Brewing sake – Experience how the workers at a sake brewery control the fermentation of sake
Imajo-juku in Minami-Echizen flourished as a post town in the olden days. As winter approaches, the sake breweries that line the streets of the old town start to prepare for the brewing of sake. There are about 1500 sake breweries in Japan, and other than 13 large-scale breweries that automate their brewing processes with machines, most of the other small to medium breweries still preserve traditional sake brewing methods . In Imajo-juku where Tamamuraya, the host for this experience, is located, there are 4 sake breweries. Unlike the large-scale breweries which use machines in their brewing processes, these 4 breweries all brew their sake by hand. We have planned this experience for you, where you can visit these sake breweries as they are in the midst of the sake brewing, and experience for yourself how Japanese sake is made at a real brewery. Sake brewing starts from making yeast, which is the base for making Japanese sake. This yeast is cultivated over a few days, before koji mold is added to make the moromi, which is the mixture of all the ingredients that ferments to form the undiluted form of sake. In this whole process, the toji, or master brewer, is the person in charge of cultivating the yeast, koji and moromi, and the toji has to control the temperature, humidity, the condition of the rice and other variables depending on specific conditions every year, and there is no standard procedure written in the books for this. When this delicate process is under way, visitors are usually not allowed into the breweries. However, we have partnered with the breweries to offer this rare opportunity to experience this first-hand. While you can choose to only participate in a one-day workshop, we recommend that you join us for the full 4-day workshop. The sake is brewed over a period of four days, so you will be able to see the process of sake brewing from start to end. Participants who joined us in last year’s workshop shared that they were able to notice the changes in fragrance over the 4 days, which is the charm of this experience. Come join us in experiencing the making of Japanese sake, a drink that plays an important role in sacred rituals and the lives of Japanese people.