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Posts tagged “sake

DAY 5 (3/5): SAKE (日本酒) BREWERIES, Hida-Takayama (飛騨高山), Gifu Prefecture (岐阜県), Japan, 2018.05.29

Sake (日本酒), or Japanese rice wine, is a light coloured, sweet taste alcohol made of multiple parallel fermentation of rice.  The earliest record of sake drinking in Japan dated back to the 3rd century.  Nowadays, it has become a popular alcoholic beverage around the world along with the growing popularity of sushi and ramen.  Outside of Japan, sake is just an option of alcoholic beverage.  However, within Japan, sake is a living tradition, a national heritage that connects to the local landscape and climate, and a representation of purity and simplicity in the Japanese culture.  In the old days, sake was drunk at Shinto festivals, ceremonies and offerings to the gods, and production was made mainly by temples and the imperial court.  Then in the 12th century, the general public began to make sake and led to the flourishing scene of sake makers in certain regions in Japan.  Not much has changed in the  making process since the 16th century.

With its cold climate, pristine water from the Japanese Alps and local rice “Hida-Homare”, Takayama is known as one of the best places for sake production in Japan.   In its heyday during the Edo Period, Takayama had 56 sake breweries.  Today, there are a handful of the traditional breweries (some say six) remain in the splendid old town of the city.  Most of them would offer sake tasting and even a facility visit.  Just look for the sugitama (杉玉) hanging outside of the liquor shop entrance.  If the sugitama is still green, that means the making of the new sake is underway.  If it is brown, then the new sake has reached maturity.  Visiting the traditional breweries and doing rounds of sake tasting is one of the most interesting ways to explore Takayama.

DSC_7063With its signature brand Sansha (山車) famed for its muscular umami (うま味) or savory taste, Harada Sake Brewery (原田酒造場) is a highly popular sake brewery in the old town.  The brown sugitama (杉玉) indicates that the new sake has reached maturity.

DSC_7062Apart from its shop, visitors may also find the aging tanks in Harada Sake Brewery.

DSC_7065Across the street from Harada stands another popular brewery, the Funasaka Sake Brewery (舩坂酒造店).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWith over 300 years of history, Funasaka Sake Brewery has combined generations of experience, innovative technical developments and a new business model.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe complex of Funasaka Sake Brewery includes a shop, bar, restaurant, and a pleasant courtyard.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn the courtyard, large sake barrels are on display at the Funasaka Sake Brewery.

DSC_7082Also with 300 years of history, the Oita Sake Brewery (老田酒造店) has transformed its original brewery at the busy tourist street Kami-Sannomachi (上三之町) into a large shop and bar, while the main brewery has moved outside of the city to Kiyomi, where new technologies and computers are introduced in the sake making.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOita Sake Brewery specializes in very dry sake and shochu (焼酎) or distilled liquor.   Dry sake was considered unfavorable as compared to sweet sake in the old days.  However, the trend has gradually changed and dry sake has become popular with soba and steak restaurants.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJust like most other breweries, the store of Oita Sake Brewery designated an area of the store for a causal bar.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASake and shochu are used at the bar to make cocktails with fruity favours.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAShōki (鍾馗) or Zhong Kui in Chinese is known in Chinese mythology as the king of ghosts and evil beings. It is commonly seen as a guardian spirit to ward off demons.  The icon is also popular in traditional Japan.  Due to its unpopularity in the old days, dry sake was called “Oni Koroshi” or demon killer, meaning that even demons would die after drinking the dry sake.  Oita Sake Brewery (老田酒造店) considers itself the original brand of the “Oni Koroshi” dated over 300 years ago.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEstablished since 1695, Niki Sake Brewery (二木酒造) is another old sake maker in Takayama that has been in business for 15 generations.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANiki Sake Brewery is famous for its ginjo sake, a premium category of sake that uses rice grains polished to less than 60% of its original size, and fermented in lower temperature in longer period.  Ginjo sake is considered to be lighter in taste and more aromatic.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAKawashiri Sake Brewery (川尻酒造場) has been in the industry of sake brewery since 1839.  It specializes in jukusei koshu or “aging sake” that uses locally grown rice “hidahomare” and takes two to four years to age.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAKawashiri Sake Brewery (川尻酒造場)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe traditional look of Kawashiri Sake Brewery gives visitors a glimpse of the old Takayama in the Edo Period.  Large timber post and beam construction is a Takayama tradition.

DSC_7206Being the smallest brewery in town, Kawashiri rejects new technologies and computers, and relies on the hands of its four brewery employees to produce high quality sake at an affordable price.

DSC_7202Each year, six of Takayama’s sake breweries will open their doors to offer brewery tours.  Kawashiri Sake Brewery is one of the participating sake makers.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFor 500 yen visitors can get a taste for three of Kawashiri’s sake.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOf course, we couldn’t resist to sit down for a sip of the sake in an interior full of heritage of the magnificent Takayama, the centuries old city in the Japanese Alps.

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CHUBU (中部地方) 2018, Japan, 2018.05.25 – 06.03
Introduction

Day 1: Tokyo (東京)
1.1 TSUKIJI OUTER MARKET (築地場外市場)
1.2 TSUKIJI INNER MARKET (築地中央卸売市場)
1.3 MORI ART MUSEUM (森美術館), 21_21 DESIGN SIGHT & CAFE KITSUNE

Day 2: Matsumoto (松本)& Kamikochi (上高地)
2.1 MATSUMOTO CASTLE (松本城), Matsumoto (松本)
2.2 “ALL ABOUT MY LOVE”, Yayoi Kusama’s Exhibition at Matsumoto City Museum of Art (松本市美術館), Matsumoto (松本)
2.3 MATSUMOTO PERFORMING ARTS CENTER (まつもと市民芸術館), Matsumoto (松本)
2.4 FROM MATSUMOTO (松本) TO KAMIKOCHI (上高地)
2.5 ARRIVAL IN KAMIKOCHI (上高地), Chūbu-Sangaku National Park (中部山岳国立公園)

Day 3: Kamikochi (上高地)
3.1 MORNING WALK IN KAMIKOCHI (上高地), Nagano Prefecture (長野県)
3.2 DAKESAWA HIKE (岳沢), Kamikochi (上高地)

Day 4: Kamikochi (上高地) & Shirahone Onsen (白骨温泉)
4.1 TAISHO POND (大正池), Kamikochi (上高地)
4.2 RETREAT IN THE JAPANESE ALPS, Shirahone Onsen (白骨温泉)
4.3 MOMENTS OF ESCAPE, Tsuruya Ryokan (つるや旅館), Shirahone Onsen (白骨温泉)

Day 5: Hida-Takayama (飛騨高山)
5.1 CITY IN THE MOUNTAINS, Hida-Takayama (飛騨高山)
5.2 HIDA BEEF (飛騨牛), Hida-Takayama (飛騨高山)
5.3 SAKE (日本酒) BREWERIES, Hida-Takayama (飛騨高山)
5.4 YOSHIJIMA HOUSE (吉島家住宅), Hida-Takayama (飛騨高山)
5.5 HIGASHIYAMA WALKING COURSE (東山遊歩道), Hida-Takayama (飛騨高山)

Day 6: Hida-Takayama (飛騨高山), Shirakawa-go (白川郷) & Ainokura (相倉)
6.1 MIYAGAWA MORNING MARKET (宮川朝市), Hida-Takayama (飛騨高山), Gifu Prefecture (岐阜県)
6.2 OGIMACHI IN THE RAIN, Shirakawa-go (白川郷), Gifu Prefecture (岐阜県)
6.3 SOBA, TEMPLE & LOOKOUT, Shirakawa-go (白川郷)
6.4 RAINY AFTERNOON IN AINOKURA (相倉), Gokayama (五箇山)
6.5 GASSHO MINSHUKU, FLOWER BEDS & RICE PADDY FIELDS, Ainokura (相倉), Gokayama (五箇山)
6.6 CROAKING FROGS AND MOONLIGHT REFLECTIONS, Gokayama (五箇山)

Day 7: Kanazawa (金沢)
7.1 DEPARTURE IN THE RAIN, Ainokura (相倉) to Kanazawa (金沢)
7.2 A SEAFOOD PARADISE – OMICHO MARKET (近江町市場)
7.3 D T Suzuki Museum (鈴木大拙館)
7.4 Kenroku-en Garden (兼六園)
7.5 Oyama Shrine (尾山神社) and Nagamachi Samurai District (長町)
7.6 Nomura Samurai House (武家屋敷跡 野村家), Nagamachi Samurai District (長町)
7.7 Sushi Ippei (一平鮨), Katamachi (片町)

Day 8: Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture (金沢, 石川県)
8.1 Iki Iki Tei (いきいき亭) and Higashide Coffee (東出珈琲店), Omicho Market (近江町市場)
8.2 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art (21世紀美術館)
8.3 Kazuemachi District (主計町茶屋街)
8.4 Higashi Chaya District (東山ひがし茶屋街)
8.5 Kaga Yuzen Toro Nagashi (加賀友禅燈ろう流し), Asano River (浅野川)
8.6 AFTERMATH OF KAGA YUZEN TORO NAGASHI (加賀友禅燈ろう流し)

Day 9 & 10: Tokyo (東京)
9.1 Marunouchi (丸の内) & Nihonbashi (日本橋)
10.1 OEDO ANTIQUE MARKET (大江戸骨董市), Tokyo Forum (東京国際フォーラム)
10.2 FARMER’S MARKET, United Nations University (東京国連大学), Aoyama (青山)

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DAY 3 (7/7): CRAB AND SAKE, Kyoto, Japan, 2016.12.05

After a long morning of temple visits, we spent the remaining of the day hopping here and there to satisfy our appetite and check out shops and buildings in Downtown Kyoto.  After coming out from Ginkakuji, we decided to go for a late lunch nearby at Kani Douraku Kitashirakawa (かに道楽 北白川), an outlet of the seafood restaurant chain specialized in Japanese crab.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAKani Douraku Kitashirakawa (かに道楽 北白川) was at the upper level of a building.  The big display window of crab dishes on the street level ensured that we had found the right place.

02Unlike the main Kani Douraku (かに道楽) shop in Downtown Kyoto or Osaka where there is a large and catchy crab model on their store signage, Kani Douraku Kitashirakawa (かに道楽 北白川) was much low profile on their shopfront.

03Each of us ordered a set meal with several courses of crab dishes.  This is crab sashimi.

04We both like the grilled crab.

06We also ordered kegani (hairy crab from Hokkaido).

07The table setting was Japanese in style, with views to a small Japanese garden.

08It was already late afternoon when we were done with our full course crab meal.  We spent some time walking in the downtown area to check our a few design shops and modern architecture.  The first one we checked out was Tadao Ando’s Kyoto Design House, a piece of modern architecture housing a shop specialized in local crafts and design merchandises.

09After an hour or two wandering leisurely in the downtown checking shops and covered retail streets, we found ourselves passing by another Ando’s design, the Time’s Building.  Built in 1984, the project offers interestingly intimate commercial spaces in an urban setting.  Right by the tree-lined canal along Kiyamachi Dori (木屋町通), the building made reference to a boat floating in water.

10At dinner time, we went to explore the atmospheric Pontocho, one of the most popular nightlife alley in Kyoto.  Just steps away from Kamo River, the narrow alley was flanked both sides with small timber houses that were primarily restaurants, bars and chaya (tea houses).

11Pontocho was narrow and busy, and full of dining options.

13We ended up choosing a sake bar to end our day.

14The sake bar obviously offered lots of options for sake.  We decided to get the small cup so we can try a few more options of sake (Japanese rice wine).

16The sake bar was specialized in sake made in the local area.

18The two young staff were friendly despite we could only communicate with simple English/ Japanese words.

19There were over thirty different kinds of sake available.  The chart on the wall indicated the four main variations of taste for the sake: sweet, pure, dry, bitter.

21One of the sake we tried was Koto sen nen (Thousand year old capital).

23Sake and Japanese pickles.

24Small squids in wine sauce was super delicious.

25Oden mix (関東煮) with five ingredients offered good snacks to go with the sake.

26When we left we passed by the busy Pontocho Kaburenjo Theatre.  Audience were coming out of the theatre that was famous for shows of traditional Kamogawa Odori dance.

27Too bad we didn’t have time to check out one of their shows at Pontocho Kaburenjo Theatre.

***

Our posts on 2016 Kyoto and Nara:
OUR FIRST KYOTO STORY, Japan
DAY 1: ARRIVAL AT HIGASHIYAMA (東山), Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 1: RYOANJI TEMPLE (龍安寺), Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 1: NINNAJI TEMPLE (仁和寺), Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 1: KINKAKUJI TEMPLE (金閣寺), Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 1: KITANO TENMANGU SHRINE (北野天満宮), Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 1: NIGHT AT KIYOMIZU-DERA (清水寺), Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 2: MORNING STROLL IN SOUTHERN HIGASHIYAMA (東山), Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 2: KIYOMIZU DERA (清水寺), Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 2: KIYOMIZU DERA to KENNINJI, Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 2: ○△□ and Chouontei Garden and Ceiling of Twin Dragons, KENNINJI TEMPLE (建仁寺), Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 2: SFERA BUILDING (スフェラ・ビル), SHIRKAWA GION (祇園白川), KAMO RIVER (鴨川) & DOWNTOWN, Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 2: YAKITORI HITOMI (炭焼創彩鳥家 人見), Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 3: MORNING IN NORTHERN HIGASHIYAMA (北東山), Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 3: NANZENJI (南禅寺), Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 3: PHILOSOPHER’S PATH (哲学の道), Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 3: HONENIN (法然院), Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 3: GINKAKUJI (銀閣寺), Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 3: CRAB AND SAKE, Kyoto, Japan
DAY 4: HORYUJI (法隆寺), Nara (奈良), Japan
DAY 4: TODAIJI TEMPLE (東大寺), Nara (奈良), Japan
DAY 4: KASUGA TAISHA (春日大社), Nara (奈良), Japan
DAY 4: KOFUKUJI (興福寺), Nara (奈良), Japan
DAY 4: NAKAGAWA MASASHICHI SHOTEN (中川政七商店 遊中川), Nara (奈良), Japan
DAY 4: RAMEN & CHRISTMAS LIGHTS, Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 5: FUSHIMI INARI SHRINE (伏見稲荷大社) Part 1, Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 5: FUSHIMI INARI SHRINE (伏見稲荷大社) Part 2, Kyoto, Japan
DAY 5: FAREWELL KYOTO, Kyoto, Japan


OUR FIRST KYOTO STORY, Japan

In Kyoto, we saw skies of blue and clouds of white, and foliage of crimson as if sea of dancing flames.  The bright blessed days, the dark sacred nights, the crystal reflections in the water and the festive scent in the air of peaceful valleys and the thousand-year capital.  After our five-day visit, we think to ourselves what a wonderful place Kyoto truly is.  The moment we left the ancient capital we were already dreaming of our return.
In early December, we decided to take a 5-day escape from our hustle and bustle life in Hong Kong.  We picked Japan’s Kyoto, the city where we purposely avoided during our previous Kansai visit because back then we couldn’t find adequate time for a decent introduction to this crown jewel of Japan.  This time around at the twilight of autumn, we destined to indulge ourselves for a feast of the ancient capital, at which 5-days of fantastic moments inspired us once again to feel the joy and beauty of traveling.  In the next while we will share with you our delightful Kyoto and Nara experience.

kyoto-2016_01Fantastic 5 Days: Getting up early each morning, 5 autumn days with pleasant weather allowed us to visit a number of temples and shrines in Kyoto and Nara, plus incredible cafes, cozy restaurants, interesting design shops, living market, idyllic old neighborhoods, and much more.

dsc_2643Autumn Foliage: Nature’s most vivid instant beyond the eaves of Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines.

dsc_3642Festivity: Celebrations of the season with illuminations, music and food.

dsc_1701-1Colours of the Night: Luminosity and hues of Kyoto’s autumn night.

dsc_2217Zen Gardens: Moments of redemption from the bustling noises of daily life.

dsc_3324Buddhist Architecture: Ancient timber structures revealing a millennium of architectural heritage and cultural preservation.

dsc_1296Eternal Beauty: Enthralled by the eternal beauty of the thousand-year ancient capital.

dsc_2404Tranquil Morning Strolls: Placid old neighborhoods at the first light of the day.

img_9251Sincere Cuisine: Unpretentious regional sake and cuisines with fresh local ingredients.

dsc_2892Contemporary Design: Architecture, industrial designs and handcrafts that celebrate the spirit of the present.

dsc_4022Mystical World of Spirits and Nature: Entering the spiritual woods and legendary mountains of Shintoism.

***

Our posts on 2016 Kyoto and Nara:
OUR FIRST KYOTO STORY, Japan
DAY 1: ARRIVAL AT HIGASHIYAMA (東山), Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 1: RYOANJI TEMPLE (龍安寺), Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 1: NINNAJI TEMPLE (仁和寺), Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 1: KINKAKUJI TEMPLE (金閣寺), Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 1: KITANO TENMANGU SHRINE (北野天満宮), Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 1: NIGHT AT KIYOMIZU-DERA (清水寺), Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 2: MORNING STROLL IN SOUTHERN HIGASHIYAMA (東山), Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 2: KIYOMIZU DERA (清水寺), Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 2: KIYOMIZU DERA to KENNINJI, Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 2: ○△□ and Chouontei Garden and Ceiling of Twin Dragons, KENNINJI TEMPLE (建仁寺), Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 2: SFERA BUILDING (スフェラ・ビル), SHIRKAWA GION (祇園白川), KAMO RIVER (鴨川) & DOWNTOWN, Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 2: YAKITORI HITOMI (炭焼創彩鳥家 人見), Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 3: MORNING IN NORTHERN HIGASHIYAMA (北東山), Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 3: NANZENJI (南禅寺), Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 3: PHILOSOPHER’S PATH (哲学の道), Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 3: HONENIN (法然院), Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 3: GINKAKUJI (銀閣寺), Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 3: CRAB AND SAKE, Kyoto, Japan
DAY 4: HORYUJI (法隆寺), Nara (奈良), Japan
DAY 4: TODAIJI TEMPLE (東大寺), Nara (奈良), Japan
DAY 4: KASUGA TAISHA (春日大社), Nara (奈良), Japan
DAY 4: KOFUKUJI (興福寺), Nara (奈良), Japan
DAY 4: NAKAGAWA MASASHICHI SHOTEN (中川政七商店 遊中川), Nara (奈良), Japan
DAY 4: RAMEN & CHRISTMAS LIGHTS, Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 5: FUSHIMI INARI SHRINE (伏見稲荷大社) Part 1, Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 5: FUSHIMI INARI SHRINE (伏見稲荷大社) Part 2, Kyoto, Japan
DAY 5: FAREWELL KYOTO, Kyoto, Japan