Explore the culture as if traveling to different locales
Philosophy, art, religion, natural sciences... Through these original “Saku” experiences, you’ll encounter the local culture behind sake and discover the essence of Japan. While following along in real time the entire process from rice-planting to the sake's completion, you’ll explore local culture.3月の旅について詳しく見る
Sake has deep ties to Japan's history, so much so that the topic of sake production appears in ancient documents such as “A Record of Ancient Matters” and “Chronicles of Japan.” Sake's roots allegedly trace back to “chewed sake,” which young female assistants in shrines produced by chewing rice. Ever since rice planting was passed along in the Yayoi era, sake has been an indispensable part of religious rituals as a sacred drink dedicated to the gods. We will explore the roots of the Japanese people by looking at the connections between sake and Shintoism.
Sake begins with rice. Though sake and rice have not been as widely discussed as wine and wineries, today more and more brewing companies are beginning to get involved at the rice-making stage. That’s because being particular about how the rice is cultivated, fertilized, harvested, and milled leads to changes in the sake's flavor. We’ll visit a rice paddy and ask a young farmer who grows Yamada Nishiki, the sake rice used for “Saku,” about how sake is made in the Harima area.
Fukunishiki is the brewery that is making the sake for the first year of “ Saku.” In Kasai, where Fukunishiki has brewed sake for generations, Noh and “Kyogen” plays called “Kasai Noh” are performed every year on the subject of the “Record of the Cultural and Natural Features of Harima Province,” compiled more than 1,300 years ago, and the “Nehime Tradition,” a record of cultural and natural features and a legend of love in Kasai City. A look into sake’s historical ties to Noh theater may offer insight into sake-making as a part of traditional Japanese culture.
In the Heian era, when samurai warriors took center stage in Japanese politics against a backdrop of armed force, the job of armor-maker was born. From the Middle Ages until the start of the Edo era, things like armor-making and blacksmith techniques were finely honed during the Harima area, where rival barons from influential ruling families held various strongholds. Even now, there are some families who continue to pass down those techniques from the Heian era. Among those, we will visit an artisan who makes a living as a swordsmith, as well as a Harima blacksmith.
In art or paintings that are expressed through their creator’s sensibilities, the things the artist sees and hears, the earth and water, and their connections with people continue to have a significant impact on the art that is created. Nowadays, as management based on theoretical and rational decisions is reaching its limits, the world's top businesspeople are keen to hone their aesthetic awareness. In that context, we will explore the vision of artists associated with the Harima area and how the area's cultural and natural features influence it.
The word hyakusho originally came from hyaku no namae or “100 names,” meaning someone who could do several different jobs. There are farming families who, as the name suggests, are born into a farming family, study art, and brew sake using only rice they harvest from their own rice paddies. That sake, called ichibo isshu, meaning “sake from a single paddy,” presents a new flavor that differs from the conventional sake-making style, which entails blending rice from several different rice paddies.
“Cultural and natural features and passion are what make sake,” says Fukunishiki Corporation president Takayuki Inaoka. When he took over from his father Koichiro, after thinking how he could contribute, he reportedly decided to focus on making sake exclusively with rice from his home city of Kasai. He got a designer from Kasai to design the label and used community-based funding to brew the sake, things he was uniquely poised to do as a local brewer, exemplifying sake-making that’s rooted in local cultural and natural features.
The history that is accessible to us began with the invention of writing. In Japan, calligraphy (shodo) is considered to have originated when people began copying sutras by hand upon the introduction of Buddhism in the Asuka era. Just as with traditions such as martial arts and the tea ceremony, calligraphy also has different styles, and historically, differences arose in the styles that are considered mainstream in western Japan and in eastern Japan. We’ll introduce a budding calligrapher from the Harima area as he talks about the link between culture and geography and calligraphy.
Few alcoholic beverages are as closely linked to their drinking vessels as sake is, to the extent that some people say the fun of sake lies in the cups it's served in. There’s a saying that, “What goes best with native sake is ceramics made with native soil.” Perhaps that’s because both sake and ceramics are made from soil, water, and flames. We’ll learn about ceramic-making techniques that have been passed down in the Harima area and ways to enjoy the local soil, water, and living spaces, all from a craft potter who is committed to working in his local community.
In Japan, with its richly diverse seasons, nothing is more luxurious than indulging in native, seasonal foods. “The essence of fine flavor is local production for local consumption.” To serve food that aptly conveys the essence of Japanese cuisine, one key is being thoroughly committed to local ingredients. Local sake goes well with local foods. This fact alone may prove that sake is a culture that’s a product of local cultural and natural features.
Sake you name yourself
From Hyogo prefecture's Harima area, called the “hometown of sake,” you’ll receive sake made with Yamada Nishiki, the king of sake rice. We’ll deliver a total of eight bottles divided into two shipments, one in spring and one in autumn. Brewed in a tank reserved exclusively for “Saku” members, this sake is still nameless. The only one of its kind in the world, this sake is for you to name as you look back over your 10-month experience.
Through original hands-on content,
discover the essence of Japan.
From the rice-planting to when the rice is ripe, up to when your one of a kind sake, exclusive to “Saku,” is ready -- we've prepared 10 experiences, along with a special kit, that will fill you up abundantly on the inside, too, as you count the months on your fingers.