Have You Ever Been to Shimane Prefecture? It's the Birthplace of Sake!25 Mar 2021
Have You Ever Been to Shimane Prefecture?
Stretching along the San-in coastline bordering the Sea of Japan, Shimane prefecture defies easy categorization. Although accessible easily from Hiroshima, the prefecture nevertheless still feels remote, and is one of Japan’s least visited. Rural traditions and pristine landscapes remain untouched for centuries thanks to efforts to preserve the region's cultural heritage. If you had a chance to visit Shimane, you have probably been to the famous Izumo Taisha.
Izumo Taisha is one of the most ancient and important Shinto shrines in Japan, and it has been said that all the deities throughout Japan gather once every year and hold meetings here in Izumo, Shimane Prefecture. Every year during October, based off the lunar calendar, gods throughout Japan travel to Izumo to conduct their annual conference and take this path to the shrine. In this region, this time is called kamiarizuki or “month of the gods”, when festivals are held in their presence welcoming them to the Izumo region.
The area of Shimane is also said to be the birthplace of sake. This widespread belief is based on myths about sake’s ties to Shimane’s Izumo region recorded in the Kojiki. The first mention of sake in the Kojiki, an early-8th century chronicle of Japanese legends and oral traditions based on historical accounts, tells the story of how the god Susanoo used eight buckets of sake to kill the gigantic eight-headed serpent Yamata no Orochi at Izumoto save the village.
Have You Tried Sake from Shimane Prefecture?
While enjoying famous dishes of Shimane prefecture, such as Izumo soba or freshwater clams, you might have had a cup of Shimane produced sake, and it might have been from a brewery called Rihaku.
Rihaku is based in Matsue, Shimane prefecture, and they make several types of sake, at least one for each occasion. The diligent effort and great skill of toji (head of the brewery) and kurabito (brewery workers) are evidenced by the many gold medals the brewery won in the New Sake Tasting Competition.
Rihaku Junmai Blue Purity is made with a recently developed rice Kannomai, which is only used in Shimane prefecture. Kannomai means "god dance", and you can almost imagine how Shinto Gods enjoy this sake while dancing and partying at the annual conference at Izumo Taisha. Rihaku Junmai BLUE PURITY has a quite complicated flavour such as a combination of Matsu pine resin, roasted chestnut and a touch of honey and bitter cacao. Dryness and umami of Kannomai rice is perfectly balanced, you can easily drink one cup after another. Drink chilled or slightly warm.