Asia would not be what we know it to be without rice. The same goes for Japan and Mie Prefecture in the Kansai region of southern Honshu, Japan’s biggest Island. The rice wine “Sake” is in people’s blood and soul. It is made according to centuries of tradition by people who care more about quality, tradition and spirituality than most Michelin chefs I ́ve ever met.
Sake or saké is very special Japanese beverage made from fermented rice that has been polished by special methods and the degree of polishing makes a huge difference in the outcome. It normally contains about 18% to 20% alcohol and is most of the time only made with rice, water and “koji” mold. Sometimes there is also added alcohol. There are thousands of different types of sake in Japan. Some are meant to be served hot and others cold.
The most special one is the sake that goes to offering tray of the famous Ise Shrine. It is still made largely by the same methods as the rice wine makers ancestors did throughout history. Yes, some of the wood barrels have been replaced by stainless steel tanks, but the method and the spirituality is still the same. And modernity also changed something that was just done as a part of regular food production in the town of Aoyama-cho into a business when the Wakabis Brewery was established in 1853. A time of turmoil and opening of the then closed Japanese society.
The local “Toji”, or master brewers, have managed to build one of the most respected Saki breweries in Japan, and brew one of the best Sake that I have encountered in my many travels in Japan. In reality, suitable for gods. Kudos to brew master Hisahiro Shigefuji and his people!