Beyond the bottles…

(Publication originale le 13 février 2009)
Sake bottlesI’ve been drinking saké, that is nihonshu, since my first time in Japan, almost 8 years ago. But this wonderful and elegant Japanese “wine” as I would call it has always remained sort of a mystery even though I’ve tried to read as much literature I could find about it. I wanted to know more, about the different types, about the way it was made, about the people behind it… but was a little concerned that the magic of it would disappear if I crossed the noren-like frontier between my amateur drinking world and what was beyond those gorgeous looking bottles of nihonshu that I could find first in ryokans then in Izakayas and other Japanese restaurants.

But then I decided it was time for me to explore this aspect of Japanese culture more deeply than I had before in order to be able to bring it back to my home country (I’m french by the way), share it and enjoy with my fellow citizens. First, I decided to enroll myself in the Sake Professional Seminar held by the world-famous sake specialist John Gaunter (called the Sake Guy in Japan) and then there was an invitation by Yasutaka Daimon from the Mukune Kura in Osaka to take part in the first Sake Brewing Internship Program ever opened to foreigners. I felt so honored and lucky when I learned that I was one of the few chosen for this internship.

I am now in action since Monday in this “better than I could have dreamed” program, sleeping at the brewery, waking up at 6 am, checking the moromi and the shubo every morning with the Toji (Master Brewer) before the 8:30 daily meeting with the kurabito team. The opportunity to be with Yasutaka Daimon, the owner and Toji, whose heart is as big as his knowledge, would be enlightening enough by itself. But it gets even better, sharing the life and the daily tasks of the kurabito for me is like having all the pieces of a gigantic puzzle coming all together to at least understand the whole process of sake making. I felt I could say much more about the generosity and the open-mind and open-heart of those people but I’m afraid the words wouldn’t be enough to express what I’d want to.Dining together after a whole day of work

Sake brewing isn’t a process, it’s a way of life that very few people from abroad have had the chance to discover. So unwrapping pieces of knowledge regarding the sake world hasn’t made the magic go away… far from that! Because in my willing to go beyond those labels, beyond those bottles I’ve been sharing and drinking these last years, I’ve discovered passionate people whose greatness isn’t recognize even in Japan.

I’ll try to post later about those pieces of puzzle I was talking about because I got to understand so much doing the stuff and share with you this wonderful experiment… if I can find the words.

Please, comment, ask, anything… because we, Mukune Team, first of its kind are not doing this for ourselves but to have the opportunity to expand interest for saké everywhere we can and your help will be greatly appreciated!

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