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On Monday, May 7th, suddenly finding myself with some time to spare, I agreed to travel all the way to Numazu City with my sake friends, messrs. Nagashima and Yokoyama, to visit a Kura I had wanted to visit for some time: Takashima Brewery whose sake are known under the name of Hakuin Masamune.
The last generation who took over to let his father enjoy a well-earned retirement, came in the person of Kazukata Takashima, a burly judoka of nearly 29 years. For all his apparent youth, he showed us quickly he was already an accomplished « kurabito » keen to share his knowledge and experience. He came back to his father’s kura 5 years ago and selcted himself a toji/master brewer of the Nanbu School from Iwate Prefecture to help him improve his family’s business before he completely takes over all aspects of brewing with his staff of 4.
Upon entering his office, a quasi museum, I noticed a scroll featuring the same design as on Hakuin Masamune new bottles. Mr. Takashima explained the scroll had been bought from a Korean Antiques shop by his father and he used the drawing for his new brews as it happened to represent in general shape the second Kanji of forename!
Sitting in the middle of an bric-a-brac of antiques oand curios f all sorts, we briskly asked our questions Mr. Takashima seemed only to happy to answer and build on.
We tasted the water from his well as he explained it came from a depth of 50 metres where the waters originated from nearby Mount Fuji’s snow and took 350 years (yes 350!) to slowly sip through rocks to finally reach this location! He showed the « Torii » and shine the family built for the well which has served his kura so well since 1804.
We learned that the name of his sake was actually gifted to his family, whose first trade was net weaving for the fishermen of Numazu, by powerful members of the religious warrior sect led by Hakuin Eikaku who regularly came to drink and appreciate the sake made by his family for domestic use only at the time.
We were then taken on the traditional tour of the kura where modern equipment equally shared space with traditional facities and tools. We tasted the water, a pure nectar with its distinct characteristics.
Once back to his office, Mr. Takashima had us taste his new yamahai junmai (Yamada Nishiki Rice 60%) not put on the market yet, first chilled, then warm ed to an exact 39 degrees to show how his brew behaved differently according to temperature. I must admit it came up at his best slightly warmed, a discovery for me who usually does not appreciate « kan » (warm sake)!
As Mr. Takashima does not only brew sake but also shochu, we were offered a second lecture on his distilling and also offered the taste of his research on loquat and plum liqueurs!
His annual production presently amounts to 50,000 bottles (1.8l), none of is normal « futsushu » which he thankfully ceased 5 tears ago. He mills his own rice, using Yamada Nishiki, Gohyakumangoku, Mutsuhomare from Aomori and Homare Fuji, but plans to use only rice harvested in Shizuoka Prefecture soon. His yeast is « Shizuoka New 5 », and his junmai production represents 40% of the total output.
I might have to conduct an interview again very soon as Mr. Takashima will not only use ingredients made and harvested solely in Shizuoka Prefecture, but also intends to organize events to promote Shizuoka Prefecture sake, including sake tasing sessions!
Shizuoka Prefecture, Numazu City, hara, 254-1
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