Archive for March, 2009
After reading the previous interns’ posts, I was really eager to meet Daimon-san and see his brewery with my own eyes. I arrived at the brewery after dark, and as I approached the main gate it felt like I was looking into a mystical gardern. The brewery has an absolutely beautiful courtyard that is lit with tiny spotlights and has a very peaceful feeling (the picture below does not do it justice).
After I long train ride from Tokyo, I couldn’t help but feel more relaxed as I walked towards the main door. Very quickly, I was greeted by Daimon-san and couldn’t have felt more welcomed. He is a genuinely nice individual and his enthusiasm for this program is tangible. As I was the last intern to arrive, minutes before the first scheduled meeting at 7pm, we assembled in the dining area of the brewery. After introductions and a speech by Daimon-san about his hopes and desires for this program, it was off to a local izakaya for our first group dinner. In summary, the food was excellent, and the 3 bottles of Mukune nihonshu that Daimon-san shared- a nama, lightly cloudy sake （うすにごり生酒）, a daiginjo, and a special production junmaishu (特別純米酒）- were also excellent.
All in all, it was a great start to the week. We are just getting are feet wet, literally, in the brewery today. In fact, it is time to go back now!
Rick and I are sitting at the kitchen table getting used to the Dashboard. I’m watching sumo on the large tv that will be our video monitor soon. Daimon san drove into town…an embarrassingly straight shot down the road. We knocked around the Kansai Supa . On the way back, we reaized Rick had been maybe 20 feet from the shuzo back entrance before he gave up the dark last night. His taxi driver had refufsed to give him the ride, as the station was closing around 1 a.m., saying, (Rick thinks) “It’s only 300 meters, dude!” I was more fortunate last evening in the pouring rain,but the driver took a circuitous route to the beautiful front garden gate. Warming, future Mukunites, the route straight up from the station has no English sign saying “Mukune, this way”. On your right there is a asphalt path splitting uphill alongside the road. It IS marked by several lavendar long banners with kanji on them. A small sign on the wall says Mukune but is hard to spot. There is a rusted barred gate and you will walk into the bottle storage area. The entrance is on your right justpast the tall concrete chimney. Now we are awaiting the arrival of the rest of TeaMUKU3 and the evenings festivities before we get to work tomorrow. In the shuzo! Hands on!
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!
Yes, it is true I was able to make to the Kura last evening with only a few minor train difficulties but resolved. Today found some new foods at the market and a day of rest. It will be great wash it down with some of the sake I have come for.
Arrived yesterday 5pm in torrential rain.
Rick arrived 2 am last night after 3 planes and 3 trains. He’s revived now and we are drinking Key coffee. Daimon san will show us around a bit but today is a day off. The rest of the Session 3 crew blows in tonight.Great accomodations and room and shower. No knives or forks in the kitchen, but 100s of chopsticks. More soon. Looks and smells incredible.
I set up an “alumni” page on Facebook – please join, will be a convenient way to organise efforts and, hopefully, alumni events!
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
Things I didn’t really need after all
Things I wish I had brought
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.
Apart from Über-creative haiku, I’ve been posting daily pictures and commentary at:
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.