, designed by artist Hirosuke Watanuki, whose works are found in museums of Europe, Africa, and Lisbon National Modern Art Museum, depicts “hanafubuki” over the Mt Fuji. This is a sake that represents the beauty of cherry blossoms!

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