Archive for the ‘Session 2’ Category

和醸良酒-or-Happy Brewing Session 3!

One night during Session 2, Daimon-san brought us all to a nearby restaurant for a very nice dinner. It was actually our second visit there, and this time we sat down in the tatami room in the back. From where I was sitting, I could look up and see the framed calligraphy in the photograph below. The last character on the left especially caught my eye.


I’m pretty sure those kanji are read Wajyouryoushu. But, what does that mean? Probably something important for all of us who join the kurabito for our short stay on the MISBP. If I had to really hack the translation kanji by kanji, it might go something like this:

和 [wa] Harmony
醸 [jyou] Brewing
良 [ryou] Good
酒 [shu] Sake

There must be a much more elegant way to phrase this, but how about “Good sake from happy brewers”? I think it goes well beyond just happy though. Beau and others have already commented on the flow in the kura. And translating wa as “happiness” just isn’t right. “Contented” feels good but reminds me of a certain California dairy campaign that just isn’t dignified. “Peaceful” belies the amount of hard work involved.

If the MISBP motto is “The Best Way To Learn Sake Is To Make Sake” then maybe we can turn it around to also say that “The best way to make good sake is to know good sake”? “Love good sake”? I’m grasping at straws here, so I’ll leave it to the next crew to ask Daimon-san how he can best explain those kanji for you. Have fun, happy brewing, and wish I was back!


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MISBP Alumni Facebook group page

I set up an “alumni” page on Facebook – please join, will be a convenient way to organise efforts and, hopefully, alumni events!


Meetup anybody?

Near the end of the week at the brewery, Daimon-san asked about the Tokyo Sake Meetup. I don’t mean to be too self-promotional here, but since we just announced our next event, I thought I’d explain a little bit. Meetup is a website that makes it easy to coordinate events and announce them. It works like many social networking sites such as Facebook or LinkedIn, but has the added advantage of a good RSVP system that makes it worth the small monthly charge.


Et-chan and I had been attending many nihonshu events, classes, and tastings in Japanese, but there were few opportunities for newbies or people who preferred their sake intake in English. So, Et-chan (I just help out as much as I can) decided to create the Tokyo Sake Meetup to take everything we’ve learned and try to share the enjoyment of nihonshu with people in or around Tokyo in a bilingual setting. Since 2007, we’ve held 16 events for lots of old and new sake fans. It is just a lot of fun to turn people on to the many, many ways to enjoy sake. There are more than 100 people on our membership list but we usually have a small turnout of 8-20 people for an event. One nice point is that there is always a fun mix of people from Japan and those from around the world living in or near Tokyo. Slowly, but surely, we’re spreading the word about our favorite beverage.

Please sign up and you’ll get all of the sake information and events we put out there. I know most of you aren’t in Tokyo, but you never know when you might want to visit, right? We love to have people from out of town. Can’t make it to Tokyo? There are also Sake Meetups in Chicago, New York, the Twin Cities, and Vancouver. I hope we’ll see some new ones in California, Philly, and Singapore soon. Hint! Hint! A Kansai Sake Meetup seems to be a must. If you know someone who can get it started, I think we all know a brewery they could visit.

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Things the MISBP interns need–or, not

Since we seem to be in a list mode here on the blog lately, I guess I’ll try to tie together a few thoughts for future Interns. I’m sure I have forgotten something, so I might come back with a reflexive comment to myself. Please, add your own thoughts and pretty soon we’ll have a regular FAQ list for next year’s group.

Things I was very glad I brought with me

  • A multi-plug: I got a tiny little AC power splitter that came in very handy. I could charge my camera, video camera, iPhone, and computer all at the same time in my room. Very handy. With everyone carrying lots of gear, there are never enough plugs.
  • Long underwear: I brought one pair of cheapy Uniqlo ski-wear. I wish I’d brought another. When you spend a whole day washing rice and doing stuff in the kura building it gets cold, especially the feet. They kept me warm without having to pile up so many layers of jackets. For anyone with the dreaded lower-back pain, keeping that area warm is a good idea.
  • Flip MinoHD: These are great little cameras. I love mine. I now have hours of video to edit and post to this blog, but someday soon…
  • Things I didn’t really need after all

  • Tripod: I never had time to stand still and set it up. No good place to leave anything anyway.
  • So many socks: I missed the memo about the washing machine.
  • Coffee: After various travels around Japan I have found myself coffee-deprived on enough early mornings that I usually bring a Mon Cafe or a Melitta with me. No need here!
  • Things I wish I had brought

  • Notes: I forgot to bring all of my notes, such as they are, about sake. The evening discussion often turned to other sake (surprise, surprise), and I was sometimes caught trying to remember something I’d had ages ago or something I had learned but forgotten.
  • A tiny voice recorder: I was often way to busy to make notes and there is so much water around that notebooks might not always hold up well. I wish I’d had a little clip-on voice recorder. I tried to make do with my phone now and then, but it wasn’t the same.
  • Camera straps: This is a big one. I was always fishing my Ricoh or my Flip out of one pocket or another. The around-the-neck camera strap is clunky and can be uncomfortable, but I missed shots because I didn’t have the camera handy. You will always have some work you should be doing with your hands, so you can’t just hold the camera all day. Also, we sometimes passed cameras to each other or wanted to get pics of what was happening in the tanks. I was sure I was going to drop my camera in the moromi and then be instantly ejected from the kura. Fortunately, that didn’t happen, but it very easily could. Put a strap on that camera and you can relax.
  • Storage: We all took a ton of pictures. I wish I’d cleared out my laptop hard drive before I came so I had more room. Extra memory cards are not a bad idea either. If you use SD, you can get an extra 1GB at the Family Mart down the road for about ¥2,000.
  • What did you forget? What did I forget? What should the next session bring along? I know there is something. Fire away with your comments.


    Daily Commentary

    Apart from Über-creative haiku, I’ve been posting daily pictures and commentary at:

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    5 Reasons why I like Team Mukune

    Margaux. Mei Lin. Peter. Rick. Ted.

    What a great group of people! We’ve worked hard but have also had a lot of fun getting to know each other. Sometimes, the sake otaku leads a lonely existence, so it’s wonderful to be around like-minded people. I have no doubt that our connection has been real, friendships have been formed, forged through our work, and will be refreshed many times in the future.

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    5 reasons why I like Rice

    Raining RiceHoreiki - cooling the riceThe Koji Room

    In no particular sequence!

    First : I love them with my meals.  Its a staple food!!  Sushi, Mochi, Ochazuke/Ojiya, ……

    Second : A chance of a lifetime. Now u can play with rice. (While Making Koji – warning for new comers, wear alot less.  Bikini top will be good – ITS HOT IN THERE!!)

    Third : While working on cooling the rice through a houreiki  (the stage before its poured into the tank for moromi making) be surprised by how smooth your hands can be after that.  Another effective way is to bathe yourself in them – Junmaishu!

    Fourth : Raining Rice. Have you ever heard the sound of rice?  Listen to it! (Moromi Making stage where rice is mixed with moto and water)

    Fifth : Many varieties, many surprises! SAKE!!  YUM!!

    p/s  Speaking for myself, I wish I am more familiar with the Japanese terms and more, before attending this internship.  So to the newbies, do read up before you attend this session.  You don’ t want to miss the moment.

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    The Rice’s Tale

    Imagine if you will,  a journey through time and space that begins with an intensive abrasion of your skin.  While  still smarting, you’re jet-sprayed, dunked, and held under water until you’ve shed whatever residue  remained from the abrasion.  “Whew! Glad that’s over with,” you think as you lie down and rest for the night.

    But early the following morning before you know what’s happening,  you’re in the hottest Turkish bath you’ve never dreamed of.  Ouch!  With great relief you’re allowed to cool off while being transported somewhere by conveyor belt.  Suddenly,  without warning,  you’re sucked into a hose and flying at warp speed  until…splash!  You’ve been shot into  a tank of yeasty smelling liquid.

    Such is the sakamai“s  tale.

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    Not truly a Ferrari

    The experience I acquired at this brewery cannot be overstated. Daimon Brewery is a small scale production facility in which it is relatively easy to get a sense of the whole sake production process from A to Z.
    Also the diversity in the selection of interns adds a synergy in the learning process. Everyone has a different background, proffession and degree of brewing knowledge, but all have a common reason of why we are willing to take our time off to participate in this internship: it is our love for sake.

    But don‘t be fooled by the small size of this brewery; it is not your usual Mom and Pop business.  Although the sake making process here is very much done in small scale avoiding convenient shortcuts, the quality control process on the other hand has gained the benefit of heavy investments in computers/electronic equimpments for measurement and control purpose such as temperature and humidity. What is nicknamed a ‘Ferrari‘ due to its cost is actually missleading. It is a wise investment that allows higher quality control and consistency in the final product.

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    Take a sippy sip

    Jumanai djimi django

    Where did my hat go?