This time we visited Azabu University, one of the l…
Premier Sake and Kito Crane
For this time we visited Nishida Shuzoten, a sake brewery noted for premier brands like Denshu and Kiku Izumi. On entering the classic wooden structure, we were surprised to find a bright brewing floor with the latest equipment.
Sake brewing starts before dawn on a cold winter day. The brewers layer up washed rice to steam. The sake rice looks a lot like snow at this point.
A Kito light crane moves the ingredients in the process of making moromi (pre-filtered fermented rice mash) from shubo, which is steamed rice mixed with koji (aspergillus), more rice and water. With a little pull of the crane, capable of three-dimensional motion, the ingredients easily move into the neatly arranged brewing tanks.
Nishida Shuzoten is committed to traditional handmade sake. High-quality ingredients handled lovingly by the brewers result in premier brews.
Sake breweries are often marked by the sugidama (cedar ball) hanging above the entrance. We saw one at Nishida Shuzoten, too. It's made of cedar branches tied together and shaved into a sphere. A dark green ball indicates that a new sake has just been completed. The green ball gradually turns to brown, illustrating the brew's maturity.