Today we left Enraku and were heading for Kanazawa, which meant we had an opportunity en route to stop and check out some saké breweries. A few years ago we had such a great time doing the rounds of some nine saké breweries near Nara (south of Osaka) and found some favourites that we are able to get back home so we thought we’d try that again. First stop was going to be the Masuda Sake Brewery – most famous for the Masuizumi their
The pics that show up when you search a place are often quite handy so you know what you are looking for…Anyway, you’d think this wouldn’t be too difficult a task… look up the brewery, find an address, type it into Google maps (and the car’s archaic GPS unit for good measure) and off you go! Oh if wishing made it so! We found the general area okay thanks to the aforementioned navigational devices, and then seemed to be stumbling around a bit lost until I saw this door – and remembered seeing it on the images that popped up on Google Maps. Awesome – we are in the right place. So I asked a guy who obviously worked there, who happened to be passing by, and he directed me slightly down the road to a doorway….￼
Which I duly entered – only to discover it was-someone’s private residence and I was fucking trespassing!!! Jesus titty fucking Christ! The guy was gesturing at this doorway but was trying to tell me to go around the corner and and down the next block?! Between Mr K and his moving violation and me now accidentally trespassing – we won’t be allowed back in Japan! On the corner of the next block – totally not visible at all from where the ‘helpful’ worker was pointing was one of the buildings that I saw on the Google Map.
I spied the sugidama and thought this must be the right spot, I should have been keeping an eye out for it earlier… but even if I had, it wouldn’t have helped. This
building is the brewery’s administration building and their tasting room is a further 500m down the road! Thanks Google Maps… sigh. Could you screw the pooch any harder on this one?
Speaking of roadside rest stops – I saw this in the ladies restroom… a urinal for small boys who might be accompanying their mothers to the bathroom:
I mean, seriously?! You can just tell someone (who takes pride in their work as a bathroom attendant!) is carefully swapping out the display for each season as well… it’s lovely, I appreciated their efforts… at home, we’re happy if there isn’t pee on the floors at roadside servos.
Next brewery for the day was the Fukumitsuya Saké Brewery. This places was founded in 1625 and they are a 14th generation family brewery. Super impressive history; though I do wonder at family businesses like this – how much pressure is there for someone to take on the family business? Whether they want to or not.
Traditionally saké has always been consumed fresh – it wasn’t aged or cellared and was believed not to ‘cellar well’. Hence the sugaidamas to they’ll the town that there was a fresh batch of saké ready for purchase. The Fukumisuya brewery was the first saké brewery in Japan to start cellaring and selling aged sakés. A practice they started back in the late 50s/early 60s after the 12th owner of the brewery spent some time in Europe and came home to start experimenting with aging saké in both room temperature and in cold cellars. Even then, they seem to only age the saké for about three years – or 1000 days (probably because it sounds neat for the marketing!).
Here, I met a lovely woman who had been living in the US for a number of years and her English was exceptional. We had an in-depth discussion about the various types of saké, and she led me through some tastings. She gave me a pile of information on different varieties and practices that various different breweries were engaging in. Turns out, that without even realising it – I have developed a taste for ‘purest saké’ (because of course I have… champagne tastes on a beer budget my entire life!). Meaning that the sakés I have found I enjoyed the most are the ones with the least amount of additives. Anything with ‘junmai’ on the label is pure saké, made only with rice, natural waters and koji (koji being a fermentation culture). Which totally explains (for me, at least) why I dislike some saké because it’s too sweet, (likely has sugar added), or to strong in it’s alcohol taste, (likely has grain alcohol added).
Their website has an excellent link to the saké brewing process.
After this we head off to find our machiya where we will be based for the next few days.
This mural is called a Fusama painting and it was apparently created by Kahoolawe Ueshima, who is a well known local arts who works in the ParalymArt collective – I have no idea what that is, but it appears to be a significant art community according to our host.
The view from upstairs down into the living space.
Lovely tatami bedroom – I love the smell of the tatami mats.We have a cute, private little garden space; I love the rain chains and have often wondered if they would look out of place in suburban Brisbane. lol
Keeping it old school… complete with emergency contact numbers list… it probably needs instructions for Gen Z on how to dial it. 😛 Now to sit down to do some serious work, which of course requires – saké!!! Kanpai.