カテゴリー別アーカイブ: Have You Ever Been To…?

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Have You Ever Been to Saga Prefecture?

Have You Ever Been to Saga Prefecture?

Saga Prefecture is located in the north west of Kyushu and is the island’s smallest prefecture, but is the perfect getaway from the more-populated nearby areas of Fukuoka and Nagasaki.

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If you’ve ever visited Saga Prefecture, you have probably explored archeological wonders of Yoshinogari Park, where settlements here which are said to date from the Yayoi Period (300 BC to 300 AD),  walked around Yutoku Inari Shrine, which was built in honor of the deity known in Shinto Buddhism as Inari who is also known to guard foxes and rice, went shopping around Arita and Imari, known for its ceramics in the form of gorgeous pottery pieces, or even had a chance to participate in Saga International Balloon Fiesta, an international hot air balloon competition.

While sample the local delicacies such as the the delicious Saga beef, or squid at the Yobuko Morning Market, or Onsen Yudofu, tofu  with Saga spring waters from the local Ureshino onsen region, you might have had a chance to drink local Saga sake. Nogomi is a sake with sweet taste typical of Saga. Fermented at low temperatures, it takes about twice as long to brew as regular sake, and has a soft aroma and rich taste.

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Baba Shuzojo

The Nogomi area is surrounded by green mountains and a beautiful expanse of rural scenery. Baba Shuzojo has stood on the banks of the Nogomi area’s central river for more than 200 years. Although the brewery’s history dates back to 1795, it only began selling “Nogomi,” its refined sake loved by sake fans, when the 8th generation Daiichiro Baba took over the business.

In order to brew sake they can be proud of, Baba Shuzo continues its small-scale production and has gained fans in doing so. Baba Shuzojo sake pairs well with the rich flavors of Saga cuisine; the sweetness is not overwhelming, and you can taste the flavor of the rice.

Nogomi Junmai Ginjo is the most popular and representative sake of the brewery. This Junmai Ginjo is made from Yamada Nishiki from Kashima and is the result of the efforts of the farmers and the brewery. The aim is to create a sake that can be enjoyed in a variety of ways, so that everyone can enjoy it on a daily basis. The sake has a fruity aroma, but the taste of Yamadanishiki comes through, making it a perfect match for food. Although it is a Junmai Ginjo, it can also be enjoyed slightly warm.

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Have You Ever Been to Aomori Prefecture?

Have You Ever Been to Aomori Prefecture?

Aomori is the northernmost prefecture on Japan’s main island Honshu. Aomori draws visitors with its stunning natural environment, as well as hot springs, art, and delicious food.

If you have ever visited Aomori Prefecture you probably went to places such as Hirosaki castle, one of the finest places in the country for blossom viewing, enjoyed the expansive coastlines of Hachinohe, and you if you were lucky, you might have even taken part in the famous Nebuta festival in August! The festival features traditional music, fireworks displays, and a parade of floats illuminated from the inside by thousands of lights.

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After visiting Aomori’s attractions, you might have tried the local delicacies such as Kenoshiru (nourishing winter dish featuring diced vegetables, tofu, and fried bean curd in miso soup), Barayaki (grilled beef rib meat cooked on a hot plate), and of course the delicious Aomori’s apples and the apple pie. After all of the sightseeing activities and the food tasting, a cup of refreshing Aomori sake is a must! If you would like to try the high quality sake from Aomori, you might already know that Momokawa Brewery makes one!

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Momokawa Brewery

Momokawa Sake brewery was established in 1889 and is famous for its excellent quality sake. Momokawa sake is brewed with the pure water of the Oirase River, also known to the local residents as the Momoishi River.  The brewery’s expert team of certified first-class sake brewers is skilled in the techniques, traditions, and theory of the “Nanbu Toji,” a proud and well known school of master brewers that originated in Iwate Prefecture. This team is devoted to producing a top-quality product that meets the high standards of the Nanbu Toji and guarantees customer satisfaction.

Momokawa’s award-winning Nebuta brand sake derives its name from Japan’s famous Nebuta Fire Festival. One of the well-known products of this brand is Momokawa Nebuta Tanrei Junmai, which has won the numerous awards such as U.S. National Sake Appraisal and Japan’s Annual National Sake Contests. Made with the natural spring water from Oirase river combined with Aomori local grown sake rice Mutsuhomare, this dry junmai-shu is created to have a light, refreshing flavor and thirst-quenching taste. This sake can be served cold, at room temperature, or warmed.
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Have You Ever Been to Akita Prefecture?

Have You Ever Been to Akita Prefecture?

Akita Prefecture is a large prefecture located along the Japan Sea Coast of Japan. Mountainous, rugged, and traditional, the prefecture still remains one of Japan’s places of natural beauty. If you have ever been to Akita Prefecture, you have probably visited  the famous tourist attractions such as Kakunodate, where samurai residences were built during the Edo Period (around 1603-1868), and Nyuto Onsenkyo, where hot spring inns dot in the mountains.

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A prefecture fueled by rice farming, it’s no wonder Akita is home to the most delicious rice and food culture in general. When it comes to food in Akita, you might have tried kiritanpo which are rice skewers that are native to the prefecture, and a lot of special attention is paid in preparing them. Freshly cooked rice is pounded until it is slightly mashed, then moulded on skewers made from Japanese cedar, and toasted over charcoal fire in an open hearth.

Since Akita is one of the best rice-producing areas in the Tohoku region, it is also very active in producing sake, and you might have tried sake from one of the most well-known breweries in Akita.

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Akita Meijo

Made with high-quality rice and bountiful water—that’s Akita’s sake. To bring the mellow and profound flavor of this high-grade sake and share it with the nation, brewers, politicians, and investors gathered in 1922 (Taisho 11) and founded Akita Meijo, and thus the brand Bishu Ranman was born. Since its establishment, Bishu Ranman has consistently followed the philosophy of “sake quality first,” and has been conscious of providing a stable supply of uniform sake quality through brewing methods that take advantage of the natural climate and characteristics of Yuzawa City in Akita Prefecture.

Ranman Junmai Managutako is made with 100% Akita Komachi rice grown under contract with JA Komachi in Akita Prefecture. It is made by fully utilizing the flavor of the rice. It is characterized by the 100% rice flavor, moderate acidity, and a well-balanced, fresh aroma. The kite picture on the label is a Yuzawa Managu kite (Yuzawa Kites are a tradition dating back to the Genroku Period, and Managu refers to pure black kites) with a design of a Hannya mask and eyes (manako). This sake reveals the best qualities of Akita sake!

 

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Have You Ever Been to Iwate Prefecture?

Have You Ever Been to Iwate Prefecture?

Iwate Prefecture is located in the northern part of the Tohoku region. Its size is second only to Hokkaido, which boasts the largest area in Japan but also the lowest population density of any prefecture on Japan’s main island, Honshu, making it the perfect place to get off-the-beaten path in Japan. It a rural prefecture known for its scenic beauty of rugged coastlines, soft pink cherry blossom trees, and historical temples.

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If you have ever visited Iwate Prefecture, you have probably visited scenic spots such as Jodogahama Beach which is listed as one of the best beaches in Japan, Geibikei Gorge with its bright greenery in spring and summer and foliage in autumn, and seen the breathtaking views of steep Kitamiyazaki cliffs.

Iwate is also known for its unique local cuisine, which is dominated by a variety of noodles dishes. You might have challenged yourself to eat as many wanko soba (little bowls of soba noodles) bowls as possible, had the refreshing Morioka Cold noodles, or Morioka Jaja noodles, udon-like flat noodles served with a miso-meat sauce and topped with cucumber and garlic. While enjoying these dishes, might have also tried sake from Asabiraki, which is the largest brewery in Iwate. You can also try Asabiraki sake at the convenience of your home, and we have the perfect recommendation, which lets you experience the taste of Iwate!

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Asabiraki Junmai Ginjo Kanzukuri 

Asabiraki Junmai Ginjo Kanzukuri is truly a work of art from the legendary Nambu Toji, sake brewing guild group based in Iwate prefecture for over a hundred years. It is made with a special Kanzukuri (cold brewing) brewing style.

Kanzukuri is the name of a Japanese sake brewing technique that was the main brewing method from 1673 until 1926 and applies to those made in winter when the air temperature is low, which makes it easy to suppress the growth of germs and control the temperature of the mash. Although seasonal brewing is now possible due to industrial technology and air conditioning, it is still desirable to keep the temperature low to allow the yeast to work effectively so it is still used today. It is a hard job for brewery workers, who work from the early morning during winter, and their effort is reflected in the taste of sake.

Asabiraki Junmai Ginjo Kanzukuri has a delicate, not too assertive aroma that rises to the top, and a deep, slow-developing taste. Best served chilled for experiencing the true flavor, however if you would like to see a bit more of the acidity and dryness, it also works well warmed up a little (around 40-45°C).

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Have You Ever Been to Kochi Prefecture and Tried Sake from the Oldest Brewery in Kochi?

Have You Ever Been to Kochi Prefecture?

Kochi Prefecture is located on the island of Shikoku. The prefectural capital is Kochi City. The prefecture’s former name is Tosa. Tosa and its local hero Ryoma Sakamoto played an important historical role towards the end of the Edo period, and is considered to be one of Japan’s national heroes, remaining in the people’s memory for bringing peace to the land.

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Kochi is a natural paradise, with plenty of sunshine days and calming waters in the shape of clear rivers and lengthy coastlines. In addition to top sightseeing destinations and historic sights, it is also famous for its informal and folksy local markets and rustic food halls.

If you’ve ever had a chance to visit Kochi Prefecture, there’s a chance you might have visited the historic monuments such as Kochi Castle and Ryoma Sakamoto Museums, and the scenic nature places such as Katsurahama Beach and the gorgeous turquoise-colored Niyodo River. After enjoying these activities,  you might have tried delicious seared bonito or yuzu flavoured foods washed down with some local sake, which might have been from Tosatsuru, the biggest brewery in Shikoku. Excellent water, carefully selected rice, home-grown yeasts,  and traditional techniques to make dry sake -  that is what “Tosatsuru” is well known for.

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Tosatsuru Tokubetsu Junmaishu

Tosatsuru Brewery is located in Yasuda-cho, Aki-gun in the eastern part of Kochi Prefecture, with a distant view of Cape Muroto, and the Yasuda River, a clear stream flowing with sweetfish, runs right beside the brewery. Upstream of the Yasuda River is one of Japan’s three most beautiful cedar forests, the Yanase, and the rich forests and abundant summer rainfall provide the high-quality water, which can be called the “life of sake brewing”. The brewing water drawn from the brewery well is soft, and the well-balanced minerals in the water help the yeast to ferment healthy and strong.

We recommend Tosatsuru’s Special Junmai sake, which is a bit luxurious with a silky mouthfeel that is easy to drink. Enjoy it slightly chilled in a glass with your favorite dish. It goes well with dishes with creamy and robust flavors, such as avocado salad, pizza margherita, and shrimp fritters. The mellow fullness of this special junmai sake will make your precious moments a little richer than usual!

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Have You Ever Been to Niigata Prefecture?

Have You Ever Been to Niigata Prefecture?

Niigata Prefecture is located along the coast of the Sea of Japan in the Chubu Region. It is famous for its high quality rice, beautiful coastal and mountainous sceneries, skiing in winter and hot spring bathing around the year.

Amongst the Japanese, Niigata is regarded as one of the country’s best culinary hotspots because of its quality rice and sake. Niigata Prefecture boasts the largest number of sake breweries in Japan, with 89 breweries and one of the highest production volumes in the country. Niigata has been long recognized for having the some of the most refined rice cultivation techniques in all of Japan.

If you have ever visited Niigata Prefecture, after enjoying ski resorts and many breathtaking views, and trying local delicacies, such as hegi soba (soba noodles with smooth texture made with funori seaweed), noppe (traditional stew filled with bountiful ingredients), sasadango (mugwort flavored dumplings) you might have had a cup of Niigata produced sake. For those who would like to try Niigata sake, we have the perfect recommendation!

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Shirataki Sake Brewery

Shirataki Sake Brewery is nestled in the gorgeous mountains of Echigo Yuzawa area in Niigata Prefecture, where the moderate humidity and cold of winter are ideal for controlling bacteria growth and slowing fermentation to brew the finest premium sake.

Yearly, up to 15m of snow melts slowly into the earth and becomes minerally charged, impurity free groundwater 40-50 years later. This water not only tastes amazing, but when thoughtfully brewed with local rice, their sake delightfully embodies the natural notes of Echigo Yuzawa.

Our recommendation is Tanrei Uonuma Junmai, named after Uonuma area of Niigata Prefecture which is famed for its natural beauty. The kura-bito (brewery workers) have a long history of affection for the Uonuma area due to its production of excellent rice crops, and this is shown in Uonuma sake. It has a smooth, mellow mouth-feel with a delightfully savory-acidic balance that more than pops. Crisp, dry, and chuggable on the hottest of days.

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Have You Ever Been To Tochigi Prefecture? Maybe You Can Recognize This Sake?

Have You Ever Been to Tochigi Prefecture?

Located in the Kanto region of Honshu island, Tochigi Prefecture is best known for its vast and rich nature as well as the the many famous sightseeing spots, such as Shinkyo bridge, the three wise monkeys, and many onsens. Nikko, a city located in Tochigi Prefecture, is home to UNESCO World Heritage Site known as the Shrines and Temples of Nikko. It consists of the Nikko Tosho-gu shrine, Nikko Futarasan Jinja shrine, and Nikkozan Rinnoji Temple, which contain a total of 103 religious buildings and structures and the natural setting around them.

If you’ve ever been to Utsunomiya (the capital city of Tochigi prefecture) you have probably tried gyoza.  The city is famous for its gyoza dumplings, and they’re a huge producer of chives which are used for the filling. While eating gyoza, have you possibly tried sake from Tochigi prefecture? If you haven’t, or you would like to remember the taste of delicious gyoza and premium quality sake from Tochigi, we have just the rights products so you can have that experience conveniently at your home!

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Brewery in Tochigi – Tsuji Zenbei Shoten

Founded in 1754, Tsuji Zenbei Shoten is a traditional sake brewery that has been brewing sake in Tochigi prefecture for more than 200 years. While preserving the history and tradition, they have always adopted the latest technologies, and their Junmai Ginjo is brewed with local rice and water. With the slogan, “homemade taste is possible because we are small”, they aim to brew sake with the unique taste of Tochigi in close contact with the local community.

To experience the unique Tochigi sake, we recommend trying their Junmai Ginjo made with Gohyakumangoku, a sake rice with a polishing ratio of 53%. The middle part of the sake, which has the least amount of odd flavors, is bottled without any heat treatment. The aroma has a hint of fruitiness, and the palate is crisp, fresh and refreshing. It does not interfere with food at all.

The best food match this sake is, of course, gyoza! Our Strong Pork Gyoza is juicy and tasty pork Gyoza with Japanese style thin skins. It’s easy to prepare in just a few minutes, so you can easily enjoy the taste of Tochigi Prefecture!

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Have You Ever Been to Oita Prefecture?

Have You Ever Been to Oita Prefecture?

Oita Prefecture is situated at the northeast of Kyushu Region, and it is best known for the rich hot spring sources and often called the Onsen Prefecture. Yufuin, which is overflowing with Bohemian charm, and Beppu, home to Japan’s famous eight “bubbling hells” , are the two top visited Onsen towns in Japan. If you have visited Beppu, you might have gone on a jigoku meguri (helll tour) and seen the Sea Hell with blue water, the Blood Pond Hell with red water and the Oniishibozu Hell with boiling mud bubbles.

In addition to its onsens, Oita prides itself in the many natural delights nestled within its grand Kuju mountain range. You might have crossed Kokonoe Yume Otsurihashi Bridge, which is like walking through the sky with the virgin forest and valley below you, or enjoyed the scenic view of Harajiri Falls, which can be seen from a variety of angles, from the top, the front, and the riverbank near the bottom of the falls.

Oita also offers many delicious local dishes. Toriten, an Oita original, is made of bite-sized chunks of chicken seasoned with sake, garlic powder and ginger, rolled in flour and then deep fried in a tempura style. Beppy City has jigokumushi (literally “hell-steaming”), which is a style of cooking using the steam from natural hot springs to cook food, and is one of Beppu’s most famous customs, dating back to the Edo Period. While enjoying these local dishes, you might have had a drink of  shochu, which is Oita’s favourite alcoholic beverage. Many people think of barley shochu when they think of Oita’s liquor, and one of more well-know shochu in Oita is the Enma brand.

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Shochu From Oita Prefecture

The brewery that produces Enma shohcu was established in the Hita region of Oita Prefecture in 1789, in the middle of the Edo period. Since then,  Oimatsu Shuzo has been making shochu and sake from  barley and rice nurtured by the rich nature and limpid water filtered through a natural filter, the cedar forest.

A wooden tag hanging on the bottle of Enma series says, “In old sake breweries, there is a place that people can never get to. There is something still sleeping there after all these years…”. True to this saying, Enma has been aged for more than three years in a historic sake brewery, and is a gem with a full flavor and a rich aftertaste. Its quality has been highly evaluated in international competitions.

Our recommendation is Kuro Enma, barley syochu made entirely with black malt, from the first brewing stage to the second brewing stage. It has a crisp and deep flavor with a refreshing taste. Try this shochu if you want to experience the local Oita taste!

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Have You Ever Been to Mie Prefecture?

Have You Ever Been to Mie Prefecture?

Abundant with nature, Mie Prefecture is a popular tourism destination and is a wonderful place to enjoy sightseeing and food through every season. It is home to the Ise Jingu, Japan’s holiest shrine, dedicated to the sun goddess Amaterasu. However, Ise Jingu is just one of a wide variety of activities Mie tourists can enjoy.

Those who have been to Mie prefecture might might have visited places such as Iga Ueno Castle and the Iga-ryu Ninja Museum,  which is one of the only places in Japan where you can experience authentic ninja culture. You will also find a wide range of leisure attractions, such as Nagashima Spa Land, one of Japan’s best amusement parks, the Suzuka Circuit, a racetrack that hosts the F1 Japan Grand Prix and 8-hour endurance races, and Toba Aquarium, which boasts more species than any other in Japan. While enjoying the local delicacies, such as Matsusaka beef , Ise-ebi (lobster), and buffet type restaurants of all-you-can-eat oysters, perhaps you have had a glass of refreshing umeshu from CHOYA.

CHOYA is located in Mie and Osaka, where it first started as a wine-grape grower in 1914. Later in 1959 CHOYA began producing umeshu, a traditional Japanese ume fruit liqueur. Today CHOYA is the top umeshu producer in the world. Their mission is to produce and promote the finest umeshu made from natural ingredients.
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Fusion of Umeshu and Premium Green Tea 

The Choya Ujicha Umeshu is umeshu that that combines the traditional Japanese beverage “tea” and the traditional liqueur “umeshu”. The ingredients are carefully selected Uji tea leaves from Kyoto with a fresh aroma and umeshu with an elegant flavor.
The packaging is a cylindrical bottle that resembles a bamboo tube, with a delicate gradation of green, the color of tea, to express the luxurious and calm impression of this Green Tea Umeshu. The refreshing aroma of Uji green tea, elegant sweetness, and crisp aftertaste will appeal to a wide range of people, regardless of gender, as an alcoholic beverage.

Choya uses their original manufacturing method called Komireisen that brings out the original sweet and refreshing scent of Uji tea. When Uji tea is brewed in umeshu, it is slowly extracted at a low temperature to suppress the astringency that comes out when tea is brewed at high temperatures.

Drink it chilled straight or on the rocks!

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Have You Ever Been to Shimane Prefecture? It’s the Birthplace of Sake!

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.

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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.

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