In early February, I was able to experience sake brewing at Taniguchi Sake Brewery in "Jakuchu" in the Tango region of Kyoto.
Sake making now takes place during the cold months of February and March.Taniguchi Sake Brewery was in the midst of their busy brewing process, and I was able to visit them and catch a glimpse of their essence.We will keep you posted with pictures and videos as much as possible.
Please note that this article was written by Tomoyoshi, a staff member, not Takami, the representative.
I arrived in Kyoto by Shinkansen on February 4th, when the days were relatively warm.Still, I felt the cold compared to the city center.For the Tango region, head north toward Amanohashidate by express bus from here.
From Kyoto to Tango, I was able to see the sea near Amanohashidate on the way.
Proceed further from Amanohashidate Station.
Then, take a local bus to Yosano Town.It's sunny, but there is still snow.
Then I came to Yosano-cho where Taniguchi Sake Brewery makes sake.
The air was cool and pure, and I felt that I had come to a place far away from the city.
If you look around, you can see the mountains that look like the Oeyama mountain range.
The groundwater that originates from Mt. Oe flows cleanly and supplies abundant water, which is the life of sake.Taniguchi Sake Brewery's sake is made from this underground water.
Please take a look at the video about the surroundings of Taniguchi Sake Brewery.The first day was sunny.Days like this seem to be rarer in the San'in region.
Taniguchi Sake Brewery has been brewing sake since 1871 in Yosano-cho, Kyoto Prefecture, in the Tango region of Kyoto Prefecture.The representative brand is Junmai Daiginjo “Jakuchu”.The name "Jakuchu" comes from the fact that Nobu Taniguchi, the representative of Taniguchi Sake Brewery, owns a hanging scroll of ink painting by Ito Jakuchu, an artist who was active in Kyoto in the middle of the Edo period.The ink painting of the dragon is incorporated into the package of Japanese sake "Jakuchu".This Junmai Daiginjo "Jakuchu" is available at our shop "Treasured Sake".
When I arrived, the sake rice had just been washed and steamed.Sake rice used for sake is steamed, not boiled.The next step is to make rice koji.
After steaming the rice, the rice is being transferred to the koji room.
In many cases, we are not allowed to see the koji room to prevent the contamination of various bacteria, but this time, Taniguchi Sake Brewery kindly allowed us to see it.In the koji room, koji is applied to the steamed rice, the temperature is controlled, and the rice is left to rest.
The room temperature is kept at about 30℃, and there is a big difference between the room temperature inside the koji room and the room temperature outside.It means that some people get sick from going in and out.
On the other hand, shubo is maturing.
When I looked at it with my hand and smelled it, it had a nice, faintly sweet scent.
Junmai Daiginjo “Jakuchu” is the representative sake of Taniguchi Shuzo.
In addition, there are junmai ginjo and junmai sake "Tango Kingdom".
"Tango Kingdom" was also lined up in the local supermarket.
Sake was displayed at the entrance of the brewery.
Seeing the beautifully packaged sake made with all my heart and soul is deeply moving.
Originally, Taniguchi Sake Brewery made a brand of sake called Shibanoi.
The exterior of the brewery also says “Shiba no I”.Originally, we used ``Yamada Nishiki'' for the sake rice, but since it is a local sake, we wanted to use local rice, so we decided to use ``Iwai'' from Kyoto.After repeated research, he created "Tango Kingdom" and "Jakuchu".
Junmai Daiginjo “Jakuchu” won the Gold Award in 2019 and the Platinum Award in 2022 at the Milan Sake Challenge held in Italy, and the package won the Best Design Award.
This time, although it was only for a few days, what I realized after helping out sake brewing was that it was a lot of hard work.First, in koji making, I wake up many times in the middle of the night to check the temperature and humidity.You need to carry heavy rice, move tanks, and prepare tools.Anything that comes into contact with your hands, or even the rice itself, is carefully and repeatedly sterilized.Such work is done in the coldest season of the Tango region.
Knowing the hardships and delicacy of sake brewing, the sake I drank was exceptional.
Say hello to the Shinto altar and proceed to the Koji room.
Check the temperature of the rice koji by waking up in the middle of the night.
Serious work continues.
Celebration rice suitable for sake brewing is fermented into rice koji.
I check the condition of the rice again and again.Loosen up any sticky rice.
Cover it with a white cloth to prevent it from drying out, and check the temperature many times.
In the meantime, the shubo continued to ferment, filling the tank with a rich, fruity aroma.
At night, Mr. Taniguchi, his wife, Takamin, and Tomoyoshi sat around the dining table and had a few drinks.I have work to do after that, so it's time to take a break.I am truly grateful that I was able to enjoy the “Tango Kingdom” locally, eating local cuisine such as oysters, pickled Chinese cabbage, and hot pot.
The next day, we cleaned, disinfected, and washed the tools as much as time allowed.
The sunny weather on the first day became cloudy and it started to rain.It was a very cold day, but as I worked hard, I forgot about the cold.
This is the end of my sake brewing experience.
From now on, the process will proceed to preparation, and it will be the process of making moromi.
The rice koji and shubo become one.
This sake is Junmai Daiginjo “Jakuchu”.Completion is expected in mid-March.Since sake is a living thing, it often happens that things do not go according to plan due to natural conditions, and it is not possible to know the exact date by which it will be completed.I'm looking forward to the day when I can drink the sake I helped.
Before the final day, we took a commemorative photo.
Mr. Toru Taniguchi, representative of Taniguchi Sake Brewery, was very helpful.
Also, I would like to take this opportunity to thank my wife for the delicious home-cooked meals and for welcoming me so warmly in such a difficult time.
Next month, I think it will be possible to deliver "Jakuchu" to everyone reading this article.We hope that you will look forward to the new sake of "Jakuchu" and "Tango Kingdom".
On the way back, I took a bus to Fukuchiyama Station and crossed the mountain.
Looking at the Oeyama mountain range, I left Tango with regrets.