Daimon’s Ferrari

(Publication originale le 6 mars 2009)
Saké brewing is a very old and traditional craft but that doesn’t mean that it cannot use very modern technology. Daimon-san is very representative of this new generation of young Toji who are using this technology to improve quality and control over the different phases of premium-saké making.

There is a very important phase in preparing the Koji that is called “mori”: this is on the second day of the koji-making process when we take the koji from the first room of the “muro” (the almost “sacred” room where koji is initiated by spreading koji-mold on EVERY grain of the rice prepared for it) and then put it in a second room, usually in smaller trays. In old times, you would have needed to check temperature of the koji-rice, humidity of the air and development of the koji-kin (the mold itself) on a very tight schedule that wouldn’t allow you to sleep. (You can see the white fibers of the mold developping itself on the koji-rice – this picture to the right was taken after 27 hours ->)the mold developping itself on the koji-rice

Trays installed in the machieBut here Daimon-san (who is also the kuramoto ie the owner of the kura) took an important decision 12 years ago and decided to invest a LOT of money in buying this state-of-the-art machinery that turned this second room in an automatic and computer-controlled system.

Daimon-san explaining the graphsI remember how proud he was, explaining and showing us on the screen how it works and how accurate and precise is now the control he has over the different parameters like temperature, humidity,… and their evolution through time (the whole process takes about 25-27 hours and usually, 6 hours after “mori”, the “mixers” are turned on – this was done by hand before).
Trays are moved and rice is mixed

Again, it is a mix between ancestral tools and modern machinery, as for example, the boxes that are used are of the same kind of those used before: they are made out of wood and divided in 2 compartments of 2,5 kilos each. Also, to have consistency in temperature for all the boxes, those below go up, and those up go down thanks to the machinery (of course, this had to be done many times by hand before…).Trays move automatically

Years after having taken that risk, Daimon-san could now explain to us that it was the right thing to do: invest in what he calls, with his great sense of humor, his “Ferrari”.

For me, this is very emblematic of the way of thinking (and living) of those great people keeping alive the tradition of saké-making: they don’t buy Ferrari, they don’t take vacation: they take heavy risks to have the chance to keep doing what they do… all that for the sake of Saké.

From now on, for every cup I will drink, for every bottle of saké I will open, I will know the people, the work, the courage and the generosity it takes and I will always be thankfull.
And what better way for us, to give back… than to drink and to share with as many people as we can the saké they have made for us… How hard can it be?

Now that I’m back in France, I’m missing the smells, I’m missing the hotness and the coolness of the different parts of the kura, I’m missing the touching of the rice and all those tasks the kurabito’s have teached me but upon all, I miss those warm and great people I had the chance to work with.

To keep the spirit alive, I’ll try to explain, to share with my french compatriots…through my all-new blog about saké, through the tastings I will organize, through the small izakaya I want to open in Paris…

But I know that I need (and that I will) go back to the small village of Mukune..

… where they use a “Ferrari” to make Saké!

From all my heart….. Arigato!

… and Kanpai!

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