If you like Japanese sake (nihonshu), then you know that one of the most exciting times of the year has nearly arrived–kurabiraki season! Kurabiraki is when sake breweries open their doors to visitors and offer free or low-priced tastings of most or all of their sake. Around the end of January to May, each brewery held an event called “Kurabiraki”.
Also, have you noticed this ball hung in front of Japanese brewery? This is called Sugidama or Sakabayashi. It is not only a decoration but also showing the sign that the brewery is ready to serve new brew of sake. The ball stays up until next year’s sake is ready.
The cedar balls are usually hung in February and March, which is the season for new sake, and the cedar balls serve as a sign that "new sake is ready this year". The newly hung cedar balls are still lush, but eventually wither and turn brown. The green color (February to June) is for new sake, the light green (early summer to summer) is for summer sake, and the withered brown (autumn) is for hiyaoroshi.
To celebrate we recommend sake from the brewery in the famous Fushimi sake district in Kyoto. Saito Shuzo, which brews sake brand called Eikun, has set an unbroken record of winning the gold medal for 14 consecutive years at the National New Sake Competition, an annual competition for new sake.
Eikun 70 Junmai is made with the aim to create a during-a-meal sake that does not feel heavy. It has a clear, crisp, and light taste, making it a versatile sake that goes well with a variety of dishes. It is a versatile sake that can be served cold or warmed, showing different qualitites depending of the serving temperature. When served cold, it has a mild dryness and crispness, and when warmed, the rice flavor is enhanced and the taste becomes deeper.
It is great sake for everyday to suit everyone's taste and cuisine!