Sake Retailer Begins Custom-Made Sake Barrel Service
Since November 22, Kurand Sake Market, an online sake dealer with locations in the Tokyo area, are offering custom-made sake barrels for use during festive occasions like weddings and year-end parties.
Barrels are available in three sizes and are decorated to the customer’s specifications. They also include wooden mallets, ladles, and, of course, sake carefully chosen by the experts at Kurand. Optional wooden or lacquer masu cups are also available.
The barrels are said to be lightweight and easy to handle and open. The inside is a stainless steel bowl that can be washed and reused or simply kept as a memento of the auspicious occasion it was ordered for.
Few office parties or get-togethers have their very own custom-made sake barrels – making this a novel way to commemorate your next event.
Miniature Sake Brewery Cedar Balls On Sale
Sugidama are woven balls of cedar that are hung from the eaves of sake breweries to signify that a new batch of fresh “shinshu” sake is brewing. The balls brown over time, lending them to their traditional use as a sort of brewing hourglass.
Now, anyone can have this traditional symbol of sake brewing with palm-sized sugidama on sale from Kodamaya in Tottori Prefecture. Real sugidama are far too large to be easily kept around the house, but these balls measure about 12cm (5 inches) in diameter, making them compact enough to fit on a desk.
Despite their cute appearance, these are real sugidama made to order by the same craftspeople who supply breweries. Orders take about two weeks to complete and the smallest sized balls sell for about 6,000 yen (US$55) depending on the order specifications.
It’s a great gift for sake lovers that’s both boldly symbolic of the culture and tasteful enough to fit into any environment.
Ibaraki Prefecture Begins New Type of “Toji” Brewing Masters
On December 6, Ibaraki Prefecture awarded three people with the title of “Hitachi Toji” in which “Hitachi” is an old name for the region where Ibaraki is situated.
A toji is the person responsible for all aspects of the brewing process. To put it another way; if sake-brewing were movie-making, a toji would be the director. They use their expertise to accurately create the desired vision of the brewery. Nearly every brewery has a toji, but some regions have created a higher level of certification like the Nanbu Toji of Iwate Prefecture.
The sake industry is facing an increasingly serious labor shortage of the highly skilled toji and it’s hoped these special titles will help attract talented brewers to the area. As an added benefit these highly skilled toji can also raise the reputation of area breweries both in Japan and around the globe.
The three new Hitachi Toji are Shoichiro Morishima of Morishima Brewery in Hitachi City, Tadayuki Suzuki from Yoshikubo Brewery in Mito City, and Michiko Urasa at Yuki Sake Brewery in Yuki City. They were awarded their titles after a series of interviews and written and practical tests.
Hopefully these new masters of brewing can continue to be shining examples of this noble profession and help draw in new and eager talent to the field.
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