Skip to main content

From the Desk of The Soul of Japan: Doburoko!

I have been on a roll this month.  Sake and onsen events kept the good times rolling.   Good "Nomunication" and fading memories the next day.   Finally had a chance to enjoy "doburoku"  in Kawabata's Snow Country.   Doburoku is an unrefined common mans' alcoholic beverage, or homebrew as some would call it.   Sort of like the moonshine of the U.S.A., in that they are both  illegal to make at home, and are cheap in comparison to more refined alcoholic beverages like premium rice brews and Bourbons.  Anything refined and aged equals expensive, especially for farmers and common folks living in the countryside.   

Centuries ago, Japanese sake was  used in shinto rites, weddings, and imperial coronations.   In short, sake was made for the gods and unless you were a shinto priest you were not allowed to drink it.   However, doboroku was considered crude and drinkable by mere mortals, in other words, affordable and relatively easy to make and enjoy without getting too drunk.

Link to my favorite sake in the pic:

Doburoku, in my opinion, is the father of Japanese rice brewed alcohol, its crude cousin, or whatever you would like to call it.   Some may even consider it more related to Nigorizake, the psuedo - pino colada variant of America's popular cocktails with coconuts, only without the coconut.     Doboroku is a drink that can be enjoyed for its sometimes tart and cloying sweetness, and its laxative  benefits!   So if you work the next day, call in and stay home.   People tend to binge on this crude rice beverage without thinking about the side effects it will have the next day, thanks to the lactic acid and other enzymes that promote good digestion.   Please do  not confuse doburoku with amazake, which looks identical to Nigorizake - cloudy sake with leftover unfermented sake rice solids.   The only difference is that Amazake has 0% alcohol, and is more suitable for kids and teetotalers.   In winter, amazake is served hot!   In the picture below, I used an empty beer can; a tefal hot water pot to heat the doburoku.   You can really enjoy the full range of flavors with different temperature.

How does doburoku taste?

It's an acquired taste for starters.   Some, upon first sip, will instantly grimace at the sourness in some doburoku.   You will get all sorts of flavors ranging from too sweet, to too sour, and acidic.   What I prefer is sweet, smooth, and creamy like the ladies in my doboroku.  Some doburoku still have actively fermenting yeast even when bottled, so in such a case you will get a gassy carbonated taste.   

How does it look?

It's milky coloured and often very thick and creamy.   Some doburoku drink smoothly while others are  pressed or filtered and  have bits of rice in them making it a little rough on the palate.   Some doboroku are pink or even french vanilla yellow to appeal to females who want something a little more delicate with hints of fruit or banana.    The single most pronounced flavors I get with really good doboroku is green apple!   

What is doboroku?

The simplest definition would be Japanese sake, not murky nihonshu,  that is half brewed where the yeast is stopped half way through the fermenting process.   True sake is sake where the yeast has fully matured during the fermenting process, and this lends the clean delicate flavors of  real "seishu" with the proper amount of alcohol produced during fermentation.   Doboroku is generally lower in alcohol than sake and is cloudy and thick like a milkshake.   

What is the difference between "Doburoku" and "Nigorizake"?

Doburoku is unfiltered and unpasteurized whereas nigorizake is slightly or roughly filtered and pasteurized, there are also some variants to this as well depending on the brewer.    Another thing to remember, is that under Japanese Sake tax laws doburoku cannot be considered "nihonshu" or real sake.   Instead, it is just referred to as an alcoholic beverage.   

Which is better?

If you want to really get a taste of rough and unrefined go with traditional doburoku.   Nigorizake, while similar in a lot of aspects as its cousin, will be a bit easier on the palate, and with a lot more identifiable flavor profiles.  

Where can I buy it?

It's seasonal whereas nigorizake can be bought year-round.   Generally between November and December is when you can buy really good doburoku.  From October through to April is the best times to be enjoying Japanese nihonshu in general, but for doboroku between November and December is best, this is mainly because they are limited in quantity.    Mostly Japanese people in their 70s and 80s drink doburoku, and this is for medical reasons.   

Food pairings?

Doboroku works well with offal type dishes and organ foods like squid guts and odd fish parts that are salty and slimey.  

What regions of Japan do you recommend I go to for doboroku?

Miyazaki, Yamagata, and Niigata Prefectures - my own preference.


Popular posts from this blog

Do Japanese Women Feel Uncomfortable in Bathing Suits?

Unless you have been to Japan, and have frequented its many beaches, you really do not know. The junk press rarely gets it right. I am here to tell you that Japanese women wear it and bare it all here. They wear thongs, t-backs, two pieces, and one piece. For the most part, they are not ashamed. Surveys that claim otherwise may be focusing on a very limited group of women, and that also includes the pathological liars who have no idea whether they are telling the truth or not.

In Western societies like the U.S.A., we are a nation of fat people with anorexic standards. We promote junk food and overnight diet fads that wind up making us fatter and less healthy. Americans remember the weight loss drug  "fin fin, " we remember the claims it made about weight loss and the subsequent disastrous side-effects. Japanese women in general avoid drug use of any kind for weight loss. They tend to focus more on either starving themselves, or eating healthier food in very limited quantit…

Shin-Okubo: Little Korea

So I finally got around to going up there to Shin-Okubo,  the land of Seoul via the Yamanote Line.  Been putting this trip off for years for personal reasons;  I am not a fan of Hanlleyu.      I knew why I came up this way, and for none other reason than the food, and maybe to bask in the nausea of Korean romanticist who steal Japanese Jukujo's souls.    But honestly, I like spicy food and stews and pickled vegetables that challenge my taste buds.    I also love the little funky cafes that line the main thoroughfares and alley ways, each with their own little eclectic menus and interior decor.     This place is Korea.  

Shin-Okuba represents more than just a place to relish in Korean culinary delights and K-pop culture, but a place where Koreans can express themselves through their culture.    You can feel the local vibe in the air as you're walking down narrow walkways and footpaths.    I have personally been to mainland Korea six times, so a lot of the nostalgia was there …

Japanese Girls: A Sex(quisition)

While writing this, I was listening to "Going Through Changes" by Eminem

No, I haven't lost any love for momma, Japanese Jukujo that is, and yes, I do have a special place in my heart for young Japanese women, too. 

But then....then I glance over and there's a momma, a delectable Japanese Jukujo momma.  Fully rounded, and fully figured and fair healthy skinned.  Full fine silky muff fujii mounds. 

From this point I feel I need to qualify my remarks more thoroughly, though, especially when referencing women in general.   Firstly, it cannot be denied that there are beautiful women all over the world and from a variety of different backgrounds.  Women are people. However, in this essay I would like to take it a little further.

For me, living in Japan I have created a world unto myself so to speak.  I believe that some people create reasons for doing things, more so than there actually being a real need for doing said things, while others drift along accepting any an…