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Ryuji Takahashi

by Ryuji Takahashi

Regional Sake Specialty Store “Ji Sakeya” Owner, Master Sake Sommelier, Shuto-Meijin, and the charismatic guru of ordinary sake. Plans and manages events and seminars with his own unique flare to introduce the appeal of Japanese sake and cuisine, unaffected by the latest trends, while managing a jizake retail store.

Fall Harvest 収穫の秋


ight before typhoon No. 15 brought on catastrophic damage, “Kanemasu Brewery” producing sake brands such as Kanemasu Hatsuhana, etc., held the annual fall harvest for “Oretachi no Sake” in Shibata city, Niigata prefecture. Although I’ve introduced this event numerous times, Oretachi no Sake is a sake production event that assembles general participants for spring planting, rice harvesting in the fall, and winter preparations to produce the 17th “Oretachi no Sake Hatsuhana Junmai Daiginjo.” Recently, as rice planting and rice harvesting events are held at various sake breweries everywhere, Kanemasu Brewery was one of the first sake breweries in the nation that started a sake production event manned by general participants. Even if the participants do not attend all events, participating only once in the spring, fall, or winter season brings the privilege of having your name added onto the sake manual for the finished sake product. This year’s rice harvest was held in the calmness before the storm on a bright, sunny day that was extremely hot for September with no indication of the typhoon and subsequent damage that followed. Participants gathered at the brewery at 08:00 AM and headed to the rice fields by car. Although the heat exceeded 30 degrees, the rice harvesting started while some areas of the rice field was so muddy a foot could get caught in the mud. Glancing over at the next rice paddy over while harvesting rice, the rice plants on the other side were taller. Yamadanishiki was the rice planted on the other side, taller than the Gohyakumangoku being harvested, a fun discovery for a Japanese sake fan. Once the harvesting began, I expected the combine harvester to kick in for fast progress. In reality, the hot weather necessitated frequent breaks to prevent heat stroke. Harvested rice plants were accumulated on the side and threshed with the combine harvester.

甚来る直前に新潟県新発田市で金升・ 大な被害をもたらした台風 15 号が

After a sweaty harvest followed by a commemorative photo taken with all participants, the group returned to the sake brewery and gathered at the café inside the brewery for the banquet. Of course, the sake served at the banquet was the last “Oretachi no Sake Hatsuhana Junmai Daiginjo” completed in July, an extravagant banquet where attendees were free to enjoy all the sake available. At every event, delicious seasonal Niigata cuisine is received from a locally renowned caterer for the attendees. This time, the sake brewery grilled the meat and a toast was given with sake produced by the brewery to kick off the banquet. Workers at the sake brewery join in to talk truthfully until all recollections are lost, another fun aspect of this event. This time, I also had a great time drinking until I lost all recollections and was assisted home by the locals. However, the people of Niigata prefecture are warm and said let’s drink again sometime. I love Niigata prefecture for their warm people. This is definitely an event I highly recommend all sake fans experience at least once.

初花などを醸す酒蔵「金升酒造」で、 「お れたちの酒を造る会」の秋の恒例行事で ある稲刈りが行なわれた。何度も紹介し ているが、おれたちの酒を造る会は、春 の田植え、秋の稲刈り、冬の仕込みを一 般参加により行い、17 作目の「おれた ちの仕込んだ酒 初花 純米大吟醸」を 造るイベントである。ここ最近は、各地 の酒蔵で田植えイベントや稲刈りイベン トが開催されているが、一般参加型酒造 りイベントを全国でもいち早く始めた酒 蔵である。すべての工程に参加せずと も、春・秋・冬のどこか1回でも参加す ることによって、出来あがった酒の巻紙 に自分の名前が入る特典がある。今回の 稲刈りは嵐の前の静けさと言うか、まさ かあのような被害の出る台風になるとは 想像もつかないくらいの快晴で、9 月と は思えないくらいの猛暑の中行われた。 朝の 8 時頃に酒蔵に集合し、車で田んぼ まで移動。30 度越えの暑さであったが、 場所によっては田んぼの中に沈み込む様 なぬかるんだ状態の足場で稲を刈り始め る。稲刈りしながら隣の田んぼを見る と、こちらよりも稲の背が高い。隣は山 田錦とのことで、稲の背の高さが今回刈 り取る五百万石と違う事も解るのは日本

酒好きとしては良い勉強になり嬉しい部 分だ。刈ると同時にコンバインが入り勢 いよく作業を進めていくと思いきや、あ まりの暑さに熱中症になるのではないか という危険もあり各自休憩を取りながら の作業となってしまった。刈った稲をあ る程度溜めて置いた状態から、コンバイ ンで脱穀していく。汗ダクになりながら 作業を行い、参加者全員での記念撮影の 後、蔵に戻り酒蔵の中にある蔵カフェに て宴会が始まる。勿論、宴会の酒は今年 7 月に完成した前回の「おれたちが仕込 んだ酒 初花 純米大吟醸」で、その酒 を浴びるほど飲める贅沢な宴会である。 毎回、季節や人数に応じて地元の各名店 と言われる仕出し料理屋から新潟県の旨 い料理が届く。今回は酒蔵の方でも肉を 焼いてくれて蔵元の乾杯で宴が始まる。 楽しく酒蔵の人間も皆で酒を飲み、本音 で記憶が無くなるまで語り合えるという 面白さがある。今回は、私自身、記憶が 無くなるまで酒を楽しく飲ませていただ き、地元と人に抱えられて帰るハメに なってしまった。しかし、新潟の人達は 温かくまた呑もうと言ってくれる。そん な新潟が私は大好きである。是非、酒好 きには一度は体験してみて欲しいイベン トである。

Japanese Restaurant News

Vol. 29

No. 252


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