Astute readers of this blog will realize that we are posting a little late this week. This is because we were participating in an event in Miki City, Hyogo Prefecture. We expect to be writing more about Hyogo Prefecture in the near future, so we will keep this entry relatively brief. The event was part of a PR campaign to promote the recruitment of ideas for the Hyogo Field Pavilion program, which will be held concurrently with Osaka Kansai Expo 2025. The Hyogo Field Pavilion will encompass programs/activities outside of the Expo site that are intended to allow visitors to go out and experience firsthand the diversity of the Hyogo region. There is a special emphasis on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The ideas that are implemented will address one or more of those goals.
On Friday, June 17 we were honored to join Hyogo Governor Motohiko Saito and Miki City Mayor Kazuhiko Nakata in a number of interesting activities, all of which are good examples of what the future holds for Hyogo Field Pavilion. The most-labor intensive of these events was rice-planting, which provided us with some understanding of the great efforts that the rice farmers of the region make to provide consumers with a high-quality product. The planting was eventually followed by knife-sharpening. Miki City is known as “The City of Hardware,” and we truly hope that we contributed to its cutting edge by sharpening our blades to perfection. The last event was a kura tour and tasting, which we will cover in a future entry.
We would like to say a little more about the rice-planting at this point. Just as there are table grapes and wine grapes, so too are there varieties of rice for eating and for nihon-shu production. As with wine, there is no Berlin Wall preventing crossover, but generally speaking, table rice is considered better for the bowl and sake rice better for the bottle. For some, the very pinnacle of the sake-rice (sakamai) hierarchy is occupied by Yamada Nishiki, a hybrid for which Hyogo Prefecture is famous.
We were planting Yamada Nishiki at what can only be likened to a grand-cru vineyard, a rice paddy thought to produce the very best of the best – Toku A Chiku (特A地区), or Special A Ranked! We took off our shoes, rolled up our pants, and submerged our feet in the soft mud, which felt surprisingly silky, almost what one would expect to get slathered with at a spa. The planting went smoothly, after which we had the opportunity to converse with some of the other participants. The conversational topics generally revolved around the concept of terroir and its significance vis-à-vis Hyogo in general and Yamada Nishiki in particular.