It’s time for me to shift from winter mode to spring mode. I know it’s a bit late for that. It’s also time for me to introduce yet another sake, a food item, and a lovely Jukujo too. Leading into spring mode I want my readers to understand from my own perspective what I consider the most beautiful elements in Japan, but let me not get ahead of myself either, let me take this post one step at a time.
First of all, Japan without Shinto, the indigenous religion of this country, isn’t Japan. And with that in mind I’d like to introduce one of my favorites goddesses. Her name is Ame-no-Uzume-no-mikoto. She is known in Shinto lore as the goddess of dawn and revelry. She is worshiped today as the Great Persuader, and The Heavenly Alarming Female. She’s also a woman who revels in her sensuality. This is a beautiful Kami, by the way. Nihonshu and Shinto go hand in hand. You can’t have Shinto without the nihonshu, and vise versa
The nihonshu listed below is called Oze no Shimizu. It’s a rare jizake from northern Gunma.
This is by far not a famous brand, but a modest and worthy sake best enjoyed while sitting in a hot spring on a snowy day with a Jukujo goddess. It’s not the featured sake for tonight though, just a lead up from winter to spring, so farewell winter and thank you for the warm and fond memories. I thank the goddesses for Sami and such other wonderful experiences.
Tonight’s featured sake is called Gikyo!
And she hails from Aichi Prefecture, home of the Samurai Spirit and birth place of Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Tokugawa Ieyasu, and the final resting place of Hideki Tojo.
The Brewery is called Yamachu Honke 山忠本家
The Brand is called Gikyo 義侠
Product: Jyunmai Nama Genshu. 純米生原酒
Varietal: Gohyakumangoku (五百万石）Grown and harvested in Toyama prefecture.
Year: 21BY Harvested 2009
Polished Ratio 60%
When it comes to flavor profiles, in order to keep things simple, remember, those who like a sake with strong rice flavor characteristics generally go for Jyunmai. This sake “Gikyo” hits the nail right on the head. It has one of the best rice notes of all the sake I have tried in recent memory. Mellow, sexy, and round. Full taste, well matured to the max! And you know what’s coming next….Yes. You guessed it baby. A Jukujo pic! But before that, let me leave you with this. 90% of all of my sake choices were carefully researched and backed by other experts. Some were award winning picks while others were just personal favorites. Gikyo one such sake that is receiving big attention some parts of Japan.
Hailing from Okayama Prefecture another beauty to behold, Shimura Reiko and she’s 38 years old. I chose her, like this sake, because they both come from West Japan.
From personal experience I have been to Okayama, and have met both young and old people. Even some of my clients are from this prefecture and many of them have told me that women from West Japan tend to wear heavier make up than other prefectures. This is fine with me as long as its done well. It’s done well on these women, and then some.
She notices the smallest detail, like with the pink cherry blossom in her hands. Spring starts like that, small, unassuming, delicate, and gently stoking the flames of passion. Could she be Ame-no-Uzume in the flesh? Her perspiration is sake. Happy rock which she sits upon. That hard object.
The final element or the fourth beautiful essence is food, but not just anything. It’s called Izumibashi’s Daiginjyo Miso! Yes, a sake brewery made this miso.
The dragonfly mark on the package symbolizes the brewers efforts towards growing farm products with reduced amounts of agricultural chemicals. By reducing the use of agricultural chemicals the natural environment can be restored to its natural balance which in turn will restore the population of the dragonfly that had once inhabited the rice fields there.
The soybeans used for this miso are called Tsukui Zairai soybeans. Zairai meaning” the native variety,” this soybean is a local breed of Tsukui, Kanagawa. The other ingredient: Yamadanishi, is the premium sake rice varietal used for the koji( a kind of mold on boiled rice); a starter for the fermentation of sake, soy sauce, and miso. What distinguishes this miso from others is that no other producer makes the koji in such a careful manner, especially with adherence to sanitary conditions. This miso was made with the utmost care and attention to detail which explains why it’s so delicate and natural tasting.
Gods and Goddesses eat, drink, and be merry. Humans, on the other hand, still struggle to find the connect with this. It could be a human flaw. For me it’s got to be Shinto, Jukujo, Nihonshu, good Japanese food and onsen. These are the five greatest elements of Japan.