Japanese Sake - 003 Even if the sake brewery ages, the inside of the sake brewery should not age.
003 Even if the sake brewery ages, the inside of the sake brewery should not age
Even the heat wave in this summer has been getting calm after the equinoctial week, which was a total of 7 days including before and after 3 days of autumnal equinox on September 22. On October 1, as the shades of night began to fall, singing of insects brought us the coolness. The singing lured me to go out and walk along the Takase river, then I found the full moon floating in the sky of Daikoku-kura.
We can look at the brilliant moon admired “Harvest Moon” since ancient times. The harvest moon expresses the moon in the middle of autumn of four seasons and the full moon that rises on August 15 in the old calendar. The calendar counts on the phases of the moon as one month.
One month of the calendar goes around from the new moon (dark night) called “Saku”, followed by the waxing moon (the right half is bright) , the gibbous moon called “Komochizuki”, the full moon called “Nozomi” as the middle of the month, the waning moon (the left half is bright), and then back to the new moon.
Full moon floating in the sky of Daikoku-kura at 18:40 on October 2, 2020
The tradition of viewing the moon is called “Otsukimi” since ancient times. We spend time with feeling of calm while watching the full moon which appears to be bigger as the air is crisp and clear in the morning and evening and the sky stretches endless in this season. In this time before getting cold, we miss the passing season, feel peace of mind by faint moon light and enjoy the autumn night by offering dumplings to the moon.
In Fushimi, Kyoto, the dumplings offered to the moon are shaped like “Japanese taro”. It is a species of taro potato and native to Southeast Asia and were handed down from the continent. It’s been conveying the ancient food culture which reminds us of our nostalgic memory when the rice cultivation was established in Japan. We also hear that not a few rural villages call that moon as “Taro harvest moon” and offer Japanese taro to the moon.
After the day of viewing the moon, harvesting of ingredient rice “Yamada-Nishiki” starts. We decided October 19 as the day to start brewing in this year and we are now amid “Autumn cleaning” of the brewery.
In the Daikoku-kura, we call the each sake brewery room as “Front room”, “Middle room” and “Fermentation room” from the entrance of “Daikoku-kura”.
There is a framed motto at the entrance of “Middle room”. It has been conveying the importance of maintenance for the inside of the brewery.
Mr. Jihei Matsumoto, the eighth-generation family head, propounded the motto and Dr. Fujio Koana, Jihei’s old friend, wrote it with a brush. In 1973, the inside wall of the brewery was replaced from plaster to fireproof board to prevent fires in the wood building, and was coated elegantly with white water-based paint. The surface of the wood structured by Japanese cedar for vertical pillars and pine for horizontal pillars is called “Shibubiki” (=coating with persimmon juice). It produces insect-repelling effect, better slipping for wiping with a cloth and improves workability. In addition, it generates a calm color that matches the atmosphere of the building. Every summer after rainy season, the brewers themselves have been overpainting persimmon juice on it. Thus, it’s been increasing the color gloss.
The floor of the brewery coated with conventional “Tataki” (three kinds of materials are mixed to create it.) was recoated with concrete. In addition, in recent years, the surface is fully coated with epoxy resin after damaged parts are repaired every year. Eventually, we can start the new year of brewing with new feeling.
※ One year of Sake brewery starts on 1st July and ends on next 30th June. It is called “the name of an era XX BY” Brewery Year. We call the year of 2020 as the 2nd year of Reiwa brewery era or “R2BY”.
Coating with persimmon juice
Coating with epoxy resin
All the brewery's staff work together to clean the “Fermentation room” by brushing with water. In the old days, “Tataki” dirt floor in the “Fermentation room” was covered by blue mold and turned to all green in the rainy season. Eventually in the 1930s, it was replaced with concrete floor and they’ve been pursuing thorough cleanliness by brushing with abundant well water.
However nowadays, except for the thorough cleaning just before "Kura-iri" which means starting brewery, it become new customs that reducing the daily cleaning of the floor by water as much as possible, sweeping the resin-coated floor, vacuuming the floor and mopping as needed.
We call it 3S and make it a daily slogan, those are Souji (Shining), Seiton (Setting-in-Order) and Shuukann (Sustaining the Discipline).