Share a toast With a brewer – July schedule

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This special event is designed to bring our customers and the breweries that we represent closer together. Every month, on a random basis, we invite representatives from the breweries to come to the bars and share a toast of their sake with everyone. As well as hearing the passion that goes into sake direct from the craftsman/woman, you can also try sakes that have been prepared exclusively for the event. It all adds up to an extremely special event, not the sort that you can experience everyday.

The Allure of Drinking Sake with the Brewer

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“Sake tastes all the more delicious when you drink it knowing who made it and why”.
This is the KURAND concept. To ‘Share a toast with a brewer!’ is to experience sake at the same level, to hear stories that normally don’t get heard outside the four walls of the brewery, and to ask questions. Even your average tasting event does not bring you this close.

For the brewers themselves, this event represents an opportunity to gather feedback about their sake direct from the customer, feedback that leads to quality improvement in the future.

CALENDAR

We have added the above calendar so that you can find out when and where the breweries are going to be, to enable you to plan ahead.

Introducing the Breweries Visiting in July

This where we introduce the breweries who have taken time out of their business trip to Tokyo to pop over to our 4 branches in Ikebukuro, Asakusa Shibuya and Shinjuku and spend time with everyone.

The event calendar shows you when and where the breweries will appear.

Asahitsuru (Chiba Prefecture)

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Asahitsuru is a family brewery in Chiba Prefecture’s Sakura City. The brewing is headed by female master brewer Tanaka Motoko. Situated just an hour from the capital, the brewery runs tours offering the chance to experience a classic brewing atmosphere surrounded by the Yasaka Shrine forests and the rural landscape of the River Kashima. The blessing of the four seasons, rice, and water from a sacred tree gives birth to fragrant beautiful sake that ferments the hearts of the brewer and the surrounding nature. The characteristic of rich dry sake is a sake that is robust with a clean aftertaste. They brew if only but to hear you say that their sake is delicious.

Visit Schedule

Date Branch
22/7 (Fri) Asakusa
23/7 (Sat) Shinjuku

Takizawa Brewery (Saitama Prefecture))

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Established in 1863, originally based in Kogawa Town, Saitama, but later moved to Fukaya City in 1900s to get better access to the location’s water and benefits. From the beginning, the focus has been on quality so they use only the traditional small box koji production method. The inner sanctum of sake brewing, the koji room, is made from Fukaya red brick, the same brick used in Tokyo Station. In a historical building, with a traditional production, in just the last few years, they have received high acclaim: national sake championships gold 4 years in a row, IWC gold medal two years in a row. A strong brewery in Saitama that cares about the future of sake.

Visit Schedule

Date Branch
9/7 (Sat) Ikebukuro
29/7 (Fri) Asakusa

Hasegawa Brewery (Niigata Prefecture)

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Established in 1842, Hasegawa Brewery has carved over 170 years of brewing in Settaya, in Niigata Prefecture’s Nagaoka City. Settaya is a charming town with a popular miso, sake and soy sauce production that dates as far back as the Edo Period, and counts 5 breweries that are registered as tangible cultural properties. As one of the breweries that were built in the Edo and Taisei Periods, they brew the sake by hand, in the traditional way using properly maintained antique tools and small Daiginjo purpose tanks to produce a savoury flavour that extracts the best from the rice. A sake that compliments food and brings the whole table to life.

Visit Schedule

Date Branch
29/7 (Fri) Asakusa

Umeda Brewery (Hiroshima Prefecture)

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Established in 1916, Umeda Brewery is located in Hiroshima City’s Eastern quarter. They brew using special rice for brewing grown in Hiroshima, soft water from an underground river that originates in the mountains behind the brewery and ginjo yeast developed at Hiroshima Prefecture’s research institute. Based on the ethos that sake should be enjoyed by people who are not experts about sake, are not used to sake, their sake is smooth with a gorgeous aroma and mellow flavour.

Visit Schedule

Date Branch
1/7 (Fri) Shinjuku
9/7 (Sat) Shibuya
16/7 (Sat) Asakusa

Takarayama Brewery (Niigata Prefecture)

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Takarayama Brewery is a small brewery that began life in 1885 as regional sake to Iwamuro Onsen,a well-known 300 year old inner parlour in Niigata. In the frozen lands of Echigo, with “harmony among people” as their motto, a team of three including the master cherish every single drop of the brewing process. In a little plot at the back of the brewery the staff grow the variety of sake rice that was developed in Niigata: Echigo Tanrei. From this year, master brewer Watanabe Keita who completed his training in a brewery outside the prefecture joins the team and takes over the reins from 78 year old master Mr. Aoyagi. A new wind is blowing at this brewery.

Visit Schedule

Date Branch
1/7 (Fri) Shibuya
2/7 (Sat) Shinjuku
15/7 (Fri) Asakusa

Ishii Brewery (Saitama Prefecture)

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Ishii Brewery was established in 1840. The brewery was set up at the crossroads of the Onari and Nikko highways, at the time a bustling inn town. The brewery owner Mr. Ishii and master brewer Mr.Wakuta, both in their 20’s, makeup the youngest partnership in the industry. Using their youth as a weapon, in a sake industry often referred to as ailing, they dive into new challenges with a positive attitude, brewing under the motto: “fermentation is people managing microbes with the desire to make drinker’s lives brighter and richer”.

Visit Schedule

Date Branch
8/7 (Fri) Shibuya
22/7 (Fri) Asakusa

Azakura Brewery (Akita Prefecture)

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Established in 1886, boasting 130 years of tradition, Azakura Brewery is located in the snowy town of Yokote in Akita Prefecture, a town famous for its Kamakura (igloos). The symbol of Yokote, Yokote Castle also goes by the pseudonym Azakura Castle. Under the command of Terai Toshio who is a member of the 5th biggest Toji Guild in the country, Akita Prefecture Sannai Toji, a passionate brewing team brew sake using the long low temperature fermentation method (Akita’s version of cold climate brewing). Azakura’ sake is crafted under the concept “sake that translates the passion of the brewer to the drinker”. A sake that transcends time and is infused with soul.

Visit Schedule

Date Branch
9/7 (Sat) Shinjuku

Kazuma Brewery (Ishikawa Prefecture)

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Kazuma Brewery was established in 1869 in the Agricultural Heritage Noto. With a heartfelt desire to brew sake that soothes the soul, build a company (house) that is bright and cheerful, make Noto prosperous, and with a focus on locally sourced water, rice and skills they brew sake that is entwined with the region. At Madrid Fusion 2014, the pinnacle of the culinary event calendar which brings together the finest chefs from all over the world, they were awarded 4th best brewery in Japan. Kazuma Brewery’s spirit is the passion that has been handed down through the generations: the soul of Noto. The main brand Chikuha is a clean dry type sake with woody notes. Visit Schedule

Date Branch
30/7 (Sat) Ikebukuro

Nishiyama Brewery (Hyogo Prefecture)

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Located almost slapbang in the centre of Hyogo Prefecture, in Hyogo Tanba City, an area surrounded by mountains and greenery. The brewery’s home town of Ichijima is an organic, agricultural hamlet that started growing rice organically around 40 years ago. A brewery that prides in supplying sake that is as close to the fresh taste of just-pressed sake as possible. In order to achieve that desire they brew all year around. The origins of the famed kotsuzumi brand can be traced all the way back to earlier generations of brewers, all of whom studied under the famous poet Kyoshi Takahama. One brewer in particular became his right hand man and it is he who received the kotsuzumi verse as a poetic gift from the lauriat, a gift that his descendants protect to this day. A smooth, soft, well-rounded sake.
Visit Schedule

Date Branch
16/6 (Sat) Shibuya

Miyoshikiku Brewery (Tokushima Prefecture)

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Tokushima Prefecture is where the pinnacle of sake rice Yamada Nishiki is grown. The brewery uses mainly this and other varieties of locally grown sake rice to make each and every bottle by hand. Sake with a fruity aroma and unfolding sweetness locked in by a wine-like acidity. The Miyosikiku Trinity continue to breed new sake fans.

Visit Schedule

Date Branch
2/7 (Sat) Asakusa

Tamagawa Brewery (Niigata Prefecture)

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With over 340 years of history, Tamagawa Brewery is located in Uonuma City, Niigata Prefecture. The sake they brew deviates slightly from the more traditional styles. A brewery that is not afraid to challenge.

Visit Schedule

Date Branch
15/7 (Fri) Shibuya

Ozaki Brewery (Aomori Prefecture)

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Ozaki Brewery is located on the Japan Sea side of Japan in Ajigasawa. Also home to the World Heritage site Shiraka Misanchi and the 12 blue lakes with their mysterious blue that charms all who look at them. They make sake that reaps those benefits while coexisting with nature. The signature brands are the ruler of the Japan Sea: the Ando Navy and Morishige Hishaya’s famous painting Kami no za (god’s seat); the painting is so-called because it imagines the gods sitting and drinking sake. With a wholehearted attitude, and a desire to “make delicious sake” they continue to brew honest sake in northernmost part of the Japan Sea side.

Visit Schedule

Date Branch
15/7 (Fri) Asakusa

Sugita Brewery (Tochigi Prefecture)

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Sugita Brewery is located in the southern part of Tochigi Prefecture in the western part of Oyama City. The water in that area which originates at Mt. Nikko is the hardest in the prefecture. The brewery has been brewing sake that puts emphasis on the umami factor ever since the first generation came to Oyama from Niigata. Starting from this year, the 5th generation of the brewery will pass the Nanbu Guild exam to become the first brewer in the family since the first generation. A slow ageing process of between 6 months to a year is the key to the power of the brand Goriki Masamune.

Visit Schedule

Date Branch
1/7 (Sat) Asakusa
8/7 (Fri) Ikebukuro

Shuho Brewery (Yamagata Prefecture)

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Shuho Brewery was started by first generation Seigoro in 1890 in Yamaka Town which lies North East of Yamagata City at the foot of the Zao Renpo mountain range. Shuhou translates to calm. Rich nature, pristine water and a calm soul are the key ingredients of their hand-crafted sake. Tradition and the brewery’s personality and techniques complete a natural production. Over 10 different varieties of sake rice are used, and distinctive characteristics and umami from the rice is used to maximum effect to lend the sake an individuality and make it shine in the regional sake country of Yamagata. The result? warm feeling Yamagata sake that moves the drinker.

Visit Schedule

Date Branch
29/7 (Fri) Shinjuku

Ikezuki Brewery (Shimane Prefecture)

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In the heart of Chugoku, there is a small mountain village that brews sake deep in the mountains. The nearest convenience store is 48 hours away, the nearest station is 3 hours on foot. A place referred to as the most rural part of Shimane Prefecture. Spring water provided by a rich natural environment is used not only to brew the sake, but also to grow the rice, every grain of which is grown locally via contracted farming. The ideals of the young master brewer is sake brewing that can only be achieved in such a beautiful natural place with a young team of brewers who put their heart and soul into the task at hand. A sake that is heartfelt by many people.

Visit Schedule

Date Branch
9/7 (Sat) Asakusa

Tsuchida Brewery (Gunma Prefecture)

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In Kawaba City, northern Gunma Prefecture, a town with a population of 3600 people, Tsuchida Brewery brews their signature brand Homare Kokko which continues to be a firm fan favourite. Established in 1907, they are the only brewery in Kanto to receive an award of honour. As young master brewer Hoshino puts it: “it is the microbes that brew sake, microbes that are sensitive to humans and convey that sensitivity to the drinker. Therefore I want to create sake that links people in a fun way”. With this in mind, he cheerfully and joyfully brews sake. The sake that Mr. Hoshino brews pictures the drinker, brings people together and makes drinking fun.

Visit Schedule

Date Branch
15/7 (Fri) Shinjuku

Ariga Jozo (Fukushima Prefecture)

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Ariga Brewery started in 1772 as a manor house ruling over 33,000 sqm of the Echigo Takada clan enclave and before long was being commissioned by a feudal lord to brew sake. 300 years later, traditional skills passed down and rich arable lands are the key to this brewery’s craft. The signature brand is Arinokawa. Popular products include a dreamy makkori called Tiger Makkori and the brand Jinya which has been brewed by both the 11th and 12th generations and establishes new traditions. A fusion of the latest tech with the traditions of a sibling brewery with a checkered history gives birth to authentic sake.

Visit Schedule

Date Branch
15/7 (Fri) Ikebukuro
30/7 (Sat) Asakusa

Funasaka Brewery (Gifu Prefecture)

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Carving out 200 years of history in Kamisanno Town, Hidatakayama, Gifu Prefecture, the surrounding area of Funasaka Brewery has airs of an old castletown and the surrounding deep mountains of Hida stretch out into the Japanese alps. Using water naturally sourced from this landscape, good quality sake rice and surroundings blessed with a cold climate, they brew with the skills passed down through the generations. The boast of the brewery are the brands Miyamakiku & Jingoro, sakes with a faint hue and rich flavour not to mention a nimble smoothness that is tireless.

Visit Schedule

Date Branch
23/7 (Sat) Shibuya

Takeno Brewery (Kyoto Prefecture)

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Takeno Brewery was established in 1947. master brewer Yukimachi Yoshiki has made a love of sake the driving force behind the brewery. The brewery puts a deal of emphasis on their links with the region, with a view to becoming a locally adored sake. Relationships and networking that extend far beyond just Tango, Kyoto or even Japan but to the whole world. With skills inherited from tradition and the belief that to challenge is to preserve they impart the Tango terroir into their sake. They continue to create new fans all over the world through their sake brewing setting their sights firmly on the future.

Visit Schedule

Date Branch
22/7 (Fri) Shinjuku

Moritami Brewery (Miyagi Prefecture)

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Moritani Brewery is the last small brewery in downtown Sendai. It was established in 1849 on Shimizu Lane where the river Hirose trickles in the background, once said to be an abundant source of clean water. On the opposite side of the brewery’s stone walls, lies a mysterious space completely cut off from the din of the nearby downtown shopping district. The brewery’s Mr. Mori wants to be a brewery that is “loved and cherished and somehow finds a place in people’s hearts along with the old memories of Sendai”. It is because everyone’s preferences are different and there are so many tastes out there that Morinokikukawa might just be for you.

Visit Schedule

Date Branch
29/7 (Fri) Shibuya
30/7 (Sat) Shinjuku

Kanbai Brewery (Saitama Prefecture)

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Established in 1821, Kanbai Brewery is located almost dead centre of the Kanto plains in Kuki which is a good location for both water and rice. The brand name Kanbai comes from the line in a famous Chinese poem: “the bloom of winter just before spring”. The owner of the brewer has now taken over the role of master brewer as well and focuses all his attention on a small production that it is as attentive as possible and leaves nothing to chance. With the ethos “to provide delicious and fun moments” he strives for sake brewing with personality that attacks the task head on with sincerity.

Visit Schedule

Date Branch
1/7 (Fri) Ikebukuro
8/7 (Fri) Shinjuku
22/7 (Fri) Shibuya
23/7 (Sat) Asakusa

Koyama Brewery (Tokyo (Akabane))

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The nearest station to Koyama Brewery is none other than Akabane. In fact the brewery is located just 15 minutes away from the cheap delicious bars that line the station front, on the banks of the river Arakawa surrounded by houses. In September, when sake brewing has begun, the aroma of steaming rice wafts its way out into the nearby streets. That is when the brewery’s neighbours start asking when the new sake will be ready. Not a surprise for the only remaining brewery in Tokyo’s 23 wards. A brewery that tells you that the fact that they are still here is because of the love from the locals is going to keep making sake with gratitude in their hearts.

Visit Schedule

Date Branch
29/7 (Fri) Ikebukuro

July Schedule (in date order)

Visit Schedule

Date Branch Brewery Name (Prefecture)
01/7 (Fri) Ikebukuro Kanbai (Saitama)
01/7 (Fri) Asakusa Sugita (Tochigi)
01/7 (Fri) Shibuya Takarayama (Niigata)
01/7 (Fri) Shinjuku Umeda (Hiroshima)
02/7 (Sat) Asakusa Miyoshikiku (Tokushima)
02/7 (Sat) Shinjuku Takarayama (Niigata)
08/7 (Fri) Shibuya Ishii (Saitama)
08/7 (Fri) Shinjuku Kanbai (Saitama)
08/7 (Fri) Ikebukuro Sugita (Tochigi)
09/7 (Sat) Shinjuku Azakura (Akita)
09/7 (Sat) Asakusa Ikezuki (Shimane)
09/7 (Sat) Ikebukuro Takizawa (Saitama)
09/7 (Sat) Shibuya Umeda (Hiroshima)
15/7 (Fri) Ikebukuro Ariga Jozo (Fukushima)
15/7 (Fri) Asakusa Takarayama & Ozaki (Saitama & Aomori)
15/7 (Sat) Shibuya Tamagawa (Niigata)
15/7 (Sat) Shinjuku Tsuchida (Gunma)
16/7 (Fri) Shibuya Nishiyama Brewery (Hyogo)
16/7 (Fri) Asakusa Umeda Brewery (Hiroshima)
22/7 (Fri) Asakusa Asahitsuru Brewery (Chiba)
22/7 (Fri) Ikebukuro Ishii Brewery (Saitama)
22/7 (Fri) Shibuya Kanbai Brewery (Saitama)
22/7 (Fri) Shinjuku Takeno Brewery (Kyoto)
23/7 (Sat) Shinjuku Asahitsuru (Chiba)
23/7 (Sat) Shibuya Funasaka (Gifu)
23/7 (Fri) Asakusa Kanbai Brewery (Saitama)
29/7 (Fri) Ikebukuro Koyama Brewery (Tokyo)
29/7 (Fri) Shibuya Moritami Brewery (Miyagi)
29/7 (Fri) Shinjuku Shuho Brewery (Yamagata)
29/7 (Fri) Asakusa Takizawa Brewery (Saitama)
30/7 (Sat) Asakusa Ariga Jozo (Fukushima)
30/7 (Sat) Ikebukuro Kazuma Brewery (Ishikawa)
30/7 (Sat) Shinjuku Moritami Brewery (Miyagi)

4 merits of drinking sake in a wineglass

Greetings Sake Lovers,

Have you ever tried sake in a wine glass?
It’s a question that would probably illicit a similar response in Japan, regardless of who you ask: ‘hang on? don’t you mean Ochoko?’, the defacto traditional drinking vessel of choice for sake. But contrary to that natural assumption, sake actually performs just as well in a wine glass as it does in any other type of receptacle. In fact, there are lots of merits to the experience.

We have narrowed them down to 4 of the most rewarding.

A Longer Lasting Nose

Because the wineglass is taller it tends to trap aromas better than the Ochoko, enabling you to savour them for longer. In the Ochoko, subtle aromas in particular often escape before it is possible to appreciate them; this is not a problem in the wine glass. Of course, the sakes of today boast a much richer fresco of aromas to begin with. It’s hard to imagine this drinking style having have ever caught on in the past. If you need proof that sake in a wineglass is a thing, you need look no further than the tasting competitions where this is the sommelier’s weapon of choice. Anything less is to be ill-equipped for the task at hand.

The Reveal

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It’s the same with wine, but each sake’s aesthetic presentation is subtly different: from sakes that are colourless and clear to sakes with faint yellow hues, lemon coloured tints, barley hues, golden hues, amber hues; some sakes have a cloudy or muddy appearance; or in the case of the Doburoku styles, an almost Risotto-like coat of white; there are so many varieties out there to discover. And there is no better magnifying glass with which to discover them than the wine glass. A transparent glass will of course allow you see this best.

A More Pronounced Flavour Experience

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Simply moving your sake out of the Ochoko into a wineglass may unlock a flavour potential that is clear to anyone whether their taste buds are firing on all cylinders or not. A lot of people will happily admit that they had not realised sake was such a sophisticated beverage until they had made this leap. You would be forgiven for wondering whether it was in fact sake that the wine glass was designed for all along.

An Air of Sophistication.

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In a wine glass, it’s got to be chilled sake; the type of sake that cuts an exquisite, cool figure that makes the hand holding the glass appear stylish, fashionable and elegant. It’s the sort of look that makes you stand out at a dinner party and there is no need to shy away from the table, because sake in a wine glass is compatible with not just Japanese food but a variety of cuisine. The wine glass is your accessory for cool.

Types to Try in a Wine Glass?

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Junmai – A portrayal of all the savoury goodness of the rice

Sake is made from rice. Ergo, it only seems natural that there is a sake to show off its qualities. And that folks, is the Junmai. This one has just got to be tried in the wine glass to be believed. Thanks to the sleek aperture of the wine glass, the sake effortlessly glides on to the tongue guiding you into a gentle yet UMAMI rich taste experience.

Daiginjo & Ginjo – It’s All in the Nose!

Drinking these highly fragrant types in a wine glass is like poking your snout into a fruit basket of banana, apple, white peach and pear aromas. Aromas tend to congregate on the inside of the glass, something that is not possible with a smaller more compact type of receptacle. As the sake airs, it will release more of its aromas; try giving the glass a twirl or two to speed up the process.

Namas – A Fresher Brew

Perhaps this one is a no brainer for all you wine buffs out there, but the wine glass delivers a much fresher experience, especially if the sake is in a nama (unpasteurised) state. The effect is like that achieved with white wine. This way of serving gives you a lighter, fresher, all together more youthful sake. Furthermore, Namas that have received a spot of ageing like the ones aged throughout the summer and released in the Autumn produce a better spread when drunk this way.
 

Sparkling – Sake’s Answer to Light Champagne

Sparkling sake made by trapping the natural gases of a second fermentation inside the bottle are very similar in style to light Champagne and equally as delicious in a wine glass. Live yeast cells produce a fresh, relaxed flavour.

When in Rome

Overseas, in the places like England and France, sake is gaining popular among wine buffs who like to drink their sake in a wine glass. It no exagerration to say that the wine glass has made sake much more accessible to these kinds of people. Although it might be a bit of a surprise in Japan, it is normal practice to serve sake in a wine glass at 90% of Western restaurants there. Sake is also being paired with a variety of cuisine, not just Japanese, not just sushi. In Britain, pairings such as curry and sake; steak and sake; roast chicken and sake; even fish and chips and sake have all been tried and tested and proved to be an impressive match.

Yearly “Fine Wine Awards”

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Starting in 2011, Japan now holds its very own awards to assess how well certain sakes perform in a wine glass as opposed to other types of vessel. Every year, the awards receive over 300 entries from 200 breweries across Japan.

This year, our purchaser Mr.Aoto was invited along to the awards to help judge. You can read more about his experience in this past article. 

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An Exclusive Sake Glass from RIEDEL

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Among wine buffs everywhere it needs no introduction — with over 250 years of wine glass making history under its belt, Riedel is the number one wine glass manufacturer in the world and whats more, they have just added an exclusive sake glass to their portfolio. They have joined forces with the brewers themselves to produce this, a sake glass in which sakes (in particular Daiginjo) have a stage to shine. The final design was selected from a selection of over 100 different samples, through a tasting by a panel of brewers and sake experts before receiving some last finishing touches. The oblong bowl shape of the glass lends the sake with a youthful, fruity aroma and relaxing after taste.

The Best News of All!

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KURAND SAKE MARKETAnd the best news of all is that we have just added a wine glass of our own to the diverse selection of glassware you can use at KURAND to sample our 100 different sakes.
 
The whole experience at KURAND just became even more sophisticated!

Sake’s answer to the rising heat of the summer

Greetings Sake Lovers, is that the sound of Cicadas in the trees? It means summer is almost upon us here in Tokyo. And when the mercury starts to rise, chilled sake is the only way to go.

Sake has its own answer to the rising heat of the summer in the form of aged Nama Sakes. Nama is Japanese for unpasteurised. Normally sake is pasteurised twice, once before storage and bottling — to kill all remaining microbes / enzymes and stop the fermentation. Nama is the exception. Summer Namas are unpasteurised sakes that have been aged at low temperatures — in their Nama state — throughout the winter months. It’s a Nama with added seasonal verve.

Chilled sake offers up a fresh, invigorating flavour that is just what you need when the mercury starts to rise. This is our round-up of some of the best options.

Flavour Characteristics

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The characteristics of summer Namas include heaps of refreshing and vibrant flavours and while the aromas have not lost any of their newly brewed freshness to the ageing process, they are altogether much loftier; a trait that makes them very impressive. What you have is a cool summer breeze in a glass, a taste made for summer.

How is it Different from Newly Brewed Sake?

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There is a slight difference between the flavours of newly brewed Namas and summer Namas. That is to say, while newly brewed sake boasts a kind of straight-from-the-press wildness, by the summer, a carefully managed ageing has tempered it, creating an altogether softer, more rounded personality. The result is a better all around taste experience.

A Smorgasboard of Summer Nama Sakes

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Fuller-bodied Types

Just because it’s summer doesn’t mean that all sakes have to be laid back. There are some quite full-bodied options out there too. In particular, full-bodied sake with strong savoury notes and lots of UMAMI. Even if body isn’t your thing, they are worth trying for their more expansive aromas. It combines the delicious essence of the raw ingredients with a faint vintage feel.

Clean / Light Type

At the opposite end of the summer sake spectrum you will find the elegance and fruity charms of a lighter more laid back sake. It’s the crisp finish that makes it so refreshing and such a real favourite when the sun comes out.

Cloudy Sake

The best thing about unpasteurised cloudy sake is the slight buzz it gives on first opening. It’s a fizziness that instantly pops in your mouth and relaxes you. As the gas begins to settle the flavour takes on an increasingly milder edge.

Undiluted Sake

Undiluted sake (in Japanese, Genshu) feels so much more powerful that its counterparts..  As you would expect from sake that hasn’t been watered down (shipped at full strength), the flavours and aromas are much more pronounced. That being said, the flavour of the majority of summer Genshu’s is adjusted slightly to give it a higher food-pairing compatibility.

Bonus:Frozen Sake

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Of course, the only ‘real’ summer sake is this one: frozen sake. Just as the name of this gimmick suggests, it’s basically Nama sake that has been artificially frozen. It comes with the added bonus that in its frozen state, it won’t succumb to the usual pitfalls of nama sake such as drop in quality / flavour, etc.

Here is a video showing how this type of sake is made.

How frozen sake is made

The Recommended Way of Drinking Sake in the Summer

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Well that concludes our little smorgasboard of summer sake options. It leaves us with one final hint to offer you, and that is to chill your sake. Chill until you can chill no more!

Finally, remember, the only downside with Nama sake is that it has to be stored in the fridge.

Luckily at KURAND we have the right facilities to provide Nama sake at its very best.

The summer in Tokyo is mercilessly hot, but why not pop in KURAND and beat the heat in one of our fully air-conditioned bars with Sake’s answer to summer.

Summer sakes now available at all our branches! while stocks last!

From Western to Chinese to Japanese, sake grub 101 – ‘the world is your oyster’

Greetings Sake Lovers,

One recent trend we are seeing at KURAND that we thought was quite cool is home-cooked food in little Tupperware boxes. There is nothing more satisfying than when you find the perfect sake to complement your culinary endeavours.

And so, with that in mind, we decided to put together a very simple 101 guide of delicious sake accompaniments.
Our target this time is the Junmai type, a perfect expression of all the savoury goodness extracted from the rice.

A Quick Recap: What is a Junmai?

You may or may not have already stumbled across this word before. In Japanese it literally translates to ‘pure-rice’ and is the word used to label one of two types of sake. The Junmai type is naturally produced alcohol that is the product of just 3 core ingredients: rice, water and Koji; the other type, Jozoshu is made with the addition of a drop or two of alcohol, usually made from sugar cane. Note: this additon of alcohol is not to make the sake stronger, but to help bring out aroma and make the flavour slightly lighter and easier to palate. In some cases, the purpose of alcohol addition is very close to fortification in the wine world. All sakes in the former category are preceded by this word Junmai in the title. For example, the non-alcohol added type of Ginjo grade sake is called a Junmai Ginjo; the alcohol added type, just Ginjo. Incidentally, on a very basic level (please take this with a pinch of salt), in terms of flavour, nuance, aroma and body, it’s a bit like comparing red and white wine — it’s a question of preference.

Special Designation Sake

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Sake is categorised based on A. whether it is Junmai or Jozoshu and B. the percentage of the rice grain that was used to make it: the lower this percentage the better — in sake, the concept that less is better rings true.

Junmai Rice (no regulations regarding amount of grain used) + Water
Junmai Ginjo Rice (60% or less of rice grain) + water
Junmai Daiginjo Rice (50% or less of rice grain) + Water
Ginjo Rice (60% or less of rice grain) + water
Daiginjo Rice (50% or less of rice grain) + water + added alcohol
Honjozo Rice (normally 70% or less of grain) + Water + Added Alcohol

So without further ado, we bring you our guide to sake that pairs with Junmai type sake!

What Kind of Food Pairs with Junmai Type Sake

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With flavours inherent of older styles of sake, a lot of Junmais tend to be much more full-bodied, richer, have a gentler aroma and in general much more nuanced. But at the same time, it is qualities like the aroma — the gentler aroma, the less it gets in the way of what you pair with it — that lend it the perfect profile for food matching. In fact, there is no need to hold back with the Junmai because it will pair with pretty much whatever you throw at it, even the more elaborately seasoned fayre. The safe option if of course to stick to the more well known sake-staples. When it comes to Western cuisine, dishes that contain or are made with butter or white cream are particularly good options.

A Surprising Fact: With Junmai The World is Your Oyster!

As you can see from the guide below, the surprising fact about this type of sake is how international its compatibilities are.

Japanese

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A Good Match
Sukiyaki
Fied tofu
Fried fish like Mackerel (marinated in miso)
Chikuzenni (chicken stew with veg)
Oden (various ingredients in a broth)
Kinpira gobo (Pickled Burdock root)
Tonkatsu (pork cutlet)

Excellent Match
Yakitori (the sauce type is best)
Chicken Karaage (nuggets)
Age tofu (deep-fried tofu)
Fish (like sea bream) + Teriyaki sauce
Mackerel grilled in salt
Sardines
Simmered fish dishes
Shutou (fish innards)
Simmered dishes with Daikon (raddish) in

Western Cuisine

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Good Match
Pork curry
Potato croquettes
Cream croquettes

Excellent Match
Hamburger
Spaghetti Bolognese
Omelette
Squid fry
Fish cake
Sautéed salmon
Potato salad
Fried chicken

Chinese Cuisine

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A Good Match
Mabo Tofu (minced meat in spicy sauce)
Harusame (rice noodles) salad
Yakisoba (fried noodles dish from Osaka)

Excellent Match
Fried Gyoza
Crab
Chinese dumplings
Chop Suey


And that’s just for starters.
The format at KURAND allows plenty of room for experimentation, so on down and discover a new match made in heaven!

Explaining the process that makes sake clearer : to the press we go!

A Mini Miracle Gone to Press

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Before we can dive into a lecture on pressing sake, it is first necessary to explain why we press sake in the first place. Therefore, our starting point for this article is the Mash or Moromi, the mini-miracle that is the sum of all the other parts of the sake formula: Shubo (yeast starter), Koji, steamed rice and brewing water. At the end of a 20-30 day period of fermentation, what you have is essentially alcoholic rice pudding; a gloop containing lots of solid elements such as rice, leftover yeast, koji, etc — that is, rice pudding with 10 times the viscosity, 100 times the acidity and aroma. The solid part of the mash is called the Lees or Kasu in Japanese. The keypoint is that you don’t yet have the clear liquid that we are all used to drinking. In other words, the main reason for pressing sake is to separate the liquids from the solids.

Under Japan’s liquor laws, the definition of sake, Nihonshu or Seishu (the Japanese terms for the beverage in question) is that which has been through the press. Unpressed sake goes by the name Doburoku and was once a very popular form of home-brew sake. you can read more about it in this article.

3 Common Methods of Pressing Sake

There many different ways to carry out this separation. Here are 3 of the more common ones.

Assakuki

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The modern method of pressing — the one used by most breweries today — involves a machine called an Assakuki (LIT: automatic air compressor). Although there are various makes available, the popular choice among most brewers is the Yabuta brand. The machine resembles a giant accordion made up of rows of slats sandwiched between giant bellows. These slats are actually filters and the bellows are giant air bags. Once the sake has been inserted in between the bellows the machine forces air through at high pressure causing them to inflate, squeezing the liquid part of the sake through the filters. The solids, the lees or Kasu are deposited on these slats like layers of pastry; the liquid flows out through a tap. The most labour intensive part of this method of pressing is assembling the slats, scraping off the lees at the end and general upkeep of the machine. Because of its ease of use, speed which prevents oxidation and efficiency it is generally prefered over older methods.

Unlike the other methods of pressing, the devices structure is such that very little of the process is visible from the outside.

The aggressive nature of this method makes it unsuitable for pressing more intricately flavoured sakes like Daiginjo.

Funashibori (bag method)

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Special 50x50cm cloth filter bags are filled with sake. These so-called ‘sake bukuro or sake bags’ are specially made for the purpose. The bags are then placed into a long, narrow, trough called a Fune (LIT: boat, in Japanese because it resembles the bottom of one). A vice is then applied from above. The pressure levels can be adjusted by inserting planks of wood under the vice. In general, it is a much more gentle method of pressing and although it is much more labour intensive it produces less off flavours.

Great care has to be taken when positioning the bags so that sake does not seep out. Brewers make it look deceptively easy. Because of the elongated shape of the Fune, it often results in a battle to stop the sake from oxidising. Each brewery comes up with different devices to stop this from happening. In short, greater skills are required to pull of this method of pressing, so in most breweries, the Fune is nothing but an antique cutting a dejected figure in a corner somewhere, gathering dust.

Fukuro Shibori (Hanging)

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Also known as the drip drip method or Shizuku Shibori in Japanese, this method of pressing is one of the oldest in existence. It is similar to the Funashibori in that the sake is poured into filter bags. The difference is that instead of putting the bags into a trough, they are hung-up inside the tank itself. The liquid collects at the botttom of the tank. In other words, the brewers simply let gravity do the work for them.

The natural, unforced style of this method produces a much cleaner sake with devoid of off-flavours, something much closer to the way delicious sake should taste. If you ever get a chance to try this type of sake, don’t pass it up.

The downside of this method is the small volume of sake that it produces. Sake made this way normally takes the form of specially limited edition products sold in very small quantities.

Conclusion

Below we have put together a quick summary of each method of pressing and a breakdown of the traits of each.

Assakuki (Yabuta) General method of pressing. It takes the form of an accordion-shaped machine. It uses air pressure to force the sake through filters. The merit of this method is that is does a thorough job. However, the aggressive nature is really only suited for the less premium type sakes.
Funashibori The traditional way of pressing sake. Sake is poured into special cloth filter bags and laid out in a long trough, normally made of wood. This method produces less off flavours, but is much more labour intensive and time-consuming. Brewers using this method face a battle to stop the sake from oxidising.
Fukuro Shibori
(Shizuku Shibori / Drip drip method)
The sake flows out naturally. It produces less off flavours and a clearer sake. The drawback is the limited volume.

Here at KURAND, you will find a range of different sakes, some of which have been made using the older methods of pressing. Why not come and expand your knowledge of sake.

 

Come to KURAND and I will tell you a story!

Greetings sake lovers,

British KURAND staff member, Chris here!

This is officially my 100th article writing / translating for KURAND and yet it just occurred to me that I have never actually formally introduced myself. Well, they do say it is never too late to for an introduction, so here goes.

Basically, I am the editor, translator / writer behind the English language KURAND website. I am a Japanese speaking ‘BRIT’ that was put in charge of developing a none Japanese speaking fan base for KURAND from all the extra inbound business that Tokyo is expected to receive between now and the 2020 olympics, and beyond.

Story so Far

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Allow me to start by recapping my journey so far in a few short paragraphs.

My first introduction to premium sake came in 2006, in my first real job after graduating from university, working for the largest Japanese food and drink supplier in London. Up until that fated encounter, I had never tasted anything better than the poison that you find at most Chinese restaurants: more often than not Chinese spirits audaciously disguised as sake. For most people the first sip of sake in their home country will have left a similarly bitter aftertaste in their mouth — so in short, the idea of having to sell sake was not something that filled me with trepidation at first, but I was won over…by the expertly told narrative of the brewer who one day came to woo me at my company. And woo me he did.

I was already hooked by the time he had finished his little presentation, but it was his sake that sealed the deal. It was a Tokubetsu Junmai with a rounded palate of tropical fruits followed by a crisp finish, a taste I will never forget. As it melted in my mouth I knew at that moment that I had discovered something very special.

A few years later, as a result of investing my time personally into learning more about the beverage, I landed myself the experimental role of sake specialist. This job involved many perks, the biggest of which was being able to escort brewers around London to sell their wares to new prospective buyers. Conversations during commutes would be filled with priceless nuggets of sake information, information that was coming straight from the expert’s mouth. I remember one commute in particular where the train got stuck in a tunnel and the brewer I was with gifted me with a lecture on the traditional Kimoto process to pass the time. But inevitably, in 2014, I realised that I had reached the limit to how much I could learn working in the U.K. and departed to Japan to level up.

My time in Japan so far has been nothing short of an adventure — of a life time no less.
I have spent a year working for the prestigious Junmai Daiginjo-only brewery up in Yamagata Prefecture, as their Tokyo sales rep which included a few days of hands-on training inside the brewery itself. I have worked for a specialist sake shop in Tokyo. I have even thrown in a stint at a cool little Izakaya serving regional sake from all over Japan, a very precious memory that fills me with a tinge of nostalgia even as I write this now.

KURAND and I, A Mutual Ideology

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And then in 2015, the next chapter of my own personal story / journey began at KURAND.
I love what they are trying to do here. Their concept and ethos is right in line with my ideology about sake. In short, they want to tell the story, the narrative, of the people who make it; the same narrative that captured my heart all those years ago. You see, it’s a narrative with many strands. There is something in there for everyone, whether its history, culture, tradition or even wine-based similarities that interest you. It’s 1000 years of history, culture and tradition, it’s interesting personalities and their passion.

It’s precisely this kind of narrative that I focused on promoting when I was working in London. Generally speaking, sake is not exactly the most accessible artisan craft to dive straight into. For starters there is a wall of complicated jargon and tech-speak to climb that can’t be scaled until you have passed the obvious language barrier: most sakes are not translated into English, so going to a shop and trying to buy a bottle is like trying to navigate your way through an Egyptian tomb with zero knowledge of hieroglyphics. In this situation, with no other reference points to work off of, The narrative is your guide.. your only guide.

The first thing I did when I became sake specialist was to put this narrative on the bottles in the form of English labels. You might be surprised to learn that English labels on sake bottles still do not come as standard in most countries.

 

As one couple who attended one of my recent lessons quite eloquently put it: “KURAND is very well presented with non-Japanese speakers sufficiently catered for; you can more than enjoy a many different sakes. However, having a native guide to walk you through it all opens a whole new set of doors to sake that I never even knew existed. I never realised sake could be this interesting”. And that folks is the power of the narrative. For a great example of a sake narrative, please see this article: http://kurand.jp/en/5595/

Learn More

So how are we going about telling this narrative at KURAND?

Here at KURAND, we are currently delivering this narrative in two different formats.

SAKE EXCHANGE TOKYO

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Please join our MEETUP group!
Our Sake Exchange Tokyo events give a slightly more informal setting to learn about sake while mixing with people from all over the world. As well as the usual all-you-can-taste sake experience of over 100 types, each event is designed around a particular theme, one particular aspect of sake. Some of the topics we have already covered include rice variety, yeast, seasonal sake, water and even the labels on the bottles. For those people who can speak a bit of the local lingo, there is an opportunity to practice your language skills.Think: international exchange party with sake and you have it down to a tee.

LESSONS

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What is a Toji? Why is sake brewed in the winter months? Why is sake pasteurised? What is the difference between sweet and dry sake?

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As well as answering all these questions and more in detail and unravelling the mysteries behind sake, this is basically a one on one sake A-Z-to-sake that includes a series of flights of carefully chosen sakes to go with each individual topic. Although we refer to them as lessons, I would prefer to use the word experience — and again the narrative is the core of the syllabus.

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The lessons also include a practical aspect. Have you ever wanted to drink warm sake the professional way? learn how to warm sake? how to correctly pour sake from a 1.8L bottle? we have you covered.

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The lesson also looks at how the flavour of sake changes in different shape glassware.

So what are you waiting for! your journey to Japan isn’t complete without an introduction to sake on the itinerary.

Our customers so far include Michelin Star chefs from the US, fellow sake experts, writers, TV celebrities and even Youtubers!!

Customer Testimonials

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“I have taken part in many tours / experiences during my time travelling the globe, but this was the best yet!”

“Chris gave us a detailed and interesting walk thru on the history and process of sake tasting. 100 types of sake… All you can drink….what else could one ask for 🙂 “

“Chris (native Brit) is extremely knowledgeable and friendly. There is also a written presentation which helped a lot. (Before attending all I knew about sake was that it was made from rice.) “

“Chris was so friendly and helpful in answering all of our many questions. A local brewer even came in and we sampled some of his different types. They have a light tasting menu of snacks or you can bring outside food in as well. For anyone in Japan interested in learning about sake, expanding your knowledge, or just want a different bar scene, this is a must try. I only wish we stumbled upon this at the start of our trip so we could go again. “

“Chris is so friendly and knowledgable on sakes, taught us a lot great place to experience and explore more on sakes & Japan Culture! “

Also, see this excellent article that was written by Melinda Joe for the Japan Times: Here

Nothing would give me more pleasure that to share some of my passion for sake with you.

Come to KURAND and I will tell you the story.

Why not make this your ‘first encounter’ at KURAND

Produced together with the brand Fukunishiki in Hyogo Prefecture, this is our new entry-level KURAND original product. It is available at all our branches.

What is “Te-Hajime”?

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Te-Hajime is intended to provide that first encounter with sake.

With a lower alcohol content and an eloquently sweet palate of citrus fruits, it is closer to the definition of a rice wine than any product that come has come before it. The key point is that from entrance to finish the flavour is very beginner- friendly.

The colourful label on the bottle is an artist’s impression of the the buzz that you will feel when you drink it for the first time. We hope that this will provide an opportunity to discover sake for those people who don’t normally find it very accessible.

Te-Hajime pairs really well with dishes that include tomato as their ingredient like Ratatouille. It is all pairs quite well spicier dishes.

While already quite cool and relaxed, when served at around 5 degrees (in Japanese this serving is called Yuki Hie [lit: snow chill]) it takes on even more exhilerating flavour. This sake is definitely meant to be served in a wine glass.

Product Specs

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Type Junmai
Raw Ingredients Rice、Koji
Rice Variety Kinu Hikari
Rice Polishing 70%
Alcohol % 8.0%
SMV -61.0
Acidity 5.8
Amino Acidity 0.5

About Fukunishiki

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Established in 1839, Fukunishiki Brewery is located slap bang in the centre of the Banshu Plains, the number one grower of sake rice in Japan. They might be small but they brew sake with belief. In 1992 they switched to Junmai-only sake and since 1996, brew with only rice grown in their local Kasai City. There lies a passion for pure honest sake brewing that “is what it is because it is loved by the region”. Using the umami from the rice to full effect to give it a slightly golden hue and melt in the mouth acidity. The flavour that resounds in your heart half way through is evidence of the mutual love for rice.


Why not make this your first encounter with sake at KURAND.

The tale of the cat that one day wandered into the brewery — and the brewery that adopted it!

Written by Shimachiro (Member of the KURAND team)

Greetings Sake Lovers,

Here at KURAND, one of the main goals behind our all-you-can-taste bars is to give boutique breweries from all over Japan a stage to promote their products. At present, there are just shy of 1400-1500 breweries; a number of which are waiting to be discovered.
But in such a brand obsessed industry as this one how do we showcase the magic of these little breweries? That is where we [KURAND] got scratching our heads and came up with the solution which was to focus on the narrative that enables small breweries like these to more than hold their own. We strongly believe that in the case of artisan beverages like sake that are steeped in history, culture and tradition it is the narrative that drives the thirst for them; it is also adds to their flavour.
And so, without further ado, I would like to tell you one of those narratives, from one of the breweries that we showcase at KURAND.

The first I would like to introduce you to is Takarayama Shuzo from Niigata Prefecture. Incidentally, the name uses identical Chinese characters to the famous Shochu brand Houzan (there are two readings for the Chinese characters which differs depending on their compound structure), so native Japanese tend to get it mixed up with that. Why not tax some of your Japanese friends with this one for a bit of harmless fun (laughs).

 

One of Niigata’s Boutique Breweries Begins to Think Big

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Takarayama Shuzo is a small brewery that began life in 1885 as regional sake to Iwamuro Onsen,a well-known 300 year old inner parlour in Niigata.

They might be a small brewery, but that hasn’t stopped them diving into the inbound tourism market and entertaining a whole host of visitors from all over the world.

5th Generation Watanabe Keita went from graduating university straight into the world of brewing into 3 year training in a brewery in Gunma prefecture. In 2015, he returned to his hometown.

No sooner had he arrived, he eagerly took over the reigns from his father and got straight down to work to create sake that had its sights set on a very wide audience.

A small brewery had begun to think big.

The Partnership that Began with one Straight Answer

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The desire to “brew sake that would reach a global audience” is what drove him forward. The first partner he enlisted on this quest was none other than his university chum Mr.Wakamatsu.

It all started the first time they went drinking and they ended up seated next to one another. Somewhere among the convivial imbibing Mr.Watanabe had casually popped the proposal: “Why don’t we make sake together?” To which, without a moment of hesitation, Mr.Wakamatsu had replied: “sure!”.

They had only just met, but from the minute Mr.Watanabe became acquainted with Mr.Wakamatsu he knew that he had met the perfect partner in crime for brewing. And the way Mr.Wakamatsu tells it: the feeling was mutual; hence the confident response. One very straight answer is all it had taken; it was a fated outcome.

Two People Set out to Write a New Narrative

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And so, in 2015, fresh from completing his 3 year training in Gunma Prefecture Mr. Watanabe made good on his end of the bargain and welcomed Mr. Wakamatsu who by this time had amassed experience working in a specialist Izakaya (Japanese pub) into his family’s Brewery.

The arrangement was simple: Mr.Wakamatsu would sell the sake that Mr.Watanabe had brewed. And so, with the desire to conquer the world with their sake, the two of them set out to write a new narrative together.

“Meeta the cat”: Guardian of the Brewery or Just a Mascot?

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Takarayama Shuzo has its very own mascot in the form of a cat. It’s name is Meeta. It’s a stray that one day wandered into the brewery. They started to feed it and before they knew it, the cat had made the brewery its home. 7-8 years have passed since it first arrived but it has grown into a very popular figure at the brewery that people from all over come to say hi!
During the busy brewing season, he acts as accidental therapist to a weary workforce, so the brewers have completely accepted him and just look upon him as another member of the team.

Although he enjoys being outdoors, he spends a lot of time in the brewery as well so you might be able to meet him if you come to visit.
You might have already guessed but Mr.Watanabe is a huge cat lover. This accidental partnership of young brewer and his cat makes this a brewery to watch.

The Announcement of a New Brand: Sake Brewing cat & Sake Selling Dog

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It as at this point that I am proud to announce that we KURAND have teamed up with Takarayama Shuzo to produce a new sake and a new brand. It is called Sake Brewing Cat / Sake Selling Dog. The sake is a Junmai Ginjo Nama Genshu made with Gohyaku Mangoku rice.

The cat and dog on the label are an animal representation of Takarayama Shuzo’s partnership: Mr. Watanabe is a lover of cats; Mr. Wakamatsu has a very canine-like sociable personality.

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So what does this new sake taste like? Well, it’s an unpasteurised sake with a flavour that remains on the tongue long after you have finished it — all polished off with a twinge of nostalgia. A perfect accompaniment to the summer weather.
I hope to bring you another sake narrative very soon……
For more narratives like this, simply visit one of our bars… and let your sake story unfold!

Sake as an embodiment of its creator – Rika: a new female toji in the making

Hi there! the night-wandering-bar-hopper Shimachiro here!

If I may be so bold, I would like to introduce a cool sake which I stumbled across the other day while trying out KURAND’s new ONE COIN plan at the Asakusa Branch.

Rika Junmai Ginjo Muroka Nama Genshu (Limited to KURAND)

A KURAND limited edition product, this sake is available as part of a tasting set that exhibits the subtle differences between unpasteurised and pasteurised sakes (more details here). It was brewed by Ichinomiya Shuzo, in Shimane Prefecture — by a female brewer that has set her sights on the dizzying heights of the role of Toji (master brewer). Her name is Rika and she is the second of 3 daughters in the family. This is her very own sake. It is made solely with Shimane Prefecture’s illusive sake rice Kairyo Hattanshiki (an improved version of the famous Hattan Shiki) — an incredibly difficult rice to grow by all accounts.

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Of course, a young female brewer’s first attempt at designing her own sake is always an exciting proposition.

Just how much love can you pack into one bottle! were the words that made it a proposition I just couldn’t resist. Putting your own name on a product… this Rika has guts. Apparently, female brewers are making waves at the moment; there was even a special TV programme dedicated to the subject.

The young brewers sure are the ones to watch

Contrary to what the name might suggest, this is a feisty sake with backbone.

Without further ado I ploughed into the tasting.
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Its a well-defined fruity type…

But without the verbose, it has excellent balance and is refreshingly easy to palate. It’s a dry type with a crisp finish, but one that spreads out nicely with all kinds of uniquely sweet flavours in the mouth. Is that the flavour of the rice at play? or could it be Rika’s affection at work.

At this risk of sounding patronising, I have to say that while a name like RIKA — a very popular name for young girls in Japan — conjures up all kinds of cutesy connotations — this sake betrays that image with a feisty palate and backbone. I wonder, is sake really just an embodiment of the craftsperson’s inner soul. (it is more likely the fact that it is a Muroka Nama Genshu type more than anything…).

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For the food pairing I ordered “Grated Nameko”; the grated crisp Daikon in this dish was a match made in heaven. Incidentally, Nameko is a great Izakaya staple. It’s delish!

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The back label tells the story of this sake: “I am really just still fumbling around in the dark, but I have made my first step” — Such poignant words! Go Rika!

Total Bill for this Tasting Experience

Rika Junmai Ginjo Muroka Nama Genshu: 500 Yen
Grated Nameko: 200 Yen
Total: 700 Yen
The future of sake just received a boost of girl power!

Which prefectures consume the most sake? We put together a ranking of the top 10

As you may know already, KURAND SAKE MARKET’s sake lineup — while just a small sample of the 1500 or so breweries in existence — covers a range of different prefectures — but just which prefecture lays claim to the most sake lovers?  To answer this question, we decided to put together another little top 10 ranking, this time of the prefectures boasting the highest sake consumption in Japan*.

* The data in brackets is the total sake consumption per head — extracted from the total alcohol consumption per head — and is based on figures in the March 2015 National Tax Office Report Sake no Shiori.

1. Niigata Prefecture (12.4L)

niigataSource:wikipedia

It will probably come as little surprise to learn that the top dog in our ranking is none other than Niigata Prefecture. With its terroirs —abundant with excellent rice and water—it is quite simply a place where sake forms part of the landscape. This result simply affirms that the sake produced here — the so-called land of clean-tasting (Tanrei) sake —  is popular not only throughout the nation, but cherished inside the region itself.

2. Akita Prefecture (9.3L)

akitaSource:wikipedia

At No.2, it’s Akita Prefecture. Just like the prefecture ranked above it, this is another region that is famous for its rice. Additionally, Akita Prefecture is a top consumer not just of Nihonshu but alcohol in general, ranking in among the top 5 prefectures in Japan — a region full of alcohol lovers so to speak.

In 3rd, 4th and 5th place it’s a Dead Heat Between 3 Prefectures!

3,4,5: Yamagata Prefecture (8.0L)

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Yamagata Prefecture is famous for churning out some of the most popular brands in Japan.  Futhermore, it prides itself on brewing that focuses on locally grown raw ingredients: from the rice and water — to the yeast and everything in between — sake that puts the region on the map.

3,4,5: Fukushima Prefecture (8.0L)

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Fukushima Prefecture puts a tremendous amount of effort into research and development of brewing techniques and unique varieties of sake rice etc. The number of events being actively held and wide range of opportunities offering you the chance to sample this prefecture’s sake must surely be part of the reason for its high place in this ranking.

3,4,5: Toyama Prefecture (8.0L)

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We are proud to include a sake from this prefecture in the KURAND line-up: DESPERADO with its cute playing card label and delicious flavour that is the envy of all its rivals; a very popular sake it is too.  Just like its neighbour Niigata Prefecture, Toyama Prefecture is another place in the Hokuriku Region blessed with ideal conditions for making sake, making it a favourite among lovers of regional sake and no doubt a regular in these kinds of rankings.

At No.6 & 7, it’s another dead heat, this time between 2 prefectures.

6 & 7:Ishikawa Prefecture (7.9L)

ishikawaSource:wikipedia

Just like its neighbour Toyama Prefecture, Ishikawa Prefecture also looks out over the Sea of Japan and is located in the Chubu region. Home to the ‘Noto Peninsula’ which is the first National Heritage recognised land mass in Japan, it is an area nurtured from its natural surroundings and steeped in sake brewing. The prefecture is home to a whole host of breweries — many of which represent Japan itself — including Kazuma Shuzo who brew the KAZMA brand; another one we are proud to represent.

6 & 7:Nagano Prefecture (7.9L)

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The landlocked Nagano Prefecture is a land crisscrossed by mountain ranges such as the Hida, Kiyama and Akaishi Mountain ranges providing the source of beautiful water that after many years and months emerges as springs to form the secret ingredient of sake brewing that is characteristic of the region.

8. Shimane Prefecture (7.5L)

shimaneSource:wikipedia

In at No.8, it’s Shimane Prefecture. A land endowed with the brewing skills of old,  it’s also a land with a long history in brewing. A tale from the province’s ancient scripture “Izumo Fudoki” depicting the slaying of the serpent “Yamata no Orochi” using sake suggests that events here played a big role in the origins of the beverage. The prefecture’s horizontal West to East topography gives birth to all manner of different idiosyncratic brews.

9. Fukui Prefecture (7.4L)

fukui出典:wikipedia

What the ! who expected that all Japan Sea facing prefectures from the Chubu region would make it into the Top 10!? The last number in this class ensemble is Fukui Prefecture, a land that as well as prospering from sake brewing also lists a unique strain of yeast “Fukui Urara” among its research and development accomplishments; a land brewing sake that emanates the passion of the local people who brew it.

10. Tottori Prefecture (7.3L)

tottoriSource:wikipedia

And finally, at No.10, it is Tottori Prefecture, the only prefecture in Japan with a self-proclaimed desert (it is actually a 30km stretch of sand dunes but hey) in Japan. It’s here that they grow the sake rice called Tama Sakari. The brewing here exploits the Umami from the rice in a deep yet subdued way to produce sake that reveals a wider variety of flavours the more you drink it. This prefecture’s high consumption of alcohol is no doubt linked to its location which gives it access to all manner of delicious seafood, the perfect ingredients for delectable sake side dishes.


And that wraps up another Top 10 ranking. Once again, while a large part of our ranking may have been what you expected, there will no doubt have been some surprises too. If you are living in Japan and your prefecture didn’t get a mention, not to worry, you can always change that during your time in Japan… hint.

Why not come to KURAND and go on a journey of exploration through our fridge and discover the gems that are dotted all over Japan.

Who knows, you might just discover the next Niigata Prefecture hiding in the wings.