In Hiroshima during the Meiji and Taisho periods, a well-known Sake brewery called “Sempuku” (Miyake Honten) used a rare variety of rice called “Shinriki-mai” for brewing Sake.
After a huge amount of time and effort, “Shinriki-mai’ rice production has finally been restored. Conveniently, the Sake made from this rare rice is called “Shinriki”!
There is an annual project that allows people to experience each part of the flow of Sake brewing from spring to winter (rice planting, harvesting, and Sake brewing).
The desire to recreate ‘Origin Sake’…
In 1920, Sake made by the Sempuku brewery was loaded onto the battleship “Asama”. Even though Sake is vulnerable to heat, when the ship sailed through the equator, the Sake neither went bad nor its flavor change. Because of this, the Base Exchange awarded Sempuku a certificate for the exceptional quality of its product.
Recreated ‘Origin Sake’ is called “ShinrikiKimoto Junmai Muroka Genshu 85”.
With a soft, sweet and sour aroma like ripe fruit, it has a complex rich flavor. A genuinely rare Sake that is only produced in very limited quantities, almost as soon as it’s put on the store shelf it is sold out!
Preparations for ‘Origin Sake’ brewing began in 2006 with a handful of “Shinriki-mai” seed rice. It took many years for the original 5 grams to increase to the point where enough could be harvested for Sake brewing.
In the absence of any kind of written record referring to Sake brewing using “Shinriki-mai” rice (most records were destroyed in the flames of war), “Shinriki-mai” Sake was recreated through trial and error.
The “Shinrikidan” project allows members to be a part of the historical “Shinriki” Sake making process.
From rice planting in May, harvesting in October, and last but not least, December’s preparations for “Shinriki-mai” Sake brewing…
Rice that YOU plant grows heavy with ears of rice… When reaping the harvest, you can’t help but have a feeling of gratitude to each grain – a greatly moving experience!
However, not all the grains of rice harvested are used for Sake brewing. Only those that pass very stringent standards become “Shinriki”. If they have cracks or are too small, they’re not used.
Knowing this makes one greatly appreciate every sip…
From Kure to the Aki-takata area where the rice fields are located takes about 2-hours by chartered bus.
Soaking up the quiet rural landscape, enjoying a bento lunch with Sake after a hard day of rice reaping… an extraordinary feeling!
Sempuku Shuzo Miyake Honten, Gallery Miyake-ya shoten
7-9-10 Hondori, Kure-shi, Hiroshima
Website (Japanese): http://www.sempuku.co.jp/index02.htm
Setouchi Finder Photo-writer: Makoto Esaki, Yoko Suganami/ Rainbow Sake Co., Ltd.
Yoko Suganami Rainbow Sake, Inc. After an extended stay in Hawaii, in 2011, I returned to my hometown of Kure, Hiroshima. Having worked at advertising companies in both Japan and Hawaii, I founded Rainbow Sake - a PR company with the goal of spreading Sake abroad. I hope that sake will ""bring the people of the world together"" and that I can be a part of that. I often travel abroad, and mostly to Hawaii and Singapore. Every time I come back home, I rediscover the beauty of my hometown and the happiness the easygoing, calm, fresh and simple sea and mountains of Setouchi bring. http://www.rainbowsake.com
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