Visiting the Sake brewery in Fujinomiya ( Shizuoka )

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

We went to my favorite sake brewery in Fujinomiya, Takasago sake brewery. This brewery was founded more than 180 years ago. They use the undercurrent water from Mt. Fuji and special rice made for sake from Hyogo and Nagano. The collaboration between mild water, high quality rice and the passion of sake brewers make delicious sake. We visited the place a little too late this year. They have almost finished this year’s sake making. Still we could smell the elegant fragrance of sake in the warehouse called kura. We learnt how their sake is made as we took a look inside of the brewery.

They still employ the method called Yamahaizukuri which requires a lot of care, patience and risk-running but it will produce a deep, complex taste. The person at the sake brewery told us that sake brewers need more young people to take over the tradition. Sake has a history of 1,000 years or so and it has been related to many Japanese cultural events and daily life. For example,in my family sake is one of the most important necessities !

 

 

Another thing to see at this sake brewery is these Buddhist statues of Yakushi Nyorai and Kannon Diety. About 141 years ago, Japanese Government told the people to do away with all Buddhist’s things in order to establish a Shinto-centered nation. On top of Mt. Fuji there were many Buddhist’s statues but because of the Meiji Government’s order, almost all of them were broken. They were almost always decapitated. Some people who didn’t want to do that saved some statues secretly and kept them. They have the people called goriki, or sherpas, carry them down. They must have been very heavy.

Many of them were thrown into the crater of Mt. Fuji but survived to the amazement our eyes. I don’t know why they had to do that.

 

      

After learning about sake and history, we all enjoyed tasting sake and ended up buying some bottles to enjoy at home.

Setsubun, the festival on February 3rd

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

At the night of Setsubun, many people throw roasted soy beans as they shout, “ Oni wa soto, Fuku wa uchi “ meaning “May demons go out, fortune come in”

Or some people eat ehoumaki , a thick roll of sushi. When they eat it, they are supposed to face the year’s lucky direction. This year’s lucky direction is

south south east. The sushi roll is too big to finish all by myself so I always cut it up into smaller pieces to eat.

 

 

 

Throwing beans is a traditional thing but personally I don’t like it very much. I feel uncomfortable to throw food and cleaning up is troublesome for me. So I cooked black soy bean rice. I just learned this dish at the kaiseki cooking class. It’s very easy. You buy roasted black soy beans at a supermarket. Rinse them and soak them with rinsed rice for one hour before cooking. You don’t have to season them. The black soy beans give their taste and flavor. Do you know why we throw or eat beans ? This idea is from “ onmyoudou”. Beans represent metal according to onmyoudou. After Setsubun, spring is supposed to come and trees or woods represent spring.

To usher in spring, we need to weaken the element of metal. Why do we have to do that ?

For example, an ax made of metal can cut trees. By throwing beans at demons or eating beans, people tried to reduce the influence of metal.

According to onmyoudou, all the spirits or ki are composed of five elements such as tree, fire, soil, metal and water. I find it very interesting.