For those of you who haven't read my previous articles on natural mineral water, I recommend taking a look at my Japan mineral water post and my Tenju post. This may help you get a good grasp of what I'm blogging about in this series.
"While writing this part, I was listening to "Place Where You Go to Listen" by John Luther Adams Ensemble."
In continuation from last week on water and nihonshu, I mentioned that I would take you to West Japan, to a place on the edge of eternity, not too long ago called Nara Prefecture. And in choosing this place, one where Shinto is revered and where people respect the master and his craft and their own gods and how that all relates to making nihonshu, then I would say West Japan for its water, Shinto, and nihonshu which have been tied into the creation and fermentation of this mystical Japanese rice brew for centuries.
("It has been hailed as god water by Shinto priest and Japanese scholars since time immemorial. No blog on sake would be complete without the inclusion of its water and rice")
"While writing this, I was listening to "Immortal City" by Trevor Morris."
Another reason why I chose to focus on Nara, as it was the ancient capital of Japan, the place where Japanese Shintoism was successfully merged with Buddhism, is because it's here that the Japanese achieved enlightenment and prosperity through the arts - literacy to be exact. This all occurred in spite of Buddhism being regarded as a foreign religion around that time in history. Present day Nara is a UNESCO World Heritage site, including other surrounding areas in this venerated mountainous region which is famed not only for its mineral water and shrines, but for it beautiful temples.
" While writing this, I was listening to "In the White Silence: Letter C" by Oberlin Contemporary Music Ensemble."
The water I chose to blog about today, along with its nihonshu, is called Gorogoro Mizu or ごろごろ水. If you have lived in the Kansai and Kinki regions of Japan then you should be familiar with this brand of mineral water. Just about all Japanese who live in these areas know of this water as being the freshest and most refreshing natural mineral water around.
The Ministry of Japan has approved Gorogoro water as "The Best 100 Japanese Waters and Best Hometown 34 Waters in Nara" It makes perfect sense as to why a brewer would use this water to make its nihonshu. In order to make really good nihonshu you need to use the very best ingredients.
" While writing this, I was listening to "A Breath of Fresh Air" by Ray Kelley Band."
Before writing this post I ordered a case for myself. I had to try it over a span of three days - I'm drinking some now. The more I drink it, day after day, the more I like it. I can't get enough of it. It so clean and refreshing.
From a geographical point of view, just to give you some perspective, the Nara region is a rectangular shaped land mass which is 78.5km from east to west and 103.6 km from north to south, so not so big when you put it all in perspective. And it's also located at the center of Japan's Honshu island which means that all roads lead here, like the old axiom " All Roads Lead to Rome."
While writing this, I was listening to "Shape Shifter" by Jerry Martin
The source of Gorogoro mizu(water) is located in the Yoshino-Kumano National Park, which was accredited as another World Cultural Heritage site in 2004. In this vast national park there's a mountain called Ōmine-san, a sacred mountain that has been revered for centuries as a holy place. And one of the few places in Japan where women are not allowed even still today. Ōmine-san is home to the Shugendo Sect of Japanese Buddhism, which is an ancient mix of old Shinto and Buddhist practices that place an emphasis on training towards enlightenment with the kami, or gods. This setting reminds me of another post I did about another mineral water source that's surrounded by temples and shrines, and is thus protected by the locals. Here
While writing this, I was listening to "Without Form" by Jerry Martin
In this vast mountainous region called Omine-san, there's a place called Tenkawa Village. In Japanese there's a word that goes something like this: 天然記念物( ten-en-kin-butsu), which means a protected national monument. It's from this monument that the Gorogoro mizu water springs from, like from some ancient well or something like that. I can almost imagine seeing water spewing forth out of it, cold clean water. As for the water itself the break down is as follows: pH 8.2, so it's full of alkali. Sodium is 2.41, calcium 33.8mg, magnesium 1.22mg, potassium 0.54mg.
While writing this, I was listening to "Rockin Down" by Walt Szalva
I was even surprised to find hard mineral compounds in this as well. Things like Germanium and Selenium. There are over 190mg/l of minerals in this bottle water. This could classify as a hard water, but it's not mainly because it lacks iron.
While writing this, I was listening to "Simmin" by Rock Hendricks
Drinking it at first it didn't seem like it was that mineral rich. It was just a very pleasant drinking experience. I used a classic water drinking glass from Riedel this time around.
While writing this, I was listening to "Welcome Home" by Trevor Morris
All and all this was some great water. I'd highly recommend it for someone who appreciates the most precious natural resource on earth. I sure as hell do.
Now, to the nihonshu. There are only a handful of select sake that use Gorogoro water to brew with, so after careful searching I found an off brand sake that hardly no one ever talks or knows about. The brewery is called Fujimura Shuzo in Nara Prefecture. This is one of, if not, the only brewer that uses gorogoro mizu for its water for brewing sake.
While writing this, I was listening to "City In a Box" by Trevor Morris
While writing this, I was listening to "The Planner's Promise" by Trevor Morris
In commemoration of the 1300th year anniversary of Heijo-Kyo, Fujimuro Shuzo created a sake just for this event. Heijyo-Kyo is the site of the true capital of Nara Prefecture and was where the late Emperor worked at unifying all of Japan. The nihonshu used has a picture of Manto-kun on it(deer), which is the official mascot of Nara Prefecture, by the way. Sento-Kun was replaced by popular demand by Manto-Kun.
This sake embodies the natural essence of its mineral water called "gorogoro mizu" along with a very hard textured rice grain called Fukuoka Nishi-Homare. In addition, this sake I am featuring is a Junmai-Ginjo, which means that no alcohol was added to it, just water and rice that's it. Fujimura Shuzo brews most of his sake using gorogoro mizu so this commemorative sake with mascot is just to help celebrate the 1300th year anniversary and is meant for entertainment purposes only.
I've been harping on about natural mineral water and sake and how they tie into making a great sake. I have mentioned in previous post that soft water is ideal for brewing sake whereas hard water is not. This is because hard water contains too much iron and manganese which discolor and downgrade a sake's overall quality and appearance. This is not a Golden Rule though. Like I've mentioned another time, some sake have used slightly harder water in making sake with a mild degree of discoloration. Sometimes this is a good quality and not necessarily a flaw....
While writing this, I was listening to "Magic City" by Jerry Martin
Sake is made up of about 80% to 90% water and all the way through the process of making sake, it's constantly being exposed to water. And then there's the rice.
The flavor profiles:
At first the smell was that of rice; nishi-homare to be exact, which will generally yield a milder taste and texture. Junmai sake types are all rice and water. Just as I expected upon the initial taste, soft and smooth. The nishi no homare and gorogoro-mizu together bring out something smooth, clean, and refreshing. This however, is not the type of sake you bring to a sake tasting competition though. This is the kind of sake you binge on. Nice rice after-taste, too. You hardly even notice a tail. For those who just want to appreciate the most simple balance between rice and pure mineral water then it doesn't get any better than this. Again, not a popular sake, but one that's worthy of being tried at least once. It's clean with a strong rice aroma.