月別アーカイブ: 2019年7月

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July 30th is Umebohi Day! Try Shochu with Umeboshi!

Health Benefits of Umeboshi

Highly salted pickled plums, or umeboshi, have been a beloved part of the Japanese diet for centuries, prized for their preservative qualities and health benefits as well as their distinctive mouth-puckering sourness and salty tang.

This Japanese style traditional condiment is believed to be a digestive aid, prevention of nausea, and for systemic toxicity, including hangovers. The citric acid is believed to act as an antibacterial, help to increase saliva production and assist in the digestion of rice. Additionally, umeboshi is claimed to combat fatigue (historically given as part of a samurai’s field ration) and protect against aging.

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July 30th is Umebohi Day!

On July 30th Umeboshi Day is celebrated in Japan. Since the old times, there is a saying in Japan that if you eat umeboshi, the troubles will go away (Umeboshi o taberu to nan ga saru). The date is made by Japanese wordplay, called “goroawase”

In Japanese language, there are multiple ways to read some of the same things and there are also multiple alphabets being used, and with numbers only, there are three different ways (or more) to read each one of them: onyomi, kuyomi and English. Goroawase is an especially common form of Japanese wordplay whereby homophonous words are associated with a given series of letters, numbers or symbols, in order to associate a new meaning with that series.

If we make goroawase from “Nan ga saru”, nan represents 7, gasa is 3, and ru is 0. That is why 30th of the seventh month is called Umeboshi Day!

Recommended drink

Kaido Iwai no Aka is shochu made by Hamada Shuzo. It has a soft mouthfeel, huge presence of umami, and a clean aftertaste. Kaido Shochu is a blend of sweet potato and rice Shochu. It is made using Koganesengan sweet potatoes from Kagoshima, and rice koji made with 100% Japanese rice, then is crafted skillfully and carefully using Black Koji.

Kaido iwainoaka features a refreshing yet crispy, and rich and mellow taste. It goes well not only with Japanese cuisine but also with Italian and Chinese cuisine. You can enjoy it while having a meal. All the ingredients in this shochu are from Japan,  and the attractive red bottle image represents the red sun setting into the East China Sea.

Umeboshi is a great garnish for shochu, and it is actually one of the most popular drinks in izakaya (Japanese pub)! We recommend trying Kaido Iwai no Aka with umeboshi! It is very simple to make – just choose your favorite way to drink shohcu (Kaido iwainoaka is exceptional on the rocks, mixed with cool or hot water, as well as straight) and garnish with umeboshi!

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July 20th is Hamburger Day! Celebrate with Echigo Koshihikari Beer

First McDonald’s in Japan

July 20th is Hamburger Day in Japan. This commemorates the opening of McDonald’s first Japanese store in Ginza Mitsukoshi in 1971.

On Tuesday, July 20th 1971, the first McDonald’s shop in Japan opened suddenly on the first floor of Mitsukoshi Department Store in Ginza. Why “suddenly?” Because, to avoid any interference with the department store’s regular operations, the construction of the shop was complete in only 39 hours; beginning after the store was closed in evening on Sunday and used the following Monday, the monthly holiday of the store.

Den Fujita, the entrepreneur who held the franchise rights for McDonald’s in Japan, insisted on Ginza as the location for the first McDonald’s shop. In the United States, the most logical places for McDonald’s restaurants would be the suburbs, but Fujita reasoned, “When something happens in Ginza, the whole country finds out about it. If we succeed in the business here, the name “McDonald’s” spreads throughout Japan.”

The first shop was a small area of only 50 square meters, offering a take-out service only. However, on weekends and holidays, the Ginza pedestrian precinct was soon filled with young shoppers strolling with a hamburger in one hand.

Today, we can find McDonald’s restaurants everywhere. It is one of the is the most popular, if not the most popular, fast food chain in the world, but in Japan in 1971, those were just new and weird; those who on the pedestrian precinct surprised many passersby.

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Hamburger and Beer Is the Perfect Match

The beer we recommend is Echigo Koshihikari Rice Lager. Lagers are one of the best beers for burgers since they’re clean, crisp, smooth and bubbly and are inherently drinkable – not too hoppy, malty or bitter.

Echigo Koshihikari is a rice style lager with 5% alcohol. It’s a pale golden color that comes out of the bottle, with a strong head that quickly fades. It has a slightly acidic tang to the regular lager flavor, but it is not too overpowering. The beer has a crisp and refreshing flavor, and exceptionally soothing and smooth quality. The sweet aroma of rice, and eloquent fragrance of hops, make it the perfect complement to any dish. Also, the hops in a beer flavor can help to reset and cleanse the palate between bites, and help cut through of the fat and grease of the burger.

Enjoy Echigo Koshihikari Beer with hamburger on this Hamburger Day!

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Celebrate Okashi Day with Umaibo and Echigo Koshihikari Beer!

15th of Every Month is Okashi Day!

The National Confectionery Industry Association in Japan established the day for sweets and snacks in 1981. The reason this date was chosen is because it is believed that in the old days, the festival for the god of sweets was held on the 15th. The god of sweets is named Tajimamori, who is a legendary figure of the Kofun period.

According to the legend, Emperor Suinin commanded Tajimamori to go and get him a magical fruit called “tokijiku no kagu no konomi”, which has the power of eternal youth and longevity. To this end Tajimamori crossed to the magical land of Tokoyo no kuni (Eternal land), and after ten years he returned with some branches with leaves and some with fruit. However, by this time Emperor Suinin was already dead. Tajimamori gave half of his branches to Suinin’s widow and offered the other half at the deceased emperor’s tomb, then died himself, wailing with sadness.

The fruit Tajimamori brought back is supposed in the records to be a tachibana (a variety of mandarin orange). Tajimamori’s role as god of sweets also originates in this story: the last character in the name of the magical fruit simply meant “fruit” at the time, but now refers to “sweets”.

Nowadays, Tajimamori is enshrined as the god of sweets in Nakashima Shrine in Hyogo Prefecture, and through bunrei (Shinto term meaning a spirit created by dividing another spirit) at various other shrines throughout the nation. He is worshiped primarily by those involved in the confectionery industry.BeFunky-collage (16)

Celebrate Okashi Day with Umaibo and Echigo Koshihikari Beer!

Umaibo which literally means “delicious stick” is a small, puffed, cylindrical corn Japanese snack. It has a consistency is similar to Cheetos. The mascot is a cat, Umaemon, whose name is a pun on that of a popular animated character, Doraemon.

Umaibo is a long-seller snack in Japan loved by both children and adults and there are many flavors of Umaibō available, including savory flavors, such as salad, mentaiko, takoyaki and cheese; and sweet flavors, such as cocoa, caramel, and chocolate. Some flavors were discontinued after a brief period, while others became a staple.

The top three Umaibo flavors ranked by Japanese people are Mentai, Cheese and Corn Potage so we recommend trying these! You will also need a refreshing drink to go with these savory snacks and without any doubt Echigo Koshihikari Beer is the perfect match! It is a light beer that has a crisp and refreshing flavor, and exceptionally soothing and smooth quality. The sweet aroma of rice, and eloquent fragrance of hops, make it the perfect complement to salty snacks.

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Make a Wish on Tanabata with Kizakura Nigori Sake!

What Is Tanabata?

Tanabata, which literally means “evening of the seventh”, also known as the Star Festival, is a Japanese festival originating from the Chinese Qixi Festival. It celebrates the meeting of the deities Orihime and Hikoboshi. The date of Tanabata varies by region of the country, but the first festivities begin on 7 July of the Gregorian calendar.

As the date approaches, long, narrow strips of colorful paper known as tanzaku, vibrant ornaments, and other decorations are hung on bamboo branches. They bring color to  the decor of homes as well as shopping arcades, train stations, and other public spaces. Before hanging tanzaku, people write their wishes on it as it is believed they come true during Tanabata.

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The Legend of Tanabata

The story goes that Hikoboshi, the star of Altair, and Orihime, the star of Vega, are two lovers separated by the Milky Way. Orihime was a skilled weaver, but because she spent most of her time weaving, she had no time to love. Her father, Emperor Tentei, saw how sad she was about this and arranged a marriage for her with Hikoboshi. But now Orihime had no time to weave because of her newfound love, so Tentei forbid the two from seeing each other, except for one day a year if they wished hard enough every other day. Tanabata celebrates the lovers’ reuniting.

The festival gained widespread popularity amongst the general public by the early Edo period, when it became mixed with various Obon or Bon traditions (because Bon was held on 15th of the seventh month then), and developed into the modern Tanabata festival. Popular customs relating to the festival varied by region of the country, but generally, girls wished for better sewing and craftsmanship, and boys wished for better handwriting by writing wishes on strips of paper.

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Tanabata Is the Time to Drink Refreshing and Light Sake!

July is also the season when heat and humidity hits with startling force, so people search for ways to refresh themselves.

One of the popular drinks during Tanabata is natsuzake, and  many sake producers create drinks designed for summer sipping. While styles vary according to the brewery, most versions of it tend to be light, clean and refreshing. Natsuzake is often — but not always — nama (unpasteurized).

A perfect natsuzake would be nigorizake, which is milk-white, unfiltered (or lightly filtered) sake. Fermented rice solids left in this sake create creamy, mouth-filling clouds complementing notes of pear and lychee. We recommend Kizakura Nigorizake which is a fresh light flavoured nigori sake with low alcohol content. It has a mild sweet and sour taste reminiscent of yogurt and best chilled or on the ice.

Make a wish on Tanabata with Kizakura Nigori Sake!

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