Many people around the world and readers of this blog in particular will be ushering in the New Year with their favorite libation. For one of us here at drinkingjapan.org, it will probably be a very good Cava, our own homage to Catalonia. For many residents of Kumamoto, it will most likely be Akazake, or red sake.

Kumamoto Prefecture is located in Kyushu, Japan’s southernmost main island. The capital city, also named Kumamoto, boasts an impressive castle—well worth a visit—and, according to its Wikipedia entry, a number of symbols, among which are the great tit—a perennial favorite—and the gingko, the fruit of which has an extremely offensive odor but whose nut is delicious and salubrious. For this writer, there was also a bit of a mystery surrounding the symbol on its flag. It features what appears to be a “C.” However, a very helpful official at Kumamoto City Hall kindly clarified things. The “C” is actually a creative representation of the hiragana く. “The logo depicts how Kumamoto City resembled a ring as it rapidly developed, bringing people together as a team with unity and harmony as its foundation.” Interesting!

What is Akazake? It is a sake made with the addition of charcoal. In this rendition glutinous rice (a.k.a., sticky rice) was used. It is sometimes used in cooking in lieu of mirin. The Akazake from Chiyonosono Sake Brewery is certainly sweet, though the color is not red but yellow-gold. The bouquet is suggestive of damp forest leaves. The sweetness level is high, and the alcohol low (12% abv). The body is fairly substantial, as can be seen by its noticeable legs. The most impressive aspect of this beverage is its incredibly silky mouthfeel. We could not think of an appropriate food pairing for this drink, but we can understand why some would find this an excellent aperitif before osechi, traditional Japanese New Years’ food.

A Happy New Year to all our readers!

We have written a book. For more information on Japanese beverages, please check it out. You can get it at fine offline and online booksellers in Japan, including Amazon


#drinkingjapan #drinkjapan #Akasake #kumamoto

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