My first year in Japan I was invited to dinner by a lovely Japanese girl who was living in Ebina. I remember the train pulling up to the station that evening at around 6pm. She was waiting for me near the station gate with her kid sister all bright eyed. After greeting we walked for about 20 minutes to her house, and as we were walking I was immediately impressed at all the rice fields we had passed by. She mentioned that a lot of people either buy or grow their own rice locally, which is a plus actually. Know that I am the enemy of globalization and think it's bad bad bad.... Anyway, I enjoyed our little stroll together. After meeting the parents and having dinner we talked and shared photos together. We had a great time.
After leaving, I was seen off at the station. After they returned home I hung around a bit. In Kanagawa there are few places that can blend both urban and country landscapes beautifully. Ebina is such a city. With a sprawling population of roughly a quarter million
Ebina stands at the crossroads of modernization, blending the finer elements of rural life with urban convenience. The people here love being able to go to Tokyo for shopping, an hour by train, or head over to Yokohama, and then back to their rural plots all in the same day. So what is it about this city that's really intriguing? The women are charming, and the sake is good, which is a rarity from this part of Japan. Ebina girl – simple, charming, and beautiful like the sake.
The oldest ruins of this city date back as far as 30,000 years ago, the Stone Age. But, that's not that significant. What is though is a particular temple called Sagami Kokubunji, which was constructed by order of Emperor Shomu who also ordered the creation of the great temples of Nara, the Mecca and spiritual center of Buddhism in Japan, where both of the oldest and most venerated religions in Japan were fused; Shintoism and Buddhism. Fusion, harmony, marriage at its finest, which brings me to the sake I want to introduce. No, it's not from my sakeswap partner. Not yet.
Izumibashi, produced and bottled in Ebina, in Kanagawa prefecture, a part of Japan not known for producing good sake. Boy, were they wrong and right at the same time. First, though, I'd like to mention a little about the rice. The rice used to make this sake is a fusion of rice cultivated from several rice fields around Ebina, including Yamadanishiki,Omachi, and Kameno-o rice. In the end, the final creation is called Ebinagochi. Quite a few bars and liquor stores sell Izumibashi, so it's very easy to get. Come and enjoy the local flavor. Flavor characteristics are very simple: low impact, clean, soft tail, lightly fragrant, amber in color, kuchi-atari a bit sour. It's a junmai and is curiously delicious and quite popular in this area. Again, it's the fusion of various elements and minds that make this sake so great.