[Handa city] Discover Handa's Sake Brewing Culture at "Kunizakari Sake no Bunka-kan"
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Handa City on the Chita Peninsula is home to many historical buildings, including black-walled storehouses that line the slowly flowing canals. Since the Edo period, the transportation and brewing industries have flourished, and the town has prospered.
And even now, Handa City has many sake breweries, a red brick building that makes Kabuto Beer, and the head office of Mizkan, which is famous for vinegar and Ajipon (citrus-soy vinegar), and the brewing culture has been handed down from generation to generation.
This time, we went to the Kunizakari Sake no Bunka-kan,which is housed in a warehouse that has been used for sake brewing for over 200 years! You can deepen your understanding not only about sake brewing, but also about the appeal of sake and the tools and techniques that are filled with the wisdom of our ancestors.
What is Kunizakari Sake no Bunka-kan?
Kunizakari Sake no Bunka-kan is a sake museum operated by Nakano Sake Brewery Co., Ltd. Nakano Sake Brewery is a long-established brewery that has continued to make sake in Handa for nearly 180 years since its establishment in 1844, but it was one of the first to introduce machinery and continues to inherit the traditional techniques and spirit of sake brewing. They have achieved stable quality and improvements.
With the completion and operation of the new factory in 1985, the sake brewery, where sake had been made for about 200 years, was renovated and Kunizakari Sake no Bunka-kan was established. Inside the museum, actual tools used for sake brewing are on display, and you can also deepen your understanding of Chita's sake brewing culture and basic knowledge of sake.
With its massive black-painted walls and lattice-framed white plaster windows, the brewery itself is a storyteller of Chita's sake brewing history. The reception desk is located on the first floor, and the second floor houses exhibits, a tasting area, and a store.
The facility staff will guide you through the facility while explaining the facilities, so even those who are not familiar with sake can feel free to ask questions.
Let's enter the hall now!
Panel exhibition that unravels the history of Chita's sake brewing and Kuni Zakari
Complete the reception and go up the stairs.
In the days when the building was used for sake brewing, the first floor was used as a place to make sake and the second floor was used as a warehouse. Therefore, the stairs are steep, so climb slowly. Next to the stairs, you can also see the large tanks that were actually used.
On the panels lining the walls, there are written stories about the background to the flourishing of sake brewing in Chita and anecdotes related to Nakano Sake Brewery 's brand, Kuni Zakari.
Chita's favorable climate and geography allowed sake brewing to flourish. It is said that more than 300 years ago in Chita, in the early Edo period (1665), there were 114 sake breweries established in Chita as a whole and 10 in Handa.
Chita has an average annual temperature of 15.5 degrees Celsius, which is suitable for the fermentation of unrefined sake, and is not much different from the precipitation and temperatures of Nada, Fushimi, and Saijo, which are considered famous sake brewing areas. In addition to being blessed with good quality sake rice and clean spring water, the three Tokugawa families and the Owari Clan encouraged the brewery, creating an environment conducive to the production of good sake.
Then, in the middle of the Edo period (1723), shipments to Edo began. Chita is located between Edo and Kamigata (present-day Osaka) and is popularly known as "Chugoku-shu" (middle region sake), and by the end of the 18th century it had grown to become a major sake-producing region, accounting for 30% of the sake entering Edo.
With this background in mind, Kuni Zakari founded the company in 1844. The name "Kuni Zakari" was chosen to convey the desire for "the prosperity of the country and sake.''
In 1890, when the first joint Imperial Japanese Army-Navy exercise was held on the Chita Peninsula, the headquarters of the Imperial Japanese Army was located on the grounds of Kuni Zakari and welcomed the Emperor.
The panel also includes information on the origins of the kanji character for "sake" and the reason why October 1 is called Sake Day. It is also interesting to learn trivia about sake that will make you say, "Wow"!
Enjoy watching sake rice and the rice-making process
The main ingredients for sake are rice and water. The rice used for sake brewing is called "saka-mai (sake rice)," which is different from the rice we usually eat (common rice). Sake rice is characterized by its larger grain size and lower protein and fat content. Some sake experts can even guess the variety of sake rice by drinking sake.
The process of polishing sake rice to reduce impurities is called "milling," and the name and taste of sake varies greatly depending on the ratio of milled rice.
In the museum, there is an exhibit where visitors can compare the milling ratio and the actual rice. The color and size of the rice grains vary so much between the unpolished rice and the 50% polished sake rice.
There is also a diorama exhibit that shows the process of sake brewing in an easy-to-understand manner. Many of the processes are now mechanized, but you can see that in the past, each process was carefully carried out by hand by craftspeople.
The diorama dolls are made of washi paper, which makes them tasteful and perfect for Japanese sake.
In addition, there are also unique sake cups and tokkuri (sake drinking cups), which showcase the ingenuity of our predecessors in making sake enjoyable and tasty to drink.
Bekuhai is a Tosa Zakyo-hai (a cup used for a game) cup from Kochi and is a sake cup used in ozashiki games. It is shaped like a top and tilts when placed on the table, so you must be drunk up when the sake is passed on.
There are a variety of shapes and sizes, including those with holes in them and those shaped like a tengu or a gourd, and they are popular as souvenirs from Kochi.
Hato Tokkuri, which resembles the shape of a pigeon, is a sake vessel that is placed diagonally in the hearth or charcoal brazier to warm it to the temperature of human skin. By putting it in the ash, it is slowly warmed by far infrared rays, so it is possible to make warm sake with a mellow taste without spoiling the flavor of the sake.