Eel-and-Beverage Pairings

Featured

fooduniversity.org This is the fifth entry in our series on eels. Here we briefly consider two beverages that are thought to go well with Unagi no Kabayaki—nihon-shu and beer. There are some rules,…or guidelines,…or, wait a minute,...perhaps the best word to use here is suggestions as to what drinks complement which foods. A common assumption … Continue reading Eel-and-Beverage Pairings

By-Product and Must-Buy-Product

Featured

fooduniversity.org The Frog and the Eel, Haiku Meets Haute Cuisine This is the fourth installment of our series on eel. Unagipie A successful by-product of the eel business in Hamamatsu is unagipie. This is a cookie-like confection that has become a must-buy-product for many visitors to the city. It is made by Shunkado, which was … Continue reading By-Product and Must-Buy-Product

Hamamatsu and His Highness the Eel: Geography

Featured

fooduniversity.org As we saw in the first installment of this series, in Japan eel is almost exclusively prepared in the Kabayaki style and is closely associated with summer. Geographically speaking, it has very strong links to Hamamatsu, a city in Shizuoka Prefecture. From a gastronomic perspective, there is much that can be said about the … Continue reading Hamamatsu and His Highness the Eel: Geography

Eel Elision Is a Bad Decision: Introduction

Featured

fooduniversity.org Over the next few weeks Drinking Japan will be running a series on eels.  We have much to say about this subject and feel that putting it all in one blog entry may be too much to digest in the heat of the summer and early autumn. Summer heat, of course, is one reason … Continue reading Eel Elision Is a Bad Decision: Introduction

Featured

Asia University Beer: Hops Harvesting

The Cones Asia University is a medium-sized tertiary institution located in western Tokyo. It is about thirty minutes from Shinjuku Station via the Chuo Line. There are many noteworthy things about this school, and soon there will be another—Asia University Beer. Drinking Japan is involved in this project and will be uploading another entry when … Continue reading Asia University Beer: Hops Harvesting

Perhaps Two of the World’s Most Popular Distillery Tours: Suntory’s Hakushu & Yamazaki Distilleries

Featured

In early 2020 we had reserved a Hakushu Distillery tour. As we remember all too well, that was the year the world changed. In Japan, we entered a state of emergency - people were urged to stay home; restaurants were forced to close early and stop serving alcohol; traveling across borders was discouraged; and many … Continue reading Perhaps Two of the World’s Most Popular Distillery Tours: Suntory’s Hakushu & Yamazaki Distilleries

Mikan Wine: A Summer Thing

Featured

At this time of year—summer’s epicenter, so to speak—most people prefer to keep thing’s light and uncomplicated, opting for such intellectually unchallenging fare as Sharktopus (2010)—no, it’s not about a certain American financial-services company, though it could be—or chilling out with musical mundanities like Percy Faith’s rendition of “A Summer Place.” Personally, this writer prefers … Continue reading Mikan Wine: A Summer Thing

Of Cranes, Swans, and Fortuna

Featured

This is the fifth installment in our JFEX2022 series. This week we feature a product from Izumi Syuzou Co., Ltd. (出水酒造株式会社] — Fortuna shochu. THE WILD SWANS AT COOLE … Unwearied still, lover by lover, They paddle in the cold, Companionable streams or climb the air; Their hearts have not grown old; Passion or conquest, wander … Continue reading Of Cranes, Swans, and Fortuna

Oishi Shuzo Distillery’s (大石酒造) Kashi (樫): Small Is Beautiful and Wood Is Wonderful

Featured

This is the fourth installment in our JFEX2022 series. This week we feature a shochu from a distillery in Akune City, Kagoshima—Oishi Shuzo Distillery (大石酒造). Some of our readers may be familiar with The New York Times bestseller Small Is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered1; others may have delved into The Breakdown of Nations2 … Continue reading Oishi Shuzo Distillery’s (大石酒造) Kashi (樫): Small Is Beautiful and Wood Is Wonderful

Kagatsuru Kaga Tea Sake (加賀鶴: 加賀紅茶の酒): Terrific

Featured

This is the third installment in our JFEX2022 series. This week we feature a product from Yachiya Shuzo, an award-winning kura in Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture. We will confine our comments to only one of their outstanding products—their unique Tea Sake. We encourage our readers to explore their other offerings, as well. Twinkle, twinkle, little bat!How … Continue reading Kagatsuru Kaga Tea Sake (加賀鶴: 加賀紅茶の酒): Terrific

Lovevados Apple Brandy: Yes, We Would Love a Dose!

Featured

This is the second installment in our JFEX2022 series. The exhibition was held at Tokyo Big Sight in June. The event featured 452 exhibitors and attracted 18,848 industry buyers. This week we focus on an apple brandy called “Lovevados.” The Japanese are rather fond of portmanteau words (e.g., spoon + fork = spork). Lovevados has … Continue reading Lovevados Apple Brandy: Yes, We Would Love a Dose!

Beverages in Sketches: NOT Sketchy Beverages

Featured

Recently we found ourselves ensconced at a popular resort--Hoshino Resorts Risonare Yatsugatake--that featured a number of local wines encased in one of those coin-operated tasting contraptions. We dutifully fed our shekels into the machine’s many maws and received a few drops of wine in return, barely enough for a full analysis, but we persevered. Below … Continue reading Beverages in Sketches: NOT Sketchy Beverages

Macho (マッチョ): A Good Name for a Good Drink

Featured

Oosakazuki Macho Yamada Nishiki 80 (大盃マッチョ 山田錦 80) from Makino Shuzo (牧野酒造) Nectar, n. A drink served at banquets of the Olympian deities. The secret of its preparation is lost, but the modern Kentuckians believe that they come pretty near to a knowledge of its chief ingredient. –The Devil’s Dictionary, Ambrose Bierce In the above definition … Continue reading Macho (マッチョ): A Good Name for a Good Drink

Kinryo Sanuki Olive Yeast(金陵 オリーブ酵母 純米吟醸)

Featured

When you think olives, you might picture the Mediterranean - Italy, Greece or Spain. But lo and behold, there is also a part of Japan that is well known for olives - Kagawa Prefecture, which is located on Shikoku, Japan's fourth major island. Olive yeast was co-discovered by the Kagawa Prefectural Sake Brewer’s Association and … Continue reading Kinryo Sanuki Olive Yeast(金陵 オリーブ酵母 純米吟醸)

Sekizen Junmai Ginjo Sakura-no-hana-kobo (積善 純米吟醸 桜の花酵母)

Featured

The cherry blossom season has come and gone. We have already enjoyed the perfect sake (at least visually) for the season, the one that uses a special red yeast or sekishokukobo (赤色酵母). Please see here for more details. There is another sake that is closely associated with cherry blossoms, i.e., sake made with sakura flower … Continue reading Sekizen Junmai Ginjo Sakura-no-hana-kobo (積善 純米吟醸 桜の花酵母)

A refreshing summer beverage: Awa-no-Kaori Sudachi-chu (阿波の香り すだち酎)

Featured

In a previous post we discussed the two main types of shochu--korui shochu (甲類焼酎) and otsurui shochu (乙類焼酎). In addition to these varieties, there is also Okinawan Awamori (泡盛), which is a topic for another post. This week we would like to focus on a product from Tokushima Prefecture called Awa-no-Kaori Sudachi-chu (阿波の香り すだち酎. Like … Continue reading A refreshing summer beverage: Awa-no-Kaori Sudachi-chu (阿波の香り すだち酎)

“The Other Day I Met a Bear”: 59 Takachiyo Mori-no-kumasan (たかちよ 森のくまさん)

Featured

During the Golden Week holiday, which is a week-long hiatus from the daily grind in Japan and runs from late April to early May, we went hiking on Mt. Mitake. Mt. Mitake is a medium-sized mountain with beautiful trails and is only two hours from central Tokyo. For our picnic at the top of the … Continue reading “The Other Day I Met a Bear”: 59 Takachiyo Mori-no-kumasan (たかちよ 森のくまさん)

Noguchi Naohiko Sake Institute Junmai Muroka Namagenshu 2020 Vintage (純米無濾過生原酒)

Featured

Who is Noguchi Naohiko, and why is the brewery called a kenkyujyo (研究所), which means "laboratory" or "institute"? Noguchi Naohiko is a toji, or master sake brewer, from the noto (能登) school. Noto toji is a school of sake-making that originated on the Noto Peninsula in Ishikawa Prefecture, one of many schools of toji that … Continue reading Noguchi Naohiko Sake Institute Junmai Muroka Namagenshu 2020 Vintage (純米無濾過生原酒)

“Chestnuts roasting on an open fire”: Dabada Hiburi (ダバダ火振) Chestnut Shochu

Featured

We at drinkingjapan.org fully understand that chestnuts are not a symbol of spring and that it would be seasonally inappropriate to sing this song in April. However, we are passionate about chestnuts and would like to take this opportunity to introduce a wonderful and somewhat rare type of shochu made with the Japanese chestnut, kuri … Continue reading “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire”: Dabada Hiburi (ダバダ火振) Chestnut Shochu

Perfect for Breakfast? Yogurt Liqueur from Asama Farm (浅間のヨーグルト酒)

Featured

Moo-ve over, eggnog: there’s a new milk-based alcoholic beverage in town! Kusatsu onsen is considered one of Japan’s top three hot springs. Even if you have never visited this place, you have likely seen images like this: Yubatake Or this: Netsunoyu When driving to Kusatsu from Tokyo, you can drive past the Asamashuzo Tourism Center … Continue reading Perfect for Breakfast? Yogurt Liqueur from Asama Farm (浅間のヨーグルト酒)

Tickled Pink: Atagonomatsu Harukoi Junmai Ginjo (あたごのまつ はるこい 純米吟醸)

Featured

As winter fades into spring, one can enjoy the various expressions of the color pink, starting with plum blossoms, which are often darker, and later cherry blossoms, or sakura. As sakura blossoms are in bloom for a very short time, they are a symbol of mortality and rebirth--the ephemeral nature of existence given a positive … Continue reading Tickled Pink: Atagonomatsu Harukoi Junmai Ginjo (あたごのまつ はるこい 純米吟醸)

Wakaze, a Very French Sake

Featured

French sake might have been an oxymoron in the recent past, but for those familiar with the concept of terroir, the two words (i.e., “French” and “sake”) constitute a harmonious whole. Terroir is that wonderful term for the influence that local conditions have on a wine. Wiktionary defines it thus: “The complete set of local … Continue reading Wakaze, a Very French Sake

Bijofu Uchushinkaishu Junmai Ginjo (美丈夫 宇宙深海酒 純米吟醸): It Went Up and It Went Down and Should Be Drunk All Around

Featured

Davy Jones' Locker, John Tenniel This week we soar into the firmament and then plunge into the deep to snatch this drink from Davy Jones’s Locker, but first a little history. In the heady days that were 1969 one of us was in a rather famous bar in a large city on the night of … Continue reading Bijofu Uchushinkaishu Junmai Ginjo (美丈夫 宇宙深海酒 純米吟醸): It Went Up and It Went Down and Should Be Drunk All Around

Nishibori Shuzo:

Featured

19th-Century Kura, 21st-Century Innovation On a fine winter morning we caught a train to Oyama City, Tochigi Prefecture. A meandering city bus took us from the train station to our destination, Nishibori Shuzo, and to our appointment with Tetsuya Nishibori, the Sixth Generation Kuramoto (brewery owner). Only a short hour and a half from Shinjuku … Continue reading Nishibori Shuzo:

Oosakazuki Oke 53 Gou (大盃 桶53号) Number 53: Fill In the Other Eye

Featured

Takasaki is a city in Gunma Prefecture. It is famous for being the birthplace of the Daruma doll. For those unfamiliar with this interesting, Humpty-Dumptyesque object that never falls and the custom surrounding its use, we have included a picture above and will provide a brief explanation. Distilled down to its very essence, the Daruma … Continue reading Oosakazuki Oke 53 Gou (大盃 桶53号) Number 53: Fill In the Other Eye

Fujizakura Heights (富士桜高原麦酒 ラオホ) Rauch: Smoke Gets in Your Nose

Featured

We were reminded recently of that old song “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” (1933). Yes, it is a bit of an irritant when it creeps into your peepers, but when it meanders up your nose, as it does with this beer, it is not unappealing. This drink has an almost peaty aroma, which is not … Continue reading Fujizakura Heights (富士桜高原麦酒 ラオホ) Rauch: Smoke Gets in Your Nose

Featured

Yamaso Hop from Minamishinshu Beer (Komagatake Brewery): A Pleasant Pastiche

The third definition of the word pastiche as given by Wiktionary is “an incongruous mixture; a hodgepodge.” Hodgepodge has negative connotations for most speakers of English, as it conjurers up images of motion-picture monstrosities such as Sharktopus (2010) and culinary crimes al la kitchen-sink succotash. But wait…the word can also refer to the sublime syllabub … Continue reading Yamaso Hop from Minamishinshu Beer (Komagatake Brewery): A Pleasant Pastiche

Animal Kingdom Safari Park Special Reserve (Red)

Featured

Enthusiastic Wolf We at drinkingjapan.org are always open to new experiences. Recently, we decided to spend some time with the animals—no, not the Black Friday sales crowd! Sensing the need for a little rustication, we got up off our old rusty-dusties and traveled to Gunma Prefecture to visit Gunma Safari Park safari.co.jp. In addition to … Continue reading Animal Kingdom Safari Park Special Reserve (Red)

Valentine’s Day Special: Cupid, Draw Back Your Bow and Let the Chocolate Flow

Featured

Creator: George Cruikshank (creator); Date: n.d.; Material: etching “…Aphrodite (Venus)…was…playing with her little boy Eros (Cupid). He is one of the children in mythology who never grows up [sounds like at least one of us here at drinkingjapan.org] and never grows any wiser [here she must be talking about your average politician]. He carries about … Continue reading Valentine’s Day Special: Cupid, Draw Back Your Bow and Let the Chocolate Flow

Fukagawa Winery’s TOKYO 2021 Orange Sparkling: The Color or the Fruit?

Featured

Fukagawa Winery’s TOKYO 2021 Orange Sparkling Ah, orange, that’s an interesting word. It can refer to that narcissistic color that demands attention in nearly any setting in which it is encountered or to the fruit produced in such sunny climes as Florida or Valencia. The English language did not start to employ it in its … Continue reading Fukagawa Winery’s TOKYO 2021 Orange Sparkling: The Color or the Fruit?

Takao Beer Co.’s Fruited Session IPA

Featured

Located within Tokyo-to, there is a mountain named Takao. It is a popular destination for hikers and nature lovers. The significant climb to the summit offers its rewards in the form of a spectacular view, a very popular restaurant, and a small shrine. Shrine at Summit of Mt. Takao The ascent has its own rewards, … Continue reading Takao Beer Co.’s Fruited Session IPA

Kisaki (后): The Queen and Other Members of the Royal Family

Featured

Tasting at Iwai Omotesando Tasting Some Kisaki Offerings; Queen on the Right Interesting and Appropriate Pairings As mentioned in an earlier entry, we were invited to the Kisaki Reception in Aoyoma, which was held on November 26, 2021. Iwai Omotesando, the venue, is comfortable and attractive, making it the ideal place for sampling the exceptional … Continue reading Kisaki (后): The Queen and Other Members of the Royal Family

SAYS Farm Cidre 2018: Capture the Sparkle Now!

Featured

This week we turn our attention to Himi, Toyama Prefecture. Now, some of you may be asking yourselves, “Where is that?” Well, we trust that after you read this entry and try the beverage under review you will forever remember the name “Himi” and this outstanding cider produced by SAYS FARM.  First, we will answer … Continue reading SAYS Farm Cidre 2018: Capture the Sparkle Now!

Featured

“No!” Is Yes This Year

No park—no ring—no afternoon gentility—        No company—no nobility—No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,   No comfortable feel in any member—No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds,        November!1 The excerpt above is from “No!,” a poem by the regrettably oft-overlooked English poet Thomas Hood (1799-1845). In this short work the poet … Continue reading “No!” Is Yes This Year

Senkin: Craft Sake Opus from Australia

Featured

Senkin is a sake brewery located in Sakura-shi, Tochigi Prefecture. The prefecture is perhaps best known for being the location of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Nikko. However, to some people, like one of us here at drinkingjapan.org, the area in and around Nikko appears to be the annual epicenter for the release of … Continue reading Senkin: Craft Sake Opus from Australia

Okuizumo Vineyards: “To Boldly Go Where No Man Has Gone Before”

Featured

That opening line from the first season (1966) of that seemingly unending series known as Star Trek has long been a source of irritation for schoolmarms, pedants with way too much time on their hands, and free-floating cranks. Of course, there is nothing wrong with using a split infinitive now and again! Today, the schoolmarms … Continue reading Okuizumo Vineyards: “To Boldly Go Where No Man Has Gone Before”

Okunota BaileyZZANTE 2016: A Traditional Method Masterpiece

Featured

Anticipating the Pop Some readers of this blog will recall the days when overseas diners would approach a plate of sushi with trepidation, fearing that its consumption might bring on—just to be a tad slangy here—the runs…or worse. Today, as we all know, sushi has gone international, and in some of its wilder overseas manifestations … Continue reading Okunota BaileyZZANTE 2016: A Traditional Method Masterpiece

A-FACTORY Aomori Cidre Sparkling Dry: A Gateway Cider?

Featured

This week we turn our attention to a cider produced by East Japan Railway Company. No, that’s not a mistake. Before the train leaves the station, though, we will make a few general comments. It is our opinion that the market for hard cider in Japan is potentially sizable. Why? There are several reasons. First, … Continue reading A-FACTORY Aomori Cidre Sparkling Dry: A Gateway Cider?

Orchard Meets Vineyard with Yamagata’s Yellow Magic Winery GM Wine 2020

Featured

Orchard Meets Vineyard Yamagata’s Yellow Magic Winery has, to the best of our knowledge, broken new ground with the release of a beverage that is not quite cider, not quite perry, and not quite wine. This blend of apples (unspecified variety), La France pears, and Delaware grapes should not only please most palates but arouse … Continue reading Orchard Meets Vineyard with Yamagata’s Yellow Magic Winery GM Wine 2020

Featured

“When You’re Hot, You’re Hot; When You’re Not, You’re Not”: Takeda Winery Sans Soufre Cidre 2017

These days the word “herd” is being used with ever-increasing frequency. In short, herd immunity is good, but as Nietzsche made clear many years ago, herd mentality is not. What does this have to do with the subject matter dealt with on this blog, you ask? Good question. A number of years ago there was … Continue reading “When You’re Hot, You’re Hot; When You’re Not, You’re Not”: Takeda Winery Sans Soufre Cidre 2017