Featured Post

August: The Return of Souls

August is peak summer season in Japan.  We can look forward to some of the most spectacular fireworks displays and festivals in the world, ...

For the Glory of Sake

For the Glory of Sake



Couldn't help but notice the snarky remark the Japanese guy made sitting next to me on my left.  " Oh...you like Japanese sake.   This is a Japanese drink.  I like I like" he chided in Japanese English.  He attempted to rest his hand on my balls, but I slapped it away.  "No shit, then why are you drinking two fingers Jack-n-Coke" I retorted.   

I was requested to come and have a sit and drink lesson by the owner of the bar, who in turn introduced me to this drunk S.O.B.  And for a nominal fee I had to grit and bear the sickness of sitting next to a stinky salary man with a Black penis fetish for several hours while appearing like I was having the time of my life.  I didn't want to ruin it for my Jukujo matron and patron, so I behaved.  

I haven't been to a Japanese shrine in a while, but whenever I go I always pray and thank the Gods for the Japanese Jukujo.  I thank them for delivering me from the scourge of silly little she-men who do a dis-service to the gospel of Japanese sake, and you wonder why the younger generation have a negative image of their own national drink.     Sake salvationist like myself who stand in the trenches to defend and protect Japanese sake from the sissiphication and the wapanization of Japanese sake, often times go unnoticed.   I make too much sense, and so therefore it must be wrong.  Same disease of the soul you see in North America.  


In order for sake to survive it has to be exported, repackaged, and re-branded overseas before it can have appeal at home again - Japan.    It's like this because saketeers and marketers have dropped the ball.  They forgot to export the culture of sake along with the sake, unlike in the world of sushi where you have "sushi police" who travel around the world to check that sushi is being properly represented.   If you were to juxtapose that with sake, and visit so-called sake bars you would rarely see sake being served in its natural form.  Most likely it will be used in cocktails or fruit juice chu-hi, and shots so that the yuppies can appear stuffy and sophisticated with their arm candy in tow, and horrible Japanese pronunciation to boot.  


When I set foot on Japanese soil years ago I vowed to fight evils that would destroy the Japanese soul.   I am the soul of Japan, not just a soul in Japan and I have a commitment to save what's left of sake's soul and the soul of the nation.    In all the years of my travels I have learned from Japanese women, and some men, that sake has its own essence.   I used to borrow my friend Japanese wife and stay overnight with her in my room and study the balance of sake and Jukujo.   Like watching the drops of sake move down her inner thigh and the deep aromatics from her perspiration blended in with a nice Junmai Dai-Ginjo.  


I once did an all nude sake and onsen photo shoot with one of my Niigata mommas (31 y.o) in a  private outdoor bath in Gosen, Niigata.   Since she was a pro-cyclist and junior olympian swimmer for years she had these well-toned and shapely thighs with  creamy white skin that accentuated her beautiful body.  A truly and purely Japanese woman, even by conservative Japanese standards.   In the backdrop were rolling hills and a lake in the foreground.    When I positioned her under the lamp that was next to the edge of the spa with the natural scenery in the background, I had a god moment.  


A quick suck on the nipples to make them stand up and the composition was perfect.   I took the shot.  I had her pour sake down those nipples while I sucked and  swallowed the sake off of them.   The steam and mist from the hot bath mixed in with the sake  created beautiful aromatics in the water.   Had her spread them to reveal it and worshipped at the alter of vulva.   Enjoyed the smegma and saltines along with the cherry on the nose.  This is me, and a far cry from the bar scene in the first paragraph.  God, deliver me from the scourge of ridiculous salarymen.  


As I have stated previously, for a nominal fee I have been teaching bar owners in Kanagawa on how to serve and explain Japanese sake in English to foreign visitors.    They all know never to mix sake or make it into a wapanese drink.  Sake should be served in a variety of drinking ware.   First, avoid using an ochoko, instead use a kikijoko.   Size matters.  The only reason you would ever need to use ochoko is when you are measuring your servings.  This is so that everyone drinking can have a chance to enjoy the sake.   Then, switch to earthenware or stoneware serving cups made from clay - guinomi.  Let the customer feel the difference in texture.   Another option would be to use a freshly cut pine masu - small wooden box shaped drinking cup usually made of freshly cut wood.   The aromatics from the pine and the sake give off a different impression and is very Japanese.   Lastly, I recommend using a full bell-shaped wine glass to enjoy the color and deep aromatics of the sake.   


Next, we explain the different classes of sake, making sure to  properly explain Junmai-shu and Junmai Daiginjo-shu.  And, being careful to use words like "pressed" instead of "filtered" when separating lees and the proper milling rates of sake.  Lactic acid and yeast and molds and what the differences are, so when customers ask they'll have the answers.   One thing I notice with bar owners is that they don't know anything about regionality.  When you serve sake you need to explain where the sake came from, who brewed it, and what unique regionality is attached to the sake and the region.   For example, Niigata  is famous for a type table rice called ko-shi-hi-kari, and then explain the differences between a table rice and a sake rice.  Instead, most bar owners serve sake and ask silly questions like "oishi desuka / is it good?" yawn.  Or, they just look at you and say stupid shit like " wow, you must be Japanese!  Ohh, wow, you are great."    Sure, the Japanese are just trying to be polite, but most times they just go overboard and start to sound stupid ass hell. 


I am writing this in preparation for sake day on October 1st.   The brewing season officially starts on this day.  Of course, larger breweries brew all-year-round, but the traditional way has always been October 1st.  There are other traditions related to the Kanji that also has significance to sake day, but that's too archaic and maybe not so relevant.  Just know it's when all of the great sake festivals start and when brewers start making sake.   Look for exciting events all over Japan, especially in Kyoto on October 1st and 2nd.   

Let's hope the bar staff gets it right on delivering on sake lore, tradition, and brewing methodology.  For the foreign tourist welcome to Autumn.   Great brash and lively sake with delicious autumn foods is the best.   Expect to meet tons of new poeple and mingle with sake enthusiast from all over the world.    October 1st is the like the Mecca for sake in Japan.  Expect me to be up in Niigata and around Tohoku savoring the lovely Jukujo and great hot sake.   Look for "hiya-oroshi" brewed sake.  It's  sake that  is pasteurized once just after brewing but released in the autumn without the standard second pasteurization -  this is the most autumnal of all sake styles.   Expect bold crisp and gamey flavors that accentuate autumnal beauty.  

 

Грижа за “чашка’ зима..?

Грижа за “чашка’ зима..?
     Каков вкус би требало да има зимата ...?


Можеби вкусот на печен костен над огнот. А малку Џек Фрост со пијалок од     јајца (eggnog – популарен во Америка). Мал студ на врвовите од прстите. Малку време за потсетување на минатот и разимслување за сегашноста и иднината. Или пак...





Зимска чаша со саке
   Зима
Не се работи за Дедо Мраз. Никогаш не се работело за Св. Никола.  Всушност    се работи за некој Џоли – дебел белец кој што им носел поклони на добрите мали момчиња и девојчиња низ целиот свет, со цел да шири добро расположение. Сепак, се чини дека зимата била и е една ознака за Божиќ за целиот западен свет. 
Кога ние помислуваме на зима, тоа не асоцира на чорапчиња над каминот, бонбони, шеќерни бастумчиња, елка накитена со подароци околу неа. Како и да е Божиќ си е Божиќ. Тоа е само еден ден, и нема никаква врска со зимата. Зимата е годишно време.  Да не го заборавиме ова. Иако Јапонија слави Божиќ, или само официјално го прави тоа, Божиќ е маркетинг трик за младите брачни парови и малите јапончиња кои престануваат да бидат јапонци за милисекунда. Вистинската дефиниција на Зимата е следната. 
Топло саке; топла купка за рекалсирање; топло тенџере полно со набе; Хиномару љубов, и топол пијалок од лактоза. Официјален пијалок во Јапонија во зима е топло саке. Тоа одсекогаш било така. Топло саке. Топло саке. Топло саке. Зимата во Јапонија е топло саке. Тоа отсекогаш било така. Суштината на топлото добро саке е во возрасната убавица (Jukujo bijin на јапонски).


Shimamura Reiko
Години 40; Висина 163cm; Гради B93 (F-cup)
Возрасна жена / Полуразголена во сино со бело кимоно
Улога на мајка • Улога на  медицинска сестра • Иако возрасна, сепак таа возраст ја води до перфекција. Нејзиниот саке профил е прикажан подолу
Yuki ManMan
Снежната држава
雪国 • Yuki значи снег  雪 • Manman значи распостраност или безграничност 漫々

Dewazakura Daiginjo-shu
山田錦 Yamada Nishiki, премиум ориз користен за готвење на сакето
精米歩合 45% Seimaibuai , процент на ориз што останува после готвењето
小川酵母 Ogawa Brook Yeast, се ферметира на ниска температура 
日本酒度 Nihonshu-do + 5, индикатор на сувост. Повисока вредност означува поголема сувост на производот
酸度 Киселотс 1.2 
Алкохол. 15.7% 


Ова саке со години се сервира на ниска температура
Старото саке или кошу (koshu на јапонски) има посебен вкус кој што некој можеби, а некои можеби нема да го сакаат. Повеќето саке ентузијасти сакаат да вметнат арома на деликатни вкусови најтесно поврзани со популарното саке кое има додатоци од цвеќе.
Виното од саке, со тек на годините, нема повеќе вкус на грозје, и ако го тестиравте без да знаете од што е направено, немаше никогаш да погодите.
Мислете на крцкаво зелено јаболко
Мислам крцкави зелено јаболко.
Иако обично се служи разладено, виното од саке исто така може да се сервира топло. Кога е разладенп можете целосно да уживате во сите негови вкусови без да забележите од што е направено. А кога е топло, сеуште можете да го препознаете вкусот на зеленото јаболко. Јас го претпочитам затоплено. Една од причините зошто е тоа така е затоа што нема да имате внатрешна реакција во носот од вдишувањето на

топлото саке. Ова особено важи ако имате чуствителен нос, баш како мене. И се разбира, со секое саке оди по една возрасна убавица (Jukujo) бидејќи тоа е традицијата за служење на јапонското саке. Сакето иако е правено од страна на мажи, тие нигогаш ниту го послужувале ниту ќе го послужуваат.

Кога ќе се спојат сите овие работи и послужувањето од страна на возрасните убавици, се добива природно задоволство за зимата. Ова е вашата чашко која треба да ја конзумирате во зима.

Yasukuni Shrine for the Foreign Tourist August 15th



[ Taken with my Pentax K-1000 film / My original]


Many tourists will express an interest in visiting the most contentious shrine in Japan - Yasukuni.   Should they or shouldn't they is a matter of personal prerogative, but to say "no" they are not allowed to visit a war-linked shrine would be like making a value judgment call on them.  Some tourist may feel intimidated by all the negative press surrounding this shrine, and may even steer clear of it all together.   That is up to you/them...Allow me to clear things up a bit by at least dispelling some of the negative rumors and misinformation by The Press surrounding the shrine.


Yasukuni Shrine has no dead remains buried under its premises, and it does not honor war criminals.  In other words, no one goes there to chant and burn candles for war criminals and neither do they perform incantations to bring them back from the dead, so you are safe, don't worry.  You do not have to fear anything at all.    The photo above is a young lady who appears to be very patriotic and a person who loves her country.  This display of national pride is no different than any other country.  She is not honoring war dead, she is honoring the sacrifice of all of her people who died in service of her country.   The flag she is holding was adopted as the official flag of Japan in 1999 and is called the Hinomaru - it has been around much longer.  The flag on her back with the  disk and sun rays has been in existence since before the war.    These flags do not honor war criminals.


That is not to say that some of those who visit the shrine are not radicalized, or  those who remember the glory days of WWII.  This too is their prerogative as such it is their country.   Every country has them.




Yasukuni pre-dates WWII and was established by Emperor Meiji to those that have sacrificed their lives since 1869! Before you were born.  When visitors or the bereaved approach the main altar they pray for peace and reflect on the war and war dead, including animals involved in all wars and services since Emperor Meiji's reign.   Way before your time and way before WWII, and way before any war criminals were remembered here.


As a tourist, you are not required to be a historian nor are you required to believe the revisionist.  Like any other shrine you may visit you take with it what you see, hear, and experience.  Yasukuni Shrine is no different than that experience.   The only difference is that it is a linked to events that changed the whole world.  


.  


A good way to experience visiting Yasukuni Shrine is to first visit the Yushukan War Museum, and this is the most important starting point.   It is a really well thought out museum with lots of interesting artifacts dating back to the great Boshin Wars and more.   The layout of the museum is also well arranged and very easy to move around.   You can see airplanes and even a train in its original form.  The museum is quite big, so it will take some time to move around it.  There's a lot to see and read in both Japanese and English.   The list of names of those in all wars were written in Japanese and some English.



There were men, women, and even non-Japanese who served in wars for Japan.   Several dozen Canadians, Americans, Koreans, Ainus, Asians, and even women who died in the service of the Empire of Japan.   After leaving the museum you may want to have a lunch in the park adjacent to the main altar  next to the No stage.   It will take some time to digest what you see and what you take in.


As for when you should visit is completely up to you.  August 15th seems to be the most contentious time to visit Yasukuni because of WW2.   This date commemorates the  Victory over Japan Day, and is the day most people visit the shrine, including tourist.   If you choose to go on this date be prepared for a spectacle of nationalism.  You'll hear war music and old timers dressed  in military uniforms.  Actually, it is the most interesting time to visit here because you get to see live demonstrations and meet lots of people and hear their stories.


For the bereaved who visit the shrine yearly to pay homage to their fallen loved ones do so in August because it is that time of year when all Japanese return to their hometowns to honor their passed loved ones.    In other parts of Japan this season, called "obon", is held a month earlier, but for the most part August is the month where companies in Kanto region close their offices and sent their workers home for a week.    Many return home to honor loved one's gravestones and welcome the return of ancestors.

The shrine itself is supported by the people of Japan through donations and is therefore not paid for by tax dollars.   When the former Occupational Authorities  wrote up Japan's current day constitution The Separation of Church and State was clearly written out and Shinto was no longer a matter of the State.   As a result, the shrine stands on its own and is another reason why government officials are not to use tax money to offer the shrine.  Even Abe Shinzo pays out of his own pocket to the shrine.


On a diplomatic level, State level officials are discouraged from visiting Yasukuni.  In spite of that, many Japanese politicians visit Yasukuni for reasons that are both personal and symbolic.  And as long as it is not on the tax payer's dime it should be perfectly fine if a politician chooses to do this.
However, the prime minister and Emperor will most likely never set foot on Yasukuni, and this is not because of the stigma associated with wars, but in order to protect regional peace, and to suppress nationalistic fervor and for posterity.


Misconceptions about the Emperor of Japan not wanting to visit are  just rumors by overzealous and ignorant  journalist both in Japan and in the West.   The shrine was founded by the emperor and all interred there died in his name - millions.  Need I say more without sounding like a mouthpiece for the Imperial Household Agency?  You get the point.  




On a final note,  as a tourist, getting to Yasukuni is below:

JR

10 minutes walk from Ichigaya and Iidabashi stations (Sobu Line and Chuo Line)

Subway

5 minutes walk from Kudanshita Station (Tozai Line)
5 minutes walk from Kudanshita Station (Hanzomon Line)
5 minutes walk from Kudanshita Station (Toei Shinjuku Line)
10 minutes walk from Ichigaya Station (Namboku Line)
10 minutes walk from Ichigaya and Iidabashi stations (Yurakucho Line)

City bus

One minute walk from the Kudanue stop served by the Kudanshita-Takadanobaba and Shibuya-Ochanomizu lines
[ N.B. though poorly taken photos, please do not take them without my consent]

Revisionist vs. Revisionist

Everybody is a revisionist at some point.   The classification of War Criminal vs. Judicial Martyr  is interpreted differently here in Japan.  War criminal conviction was handed down by the the United States of America, whereas judicial martyr was defined by the Japanese, and this why the bereaved can still receive pensions from their lost loved ones who sacrificed their lives during WW2.  






Aichi's Beauty: Yuya Onsen



Aichi  is a quiet hidden  gem of a prefecture in the Chubu region of Japan's main island, Honshu.   It's located in between two major cities - Nagoya and Hamamatsu.    From Toyohashi Station you can reach Yuya in a little over an hour, and from Nagoya about the same.   Most travellers and business people either commute to or live in Nagoya, and if  you are a partygoer Nagoya seems to be where the action is all at.   I too have enjoyed Nagoya on several occasions.  A city most often famed for its castles and shrines, and most of all delicious chicken.   

For the onsen lover, Gifu, next door to Nagoya,  seems to be the place where the locals from Aichi flock to, and for a good reason; some of Japan's Top 100 onsen are there. - Gifu Grand Hotel.    What about Aichi though.  What's there to see and do, and what about this place Yuya Onsen?



General Vicinity of Yuya Onsen

Aichi's beauty lies in its rustic industrial landscape.   Lifeless sawmills with empty parking lots; nobody in sight.   Stern leafy deciduous evergreens standing still and undisturbed against a backdrop of oaks and pines.   Two car trains meandering round valleys and river gorges; low distant hum from a diesel engine driven train.  A Ghibli scene here and there like this train station at Yuya Onsen.   



I barely made it on time for the day-use bath, but it was worth the long train ride up.   Work finished at 2:30, at the university, and so had just enough time to catch a bus to the station.  Once there in the bath the song of summer came rushing in.  Whirring Cicadas!  What a cacophony of sounds.  



Spiders spinning and weaving their webs drew and intricate design for me while I was sitting in the open air bath.



 In Aichi, Even the beetles board the trains, like there's no shame in being a beetle in a car full of humans.



Yuya is a sleepy little onsen town where retirees go to get away from the assault of noise fed by the cities.   Most, if not all, of the hot spring water is fresh and hot from a bubbling thermal brook somewhere in the deep valley.   I can still remember how lush and green everything is here.  



Just after the dusk, and just as the cicadas are finally settling in for the evening, i take one last look at the town and its houses.    There is nothing to do here but soak your bones....Just the way I like it.   No mobile phone zombies around.



Who needs daycare when momma can do it for free.   I thought this epidemic was a Kanto problem but looks like I was wrong.   Mommy and daddy are too busy working in the big cities, and not enough time and day-care centers to look after the kids.   The grandparent's work is never done.  

N.B. There are no express trains to Yuya, so be prepared to be lulled to sleep on the train ride there.  Bring snacks and beers and a Ghibli book to read and be prepared to be "spirited away."    If you do plan to stay here, I do recommend eating out on the town.  The boutique eateries are very charming and offer a lot of really rare fare that you cannot find in Nagoya.   Think eel but with a different spin.   Cheers.


Genshu




Raw undiluted sake is the brew masters dream put in bottle form, etched in Japanese calligraphy - Genshu.   Most sake you see on the market is diluted down and tweaked for taste by adding water and brewers alcohol; industry standard dictates that sake should be at around 15 to 16% alcohol.   The naked essence of sake fully matured will yield at around 20% or more of alcohol, the highest naturally occurring alcoholic beverage in the industry.



Basically, we don't want to get you too drunk in order to enjoy Japanese sake, and neither do we want to pay more tax because of higher than standard alcohol content in our beverage, so some compromises have to be made.   Genshu is rarely sold on a large scale, so whenever you have a chance to visit sake breweries in Japan do so, and try sake in its most natural form, especially undiluted sake.  
yellow caps and kikijokos and squeezers




Why travel all the way out to visit a brewery just for sake when I can either order online or buy at a store...?  Sake that has been bottled has additional carbon dioxide added again and has therefore been exposed to different pressure, temperature, and sunlight.    Bottles do offer some protection against UV, but not enough, and it's not like you would even notice a difference in the quality of the sake unless you were a purist... At this brewery ( won't list the name), I was sampling Genshu and although the sake was bottled and yellow-capped  for the tasting, they weren't sealed which means the sake was taken directly from the cold storage fermentation tanks and placed right on the table the morning I arrived there.   No finer sake poured fresh can ever be matched!  Over 100  types of genshu were sampled.


Another reason to visit breweries is to get away from the city.   Most great breweries are deep in the backwoods of Japan with only a few in micro urban cities.   I do not particularly like drinking with Tokyo types and folks who cannot hold their own alcohol, so I avoid crowded places.   Drink for taste,  not to get drunk.   Socializing as long as there is edification is good, not mindless chatter over meaningless topics.    On my most recent trip I was, and am always blessed to nomunicate with local Jukujo.

Genshu Lovely in her purity


Sake in its raw undiluted form is full of body and character, even the aromatics give off rare and alluring scents.   Lavender, flower water, acacia, some herbaceous notes here and there, just to name a few are what can be picked up from flute or a full bell-shaped wine glass.    Visually, Genshu is quite viscous with  long legs  stretching  down the side  of the glassware.   She's got a silky sheen and smooth all the way down and fully imbued with mysticism and religious aestheticism  of generations, it's this continuity of tradition that is reflected in every single living thing in Japan.



Keep in mind that Genshu is where it's at, and you need to try as much as you can while supplies last, at least so that you can experience that natural essence of the brew master's dream!





Followers

Follow by Email