月別アーカイブ: 2018年12月


Greet the New Year with Eikun Kotosennen Junmai Ginjo!

Tradition to drink sake on New Year in Japan

There are many traditions during New Year in Japan such as eating toshikoshi soba and osechi ryori, watching the sunrise on the first day of the New Year, ringing the bell at the temple, etc. Sake is also a big part of many rituals in Japan and it is a rare occasion and ceremony that does not include some sake, and that harbinger of renewal, New Year’s Day, is no exception.

Although sake figures prominently in New Year’s celebrations from morning to night, opening the year with a prayer for health in the form of drinking o-toso is perhaps the most interesting.

O-toso is sake that has been specially prepared by steeping a mixture of herbs in it for several hours. Drinking it with family in ceremonial fashion first thing on New Year’s Day is said to ward off sickness for the entire year ahead, as well as invite peace within the household. The tradition of o-toso originally came from China, and originally the mixture consisted of eight herbs. Things have naturally changed slightly over the years, and some of the herbs have changed as a couple in the original concoction were deemed too potent. But most remain true to the original recipe.

BeFunky-collage (4)

Toso is drunk to flush away the previous year’s maladies and to aspire to lead a long life. For generations it has been said that “if one person drinks this his family will not fall ill; if the whole family does no-one in the village will fall ill”, and has been a staple part of New Year’s osechi cuisine in Japan.

Another common type of sake enjoyed at New Year’s time is taru-zake. Like O-toso, taru-zake is not a brand of sake, and almost all brewers make some. It is sake that has been stored or aged for a period of time in a cedar caks, so that the woody flavor of the keg is imparted to the sake. It takes on a strong and pleasant cedar taste and aroma.

Sake Recommendation for greeting New Year

The recommended sake is Eikun Kotosennen Junmai Ginjo which is super clean and fruity. Sweet and sour fragrance reminiscent of grapefruit, mandarin orange, pineapple and yogurt slowly spreads in the mouth until the very end of the palate. It is made with highest quality ingredients from Kyoto prefecture. Water comes from Fushimi which is distinguished by having access to spring water of exceptional quality. This water produces elegant, not too overly sweet, and soft sake. It is made with Iwai rice which gives this sake fragrance and nice mouthfeel.

It is an award winning sake with high quality ingredients. It is very much suitable for New Year’s celebration! We wish a Happy New Year and a happy sake sipping!






Try something different this Christmas instead of the usual Champagne or sparkling wine!


With the holiday season in full swing, sparkling wine and Champagne consumption is on the rise. Fizzy drinks go with the season – bottles are popped open at office Christmas parties, midday festive lunches, or enjoyed by the fire at night. If you are fond of bubbly alcoholic beverages, you may be looking for something a little different this year, to expand your palate and keep the monotony at bay. Sparkling sake is the answer!

Although there are no legal specifications to define the sparkling sake category, it is usually distinguished by its low alcohol content and sweet rice taste. It is becoming increasingly popular among younger and female drinkers. Most varieties are slightly cloudy, sweet and tangy with alcohol content below sake’s average 15%. The sweetness comes from rice and most of the sparkling sake has no added sugar, as their ingredients are the same as normal sake, i.e. rice, rice koji, yeast and water.

The sparkling part come through during fermentation. When yeast is added to sake rice, it begins to “eat” these sugars from rice and converts them into alcohol and carbon dioxide (bubbles). In normal sake, these bubbles escape the fermentation tank, resulting in the more familiar, flat sake. Through a practice called tank fermentation, the bubbles are kept in the tank and forced to dissolve into the beverage through increased pressure. This method is also used in beer production.

Another way is to add a small portion of the yeast-laden lees to the sake before bottling to induce secondary fermentation, mirroring champagne production. Bottle fermentation tend to result in more cloudy sake, with smaller bubbles and finer texture.

Sparkling sake works best in your champagne flutes. The flute brings out the goodness in sparkling sake in the same way it does for sparkling wine. But for something with a touch of bubbly effervescence, the Aai Sparkling Sake on the right is the perfect refreshment so give yourself a chance to dust off your favorite flutes. Sparkling sake is a new style of sake enjoyment. It is easy to drink and refreshing with fruity and sweet taste.

Aai Sparkling Sake will be a perfect starter of your Christmas party with your friends, family or colleagues. It goes well with fresh oysters, fresh salmon carpaccio and sashimi with wasabi.

We invite to try Aai Sparkling Sake during this Christmas, served chilled in your favorite flute glass!

BeFunky-collage (3)






Enjoy Japanese Winter Solstice with Enchigo Koshihikari Beer and Pumpkin Croquettes!

Tradition to eat pumpkins on winter solstice

December 22 is winter solstice in Northern Hemisphere marking the day with the shortest period of daylight and the longest night of the year. In Japan, it is celebrated by taking yuzu bath which is said to prevent cold and flu; and eating pumpkin. The Japanese believe that yuzu has a warming effect on the body and helps improve blood circulation, relieve skin conditions and eliminate toxins. It is said that if you take a yuzu bath on the solstice you won’t catch a cold all winter.

Eating food which ends with ‘n’ on winter solstice was thought to bring luck. Therefore, people ate food such as “ninjin (carrot)”, “renkon (lotus root)”, “ginnan (ginkgo nut)” and “kanten (agar)”. The common name to call pumpkin in Japanese is “kabocha” but also called as “nankin” so it is also recognized as bringing good luck.

Pumpkins were considered to be the best winter food which contain plenty of vitamins to make your body more resistant to viruses. The harvest of autumn vegetables was mostly finished by winter solstice in Japan in the old days, and there were little vegetables to eat. Therefore, in order to stay healthy throughout the winter, Japanese believed pumpkins to be very valuable as winter food since they can be preserved for a long time and are high in nutrients.

BeFunky-collage (1)


Echigo Koshihikari Beer is a great match to pumpkins!

Echigo Koshihikari Beer is the flagship brand of Echigo Brewery. It is a rice style lager with 5% alcohol. While the malt ingredient is imported from Europe, the rice is harvested literally from the backyard of Echigo Brewery. Though this beer is categorized as being dry, the brewery uses the time-consuming German decoction method to bring out the natural sweet flavor from the Niigata grown Koshihikari rice, which can appeal even to those who do not like dry beer.

Light beers are best known for their pale-yellow color and refreshing taste. This style of beer is also one of the most versatile, pairing well with a variety of dishes. Light lagers are among the palest type of beer, and they are well known for their crisp and refreshing taste.

Light-tasting beer complements light tasting food so we recommend trying pumpkin croquettes. These pumpkin croquettes crispy on the outside and naturally sweet and savory on the inside.

We invite to join this Japanese tradition to eat pumpkin while drinking Echigo Koshihikari beer during winter solstice. We hope it will bring luck to you!

BeFunky-collage (2)











12th December is Mentaiko Day – celebrate it with mentaiko snacks and Yuzu Umeshu!

Mentaiko Day origins

December 12th is known as Mentaiko Day in Japan. It celebrates the origins of Mentaiko when it was first brought to Shimonoseki port from Korea.

Shimonoseki in Yamaguchi prefecture is known as the birthplace Mentaiko. It was here that mentaiko was transferred from Korea to Japan for the first time. Maeda Marine Company has been spreading mentaiko culture nationwide since then; and now mentaiko has become a specialty of Shimonoseki city. The date originated in December 12, 1914 (Taisho era 3rd year) when the name “Mentaiko” first appeared in the Kanmon Daily Newspaper in Japan.

Mentaiko, pollack roe slowly marinated in chili pepper sauce, is commonly eaten in Japan. It is made in a variety of flavors and colors and is available at airports and main train stations. It is usually eaten with onigiri, but is also enjoyed by itself with sake. A common variety is spicy mentaiko. Milder version is called tarako.

Mentaiko is served in several ways: plain (usually for breakfast), as a filling for onigiri, and as a pasta sauce (usually with nori). Recently in Japan, mentaiko pasta has become very common and popular. Mentaiko is mixed with butter or mayonnaise and used as a sauce for spaghetti. Thin strips of Nori are often sprinkled on top. Mentaiko flavored snacks are also very popular, you will find them in any supermarket in Japan.

Traditionally, mentaiko was dyed bright red, but recent concerns about the safety of food coloring have all but eliminated that custom.


Recommended pairing

Yuzu umeshu can go well with many kinds of foods depending on how you drink it. When drinking yuzu umeshu straight, the sweet and sour taste is highly concentrated, so it is best paired with food that has a strong flavor. Salty and spicy foods are an especially great combination with yuzu umeshu when enjoyed straight.

Since mentaiko has rich and deeply savory taste, therefore yuzu umeshu is the perfect combination!

Try these mentaiko flavored snacks to enjoy while sipping on Nakano BC Yuzu Umeshu.

You will need:

Minari Mentaiko furikake

Processed cream cheese wrapped in foil

Umaibou Mentai Aji


Just put the furikake on cream cheese and enjoy it as a snack with Yuzu Umeshu.

Umaibo is small, puffed, cylindrical corn snack from Japan.  Its consistency is similar to Cheetos. Mentaiko flavor umaibo is also a great match to Yuzu Umeshu.

We wish you a tasty Mentaiko Day!




06280427_53ae4415a5c5a   10141426_5800505fc2f69