Shizuoka Beer: Kuraya Narusawa Brewery

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sake, shochu and sushi


Sometime in the mid-90’s the Japanese Government (Tax Office) made a momentous decision by greatly reducing the minimum output required for a beer brewery to obtain a license. This gave birth to a plethora of micro-breweries, most of the time coupled with restaurants and other ventures, all over Japan. Shizuoka Prefecture, for good and bad, did not escape the trend. At one time our Prefecture counted more than 15 of them. Only 9 have survived to this day, a good enough proof the present establishments are above average (this is a very personal opinion!). But one must keep in mind that Shizuoka Prefecture is nearly the ideal place to brew beer. It is blessed with the best natural water in the whole of Japan and a long and exceptional experience in brewing sake as I will explain later.

Kuraya Narusawa Brewery is located in the Northern part of Izu Peninsula, one of the most visited regions in Japan. Access is pretty simple and you do not need a car which will present from enjoying your favourite drink: get to Mishima Station (Bullet train or Tokaido), board the train to train to Shuzenji and get off at Izu Nagaoka Station where a billboard sign will confirm you are in the right place! A taxi will take you there in a few minutes (less than 900 yen).

Kuraya Narusawa, founded on the 4th of July 1997 three months after they obtained their license, harbours more than a mere micro-brewery.

It is responsible for the maintenance of a noted historical asset: the “Nirayama Hanshyaro”/Nirayama Ship Gun Foundry, the only left intact in the whole country. It took no less than three years to build between 1854 and 1857 and was first conceived in Shimoda City before move whole to Nirayama.

Shizuoka Prefecture producing 70% of the national green tea and Izu Peninsula being a major growing area, no wonder that Kuraya Narusawa also grow and sell their own tea, mainly “Yabukita and Okuhikari, a total of 10,000 kg of raw leaves. Tea lovers will be interested to learn that they can actually participate to the harvest in April~May and October~November.

Local crafts lovers and collectors will be happy to learn this place is noted for its “Tsurushi Kazari”/”Hanging Decorations”. An annual exhibition is held in site on 370 square meters with more than 750 of them both for boys and girls between the end of December and March 31st!

I had made a special appointment for an interview with the company before I arrived on a very hot afternoon last Friday in the company of a friend whose haouse almost stands next door.
The manager, Mr. Hironori Imamura, a very quiet smiling gentleman was markedly a bit nervous at first. But when he later realized that my lady companion was actually the daughter of one of the biggest strawberry growers in the area (he even mentioned her father by nickname!), he markedly relaxed and warmed up to my questions.
He took us right away inside the actual brewery run by his master brewer Atsushi Watanabe.
The gentleman does everything by himself from roasting to bottling, with a total output of 50 Kl!

Grain mainly come from the States and Europe, while most of the hops is imported from the Czech Republic.

Mr. Watanabe produces three regular brews all year long: Tarozaemon Pale Ale, Yorimoto Porter and American Ale. He also have some great fun brewing five to six seasonal beers.
Now, one of them is gaining a lot of popularity. It is called Daiginjyo Masako.
Well, if you a little about Japanese Sake, you will ask why the term “Daiginjyo” is used for a beer!
The answer is pretty simple:
Mr. Watanabe is free (“on holiday”) a few weeks every winter and takes the opportunity to give a hand to a local Sake Brewery.
-“Bandai Brewery in Shuzenji?” I innocently asked.
-“That’s right.” replied the brewer with a hint of a smile.
-“How many kinds of yeasts do you use for brewing beer?
-“A dozen. But Mr Denbei Kawamura introduced me to a sake yeast, and we thought we should give it try. Do you know him?
-“Denbei San? He happens to be a friend of mine (The grin grew wider), and I suppose you are using Shizuoka New HD-1 yeast?”
The Manager and the brewer almost burst in laughter. They had taken the risk to show the heart of their business to a stranger (usually you may not without some kind of introduction or connection), and just found out they almost had a colleague in front of them (alright, this is a very conceited comment!)!

After that I actually had to put an end to the interview as my companion and I got thirsty and hungry. I had made myself enough of a nuisance and we repaired to their restaurant.

It is actually a nice place to wine and dine with your special one, family or big group of friends.
The mainly BBQ food is reasonably priced, plentiful and a good quality, most of it coming from local farms (plenty of salad and vegetabkles, too, with seafood from Izu Peninsula).

Now, the beer! You must ask for the tasting set of four! (I actually oredered two sets for myself!). Only then can you proceed to some serious drinking. Do not worry there is everything to please everybody, from their own local sake to wine and soft drinks!

I would like to take the opportunity to thank Mr. Inamura who drove us later back home (for my lady companion) and to the station (for me!).

Kuraya Narusawa: a must stop on the way to deep Izu Peninsula!

410-2113 Izu No Kuni shi, Naka, 272-1 (get off at Izu Nagaoka Station. Few minutes away by taxi)
Tel.: 055-949-1208
Opening hours: 11:00~15:00 (Monday to Thursday), 11:00~22:00 (Friday to Saturday and National Holidays)
Live concert every Friday evening.
Brewery and Tea Factory visits possible by appointment.
Credit Cards OK

Cana: Classic Cake-Chiffon Cake

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Chiffon Cake, for all its grand French name, is actually a purely American invention!
It was created by a gentleman called Harry Baker, an Insurance salesman in California of all trades.
Check Wikipedia for more savoury information!

I just wonder what friends like Banu, Taste memory, Rowena and others would have to say about that! Alright, this is not an invitation for a forum! LOL.

Cana is relatively a newcomer. They opened their first shop some two years ago In Yaizu City before opening their tiny “branch” in Shizuoka City. A good idea as their cakes are remarkable.

“Matcha” Tea Chiffon Cake

Royal Milk Tea Chiffon Cake

They exclusively make Chiffon Cakes!
You can buy them whole inside a beautiful original round box or buy them by the slice. One whole cake makes for 12 slices.
They come in 8 different flavours.
Extremely light, they make for the perfect cake to enjoy with tea or coffee at any time of the day (or night!)
One important detail is that they are not afraid of stating exactly what ingredients are used, including organic sugar!
Although they do use eggs, they do make for great cakes for vegetarians and bodyline-conscious people alike!

420-0839 Shizuoka City, Aoi Ku, Takajyo, 3-11-26
Tel. 054-255-0037
Opening hours: 10:00~19:30
Closed on Mondays

425-0027 Yaizu City, Sakae Cho, 1-8-1
Tel.: 054-620-0037
Opening hours: 10:00~19:00
Closed on Mondays

Bryan Baird’s Newsletter

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Baird Beer & Taproom Events Bulletin 2008 #20

Dear Taproom Friend & Baird Beer Enthusiast:

We brewed our 1000th batch of Baird Beer this year on April 30. Thinking this an important landmark for us, we decided in advance to commemorate the occasion by formulating and brewing a uniquely characterful beer. We also found ourselves reflecting on our journey within the Japan craft brewing industry to batch # 1000. When we started the prevailing wisdom was that it made no economic or business sense to brew on a miniscule scale (our first brewing system was of 30-liter batch size). It generally was thought, too, that an exclusive focus on the brewing of beers with distinct character and strong personality was a mistake. Our dispense of beer at The Taproom at appropriate temperatures (generally 8 – 12 C), rather than at icy-cold industrial levels was often snickered at and provoked numerous comment about our “luke-warm” beer. I could go on.

Our sole mission was and is the delivery to discerning drinkers of a broad variety of beers that shimmer with character and shine with distinction. Fortunately for us, there is in Japan an abundance of sensistive, open-minded and discerning drinkers. It has been sheer joy to brew beer for such a fine group. To those who didn’t get it, and perhaps sitll don’t, we say, good naturedly: Zamamiro! (loosely translated as, “Hey, I told you so!”).

*Batch # 1000 Ale (Zamamiro! Ale) (ABV 7.8%):

The concept here is a strong, golden ale that enjoys a clean, crisp and easy smoothness while still packing a powerful flavor and alcohol punch. The brewing inspiration is very Belgian — we use only base malts and unmalted wheat, we jack up the gravity (to 1.074) with lots of sugar (sudakito), keep the hop BUs at a reasonable level (35), and accentuate aroma by dry-hopping with earthy, herbal hop varieties (Santiam and Glacier). The only thing Belgian we don’t do is ferment with a phenolic-producing Belgian yeast strain (we use our house ale yeast instead). The result, we think, is a beer that combines supreme drinkability with quiet audacity.

Batch # 1000 Ale is now being served on draught at both of our Taprooms as well as at other fine Baird Beer retailing pubs and restaurants throughout Japan. 633 ml bottles also are available for purchase at Baird Beer retailing liquor stores in Japan and via our online estore.

Please note: The Nakameguro Taproom will be closed for business Tuesday, September 16 due to a special event. It will re-open for normal business hours on Wednesday, September 17.


Bryan Baird
Baird Brewing Company
Numazu, Japan

Today’s Lunch/Bento (29)

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Some friends of have wondered what the Missus’ sandwich bento would look like. For once I relent and will show what she concocted for me today!

The sandwiches part definitely looked American (British?). Secured inside their kitchen paper back, the toasted bread contained raw ham and lettuce with a little mustard.

Two salads: the first one composed of lightly boiled renkon/lotus roots, lightly boiled goya, tobikko/flying fish roe and mayonnaise-based dressing should tempt Bentoist again!

The second salad consisted of two halves of hard-boiled egg, luccola, cress, boiled broccoli, cherry tomatoes and plums. I added dressing kept at work.

This time the Missus did not forget the dessert!

Gastronomic Destinations : Hokkaido (4)

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In spite of all those oysters in Sapporo devoured in Sapporo, our next destination on the following day was Otaru City and its fish market. The latter is located just left of the JR Station exit. Small in scale, itis still a must-see in that citiy as it will offer sights of seafood consumed all over Japan!


Go down the steep narrow alley between the various booths.

Bear in mind that Hokkaido is also famed for its summer vegetables, especially tomatoes, and wild mushrooms!

Fresh and dried fish are ready for consumption or will be sent all over Japan as every stand benefits from a home-delivery system!

Even the numerous Russian tourists buy those crabs!

Salmon, the King of fish!

An Otaru delicacy: “Sankaku/Sand Borer Fish”. A beauty, raw, dried or cooked!

We arrived pretty early in the morning and for once, to get a break from all that fish, looked around for some meat.
Although Hokkaido is celebrated for its beef and mutton, we decided to try chicken instead:


New Naruto is a minuscule place seating less than 20 people.
It is constantly crowded. Either you come early or wait, knowing they might run out of meat, in which case they momentarily close the place!

The prices are simply ridiculous low by any standards. The portions are Gargantuan (thanks to the Russian tourists?) like the above half chicken,

or fried pieces of chicken. We had ordered two of each for the four of us with a couple of beers. We could not finish them all and gave the leftovers to some happy youngsters next door who were waiting for their orders!

New Naruto
Otaru City, Hanaen 1 Chome, 10-10
Tel.: 0134-328003

There is one more in town just in case at
Otaru City, Ironai 1 chome, 1
Tel.: 0134-241233


That particular night, which was our last one in Hokkaido, we decided to have a last try at the local fish.
We found a very reasonable, if a bit modest, sushi restaurant we can safely recommend to all:
Otaru Masasushi

Not only their fish is of good and reasonable, but they also have the merit to serve a couple of local sake.
I found Onikoroshi (Kill the Devil) by Tanaka Brewery (Otaru City) quite amenable with the sushi offering.

If you are not sure what to order, just ask for the Special Set/”Moriawase”.
It comes first with ika somen/thin strips of raw cuttle fish you eat with a sauce you prepare yourself with soy sauce, one raw egg yolk and raw urchin. Just challenge it!

The second dish consists of a plate of sushi (the uni gunkan is not featured as I was no patient enough to wait for it for the pic!) and Japanese soup and pickles!

Otaru Masazushi
Otaru City, Hanaen, 1-1-1 (Sushi Toori/Sushi Street)
Tel.: 0134-220011
Fax: 0134-22-8118
Closed on Wednesdays
HOMEPAGE (Japanese)

I sincerely hope you will find this small series of articles useful if you the chance to visit Hokkaido!

Today’s Lunch box/bento (28)

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Today’s bento could be called “back to the basis”!
The truth is that the Missus iapparently went on a diet (actually I’m the one on a diet) and decided to lighten my bento! I don’t really complain as long as she keeps her standards as far as taste is concerned!

I admit that the “nigiri/rice balls” were a bit of an artistic affair inside their paper box:
Three of them contained fried salmon, were topped with “tobikko/flying fish roe” and partly envelopped in a shiso leaf. The one at the top, middle, contained sweet seaweed/”konbu”.
The one on the left, bottom, was topped with Japanese cucumber pickles and the one on the right, bottom, contained “takuan/Japanese pickled daikon”.

As for the salad, it came as a mixture: boiled and sliced goya, lettuce, half a boiled egg, three small asparaguses rolled and sauteed in bacon, finely chopped greens and cherry tomatoes.
I added dressing kept at work.

No dessert, but I bought myself a few nuts to munch on!

Gastronomic Destinations: Hokkaido (3)

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After that great night at Kita DanDan Auberge in Abashiri City, we drove all day to Wakkanai City at the northenest tip of Japan and took a ferry to spend two days and nights in Rishiri Island. Unfortunately, the weather did not greet us and the constant rain limited our activities. A pity as this island has a lot to offer. Consult these Pages 1, 2 for references!

So, on the fourth, day, we took the ferry back to wakkanai and boarded on a local train to Sapporo City, six hours away. Hokkaido is a big island and travelling the slow way by train will allow you to admire some great views and intriguing sites!

We had in mind the place to help us forget the msfortune of the last two days:
HIRAKU, a Japanese style Oyster and Seafood Bar! A bit of a misnomer as it is a full-fledged Izakaya! They specialize in oyster cuisines and offer no less than 32 preparations!
Looking at the menu was a bit of headache as obviously even the four of us would not have been able to taste everything!
Anyway, we did manage to sample a lot and will describe them succintly in the order we ate them!

-See picture at top: Cold steamed oysters served in Japanese fahion with grated daikon and ponzu dressing.

-“Steak-style Kaki”. The oysters are sauteed like a steak with mushrooms and veg with a steak sauce.

-“Fry-Kaki”. The oysters are dipped in batter and breadcrumbs before deep-fried. They must be served at once to be truly appreciated and they were!

-“Shyoyaki yamame”. We kept our eyes open for other morsels naturally. Yamamame is a small Japanese trout variety. You eat it all, head and tail!

-“Escargot fuu Kaki”. French snail-style oyster oysters. Need I explain? Quite tasty, actually!

-Kaki Haru maki”. Deep-fried oyster Imperial rolls. Both crunchy and juicy. A great snack!

They are also very good at preparing meat as demonstrated by this suteed duck breast!

-Kaki Chiizu”. Oysters steamed inside cheese. Frankly speaking, I don’t have a clue how they make them. I know they do use processed cheese. A great snack again!

-“Kimuchi Nabe”. Oysters cooked on a hot plate with kimchee. We are not so far from Korea after all!

-Some sushi rolls to satisfy our need for carbohydrates! LOL,

-“Kaki Tenpura”. This is the first time ever I ate oysters as tenpura! Not easy to make, I’m sure! Delicious!

-“O soba”. As the place is also renown for its buckwheat noodles, we had a serving to end the meal. A complimentary dessert was served at the end of the meal.

Staff at Hiraku are particularly attentive, friendly and fast. A plus in this kind of big izakaya.
Another plus is their drinks memu, with all the items to satisfy evey taste, including some local sake and French wines. A great place for small groups!


060-0061 Sapporo City, Chuo Ku, Dai Ichi Jyo Nishi, 5 Chome, 17-2, President Matsui Bldg. 100-1202
Tel.: 011-272-6866
Fax: (011)272-6895
Reservations telelephone: (011)241-6165
Opening hours: 17:00~23:00
Closed on Sundays & National Holidays
Cards OK
Homepage (Japanese)