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Month in Sake - July 2023

We arrived in peak summer which coincided with me also arriving in my new home until the end of the year: Kyoto. I have lived here a few months at a time over the last couple of years and am looking forward to diving deeper into the sake of the area, including neighboring prefectures such as Shiga, as there is just so much great sake all around here!


"Blurred Reality" Photo Exhibition and Sake


I was delighted to again show my photos from this year's Kyotographie KG+2023 at a private residence in Tokyo combined with sake for a selected audience.


Aside from the exhibition which included a short artist talk and Q&A a variety of sake was available paired with Italian food, as well as Doburoku and some other beverages. Really another great event and sadly the last at this location. However when one door closes another opens and I am looking forward to moving this even internationally, with plans to hold a similar event next January in Germany, so stay tuned...



Sake Spring Kyoto


Sake Spring is one of the Sake events here in Kyoto, with two annual happenings, one in "spring" and a second one in autumn.


Of course, I was looking forward to meeting some familiar faces both on the brewer’s and visitors’ side, but even more importantly meeting some really interesting people and learning more about their projects, including Nagano’s 59jo (learn more about it here).


I also hope I will be able to visit a few of the breweries including Fushimi’s latest brewery addition “Matsuyama Sake Brewery”, which had stopped brewing, but is now back making sake as of this year (and it is tasty!), or Suginomori brewery, which is the highest located sake brewery in Japan, standing at an altitude of 940m located in Narai-juku, surrounded by the cedar forest and mountains of Kiso Valley, as well as trying more Joyo Shuzo’s sake that we randomly got connected to on a recent trip to Awaji (it is a small world).


The list is getting longer 😁


Tsukinokatsura Nigori and Miso Pairing at Sake Spring


Sake Spring might be my favorite Kyoto Sake festival and this time I even managed to join one of the seminars: Sake and Miso Pairing! In a short lecture, the basics of Miso was explained followed by a sake pairing. What a great surprise, the sake chosen was Tsuki no Katsura's Junmai Nigori sake, paired with 3 dishes including a variety of Miso from different makers: ・Tofu with Lemon white Miso and Gold Kiwi ・Japanese pepper-flavored miso rillettes ・Miso Stir-fried Pork and Green Peppers It was especially great to be in the session with the makers to see their reactions to the pairings. Without a doubt, the Lemon white miso and tofu was the winner, surprisingly fresh and just delicious with the sparkling nigori sake 🍶



Hama Otsu Morning Market - Emishiki


Without a doubt, one of my favorite places/events is the monthly Hama Othsu Morning Market. In fact, I used to plan my traveling schedule around it, and whenever I have the chance to bring people I do 🙂


It is really a hidden gem and the best part is that every month a different Shiga brewery comes to the market to showcase their sake - both hot & cold - a real treat! This time it was "Emishiki" and they really wowed us with their Kimoto, Sparkling sake and koshu!



Gion Matsuri - Kyoto


Not necessarily sake related, but one of these events in an area's cultural calendar that cannot be overlooked because of its historical significance.


Gion Matsuri in Kyoto is one, if not the event that should be visited if you do find yourself in Kyoto during June/July as the parades are amazing showcases of Japanese heritage and culture and the after parties (if one can call them that) are worth wandering the streets of Kyoto at night time with food stalls appearing on almost every corner and locals and visitors alike enjoying the cooler summer evenings.



Sake from the Road - Kyoto


I am lucky to be spending a few weeks in what might be the most beautiful house in Kyoto and as I am soon be moving into my new tiny place I thought why not use the space and share some of the sake I have been collecting with some friends.


Lovely evening, with great people and great sake, including a gift I got from Shigeki Tonoike from Tonoike Shuzoten (the small Cindy bottle), which was great to have side by side with his recently released limited 12-year-old Koshu.


I also opened one of my bottles of super-aged sake that I recently bought. The sake is from a private label and dates to 1971, making it 51 years old, and what a surprise it was! Clean, with almost no colour, but a distinct aroma...


I will bring this out at anothe future event, so if you are interested watch this space...



Shiga Jizake Industry Tasting


This month has also seen Shiga’s Sake breweries come together for a special industry event promoting their brews to restaurant owners and bars in a small event in Kyoto and it was great to see so many brewers come out showcasing their sake!


There are a few takeaways from the day: for one, pretty much everyone was promoting Kanzake! Maybe not as big as a surprise, as traditionally sake has been consumed warm in the area, but still quite noticeable compared to other regional sake events. And second, the amount of Koshu (aged sake) appearing at each brewery booth. With anything from just a couple of years to a 30-year-old sake, this is highlighting a trend that we have seen happening all around Japan.


If you are not a fan of Shiga sake yet, make sure to try it, as many of the sake we had a chance to try here will be in restaurants and bars near you soon 😉



Osaka Monitor Tour


And just as the month is coming to and end, I joined a monitor tour in Osaka as I was quite interested in how this History & Food Tour incorportes beverages, as that was part of the itinerary.


To be honest I wished there was sake on the menues, especially as we did visit a sushi place and it would have been the perfect opportunity to introduce sake with it.


However, I did enjoy that we ended up at Minoh Beers' tap room "the Beer Belly", as it is a pretty nice place to hang out and intruduce the Japanese craft beer scene to people who may not be aware of it yet.


They are a small brewery located in Minoh City in the northern part of Osaka, but one of their tap room is right in the middle of Temma Market and they even have a beer that uses sake rice koji - what's not to love!



To see all that is happening (in almost real-time) you can follow Sake Nomad on Instagram or Facebook, I will be back with another "This Month in Sake" next month!

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