Tag Archives: 伊豆の国市

Japanese Festivals: Nue barai Matsuri in Izu Nagaoka, Shizuoka Prefecture-第49回鵺ばらい祭

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The picture of the day: a smiling face inside a monster’s mouth!

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Yesterday I traveled all the way train from Shizuoka City to Izu Nagaoka Station by train and took the the local bus to Yu Rakkasu Park to attend an unusual Matsuri/Japanese Festival!
I managed to arrive one hour before the start of the festivities which allowed me to have a good location at the location and its people!
As in any festival the locals were selling food to the visitors!

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Okonomiyaki and karaage!

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A local specialty, big deep-fried gyoza!

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The stage!

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I saw the students from Nagaoka Junior High School arriving directly from their school!
The lady in the middle is Ms. Kamoshita, Director of the Izu No Kuni City Tourism Bureau who had faxed me the details of the vent!

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Mount Fuji was looking after us all the time!

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The program clearly indicated for everyone’s benefit!

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One of the great staff in attendance who kept me informed me all afternoon!

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A great hapi/festival coat!

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Great kids from Nagaoka Junior High School!
So well-mannered, ever smiling and enthusiastic!
Years ago the festival used to be performed by adults. Now it is exclusively enacted by Nagoka Junior High School!
And from this year boys and girls are equally represented!

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the drummers practicing before the event!

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The “nue/鵺”!
The nue is a monster of old Japanese lore. Check the NUE LORE HERE!
It is monster with the head of a monkey, the body of a tiger and a snake as a tail in Izu Nagaoka.
The legend was brought a lot time ago to Izu Peninsula from Kyoto by a Lord’s wife.
It is a monster/spirit thought to be a bringer of misfortune and illness.
This festival is held every year to make sure it does not appear to mistreat the local inhabitants!

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Great kids again including some big boys!

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One of the very old drums used during the festival!

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A last practice!

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But before the Nue Dance we witnessed a Japanese archery/Kyuudou/弓道 demonstration, which an integral part of the festival, held by the local Japanese Archery Association!

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These two gentlemen might be of a grand age but they did not miss their target!

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Male archers!

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And female archers!

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The nue did not stand a chance!
The target made of paper was subsequently shredded into small pieces to be distributed among the onlookers for good luck!
I got mine, which might come useful when facing the home dragon!

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By then the nue dancers had got ready and were coming out of the changing room!

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Some of the costumes had to be carried by hand!

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Samurais!

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I would like to thank these two young ladies who were so kind to answer this strange foreigner’s questions!

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Peace!

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Getting ready in the cold wind!

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The choreographer giving his last advice!

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And the dance starts!

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The nue and its minions ready to pounce!

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The fever went up a grade with the drumming!

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The nue’s minions are taunting the samurai!

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Mind you the kids inside are no monsters!

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The nue has crept among its minions!

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The minions first attempt to frighten the onlookers!

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There must be some kind of hierarchy among the minions as a few carry big tail snakes!

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The minions are attacking!

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Why have they stopped?

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This is the reason!

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The samurai have come to defend the onlookers by first loosing arrows!

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But the nue’s minions are undaunted and chase the samurai who have to unsheathe their swors!

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All the while the nue is looking at the action from a safe distance!

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Nothing frightening about these two sweet young ladies!

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While the nue kept looking at the action I crept behind it for some photoes!

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Big and horrible tail!

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Nasty head!

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The samurai were starting to get the upper hand!

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Take that!

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The nue’s minons were getting killed one by one!

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The nue’s minoons had all been cut down!

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The Nue still did not intervene!

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Things seemed to be all but lost…

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But this is when the Nue finally came into the fray!

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The drummers lustily encouraged the samurais!

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But the onlookers started throwing beans at it!

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The Nue roars back into the fight!

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But the samurais show no fear!

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The Nue is struck with fear!

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The samurais have started their killing dance!

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The Nue has no chance!

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The Nue is finally down!

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The Town and its citizens are saved again this year!

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Well done, lads and gals!

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The onlookers picking the beans which contributed to the demise of the Nue!

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The two choreographers who teach the kids every year!
They are brothers and volunteers.
As the second generation of choreographers they confided that they are aiming at teaching the next generation to make sure the Festival outlives them!
Well done, gentlemen!

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All the while local geishas working at the hot springs establishments had been stoically waiting for their turn in the cold!

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And they graciously danced for all!
Don’t ask me why I chose this particular lady! LOL

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The Nue mascot!

Looking forward to my next visit to Izu Nagaoka!

RECOMMENDED RELATED WEBSITES

So Good Sushi Restaurant in Nice France
Navigating Nagoya by Paige, Shop with Intent by Debbie, BULA KANA in Fiji, Kraemer’s Culinary blog by Frank Kraemer in New York,Tokyo Food File by Robbie Swinnerton, Green Tea Club by Satoshi Nihonyanagi in Shizuoka!, Mind Some by Tina in Taiwan, Le Manger by Camille Oger (French), The Indian Tourist, Masala Herb by Helene Dsouza in Goa, India, Mummy I Can Cook! by Shu Han in London, Pierre.Cuisine, Francescannotwrite, My White Kitchen, Foodhoe, Chucks Eats, Things that Fizz & Stuff, Five Euro Food by Charles,Red Shallot Kitchen by Priscilla,With a Glass, Nami | Just One Cookbook, Peach Farm Studio, Clumsyfingers by Xethia, PepperBento, Hapabento, Kitchen Cow, Lunch In A Box, Susan at Arkonlite, Vegan Lunch Box; Tokyo Tom Baker, Daily Food Porn/Osaka, Only Nature Food Porn, Happy Little Bento, J-Mama’s Kitchen, Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat, Bento Lunch Blog (German), Adventures In Bento, Anna The Red’s Bento Factory, Ohayo Bento,

Must-see tasting websites:

-Sake: Ichi For The Michi by Rebekah Wilson-Lye in Tokyo, Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen, Warren Bobrow, Cellar Tours, Ancient Fire Wines Blog
-Beer: Another Pint, Please!, Beering In Good Mind: All about Craft Beer in Kansai by Nevitt Reagan!
ABRACADABREW, Magical Craftbeer from Japan
-Whisky: Nonjatta: All about whisky in Japan by Stefan Van Eycken
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery

Non gastronomy must-see sites by Shizuoka Residents

HIGHOCTANE/HAIOKU by Nick Itoh in Shizuoka City

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Shizuoka Agricultural Products: The Yamaguchis’ Benihoppe Strawberry Fields (beginning of October)

Haruka/晴香, Tamako/玉子 and Mitsuo/光雄 Yamaguchi/山口

This the second part as promised of my interview of the Yamaguchi Family, a major grower of strawberries, exclusively of the Benihoppe variety, in Nirayama, Izu Peninsula. Read the first part for better understanding!

As mentioned before, “Benihoppe” or “Red Cheeks” strawberries is a cultivar which was successfully developed no later than in 2002 in Shizuoka Prefecture. It has since been voted as the best-balanced strawberry in Japan, and Izu Peninsula being near Tokyo, we do not see too many of our fruit on our own market stands!

To cut a long story short I was back at Mishima JR Station yesterday where Haruka Yamaguchi picked me up to give me a lift to her parents strawberry fields.

The Yamaguchis own a total of 15 greenhouses for a total of 1,500 tsubo (4,500 square meters), a fairly large property for a single family in this particular area counting for no less than 187 registered farms!
When you realize that their greenhouses stand in many different locations you can understand the sheer work of only opening and closing the roofs depending upon the weather, humidity and temperature every day! No need to say that when torrential rains fall upon them it becomes a real scramble!

The new strawberry seedlings were finally planted on the 15th of September. A couple of seedlings had been cut out and analyzed to ascertain that the flowers buds were forming.

Now, what is that box for?
A beehive will stand on it 5 days before the first strawberry flowers start blooming.
One just can’t pollinate the flowers without them!
Artificial pollination would be too cumbersome and will not be uniform with the consequence of misshaped fruits.
The Yamaguchis breed their own bees in 16 beehives, one for each greenhouse.
Don’t worry, they eat and share the honey!

Fruit size will depend on how well the flowers are pollinated.
Only the strict minimum of fertilizer will be dispensed until the soil is covered with vinyl sheets.
Weeds will have to be picked out by hand until then.
No pesticides will be used either.
Insects-eating insects will then be introduced!

The Yamaguchis will use large vinyl sheets to close the soil between the seedlings and rows. Instead of making holes in the sheets which tend to damage the seedlings, they join the sheets between the plants with staplers.
Now, do you see the blue tube running between the plants?

They are actually water hoses (or pipes, as you like)

The water springs out of the tube exactly between the plants.
That is, there will be enough space left between the vinyl sheets for the seedlings to be watered twice a week for 15 minutes.
Clever, isn’t it?

Maintaining the plants and picking the fruit is impossible work to do standing or kneeling.
The Yamaguchis and many other strawberry growers use that clever contraption to “run/roll” between the rows and work in relative ease!

Strawberry season lasts from about November 15th and 31st of May.
The best season are December and May as for sweetness. February see the largest fruits while the largest production occurs in March.

Look forward to my next report in December!

Yamaguchi Benihoppe Strawberry Farm
410-2114, Izu no Kuni, Nan-jo, 8
Tel.: 055-949-2330

RECOMMENDED RELATED SITES:
Warren Bobrow, Bread + Butter, Zoy Zhang, Hungry Neko, Think Twice, Frank Fariello, Mangantayon, Hapabento, Elinluv Tidbit Corner, Tokyo Terrace, Maison de Christina, Chrys Niles,Lexi, Culinary Musings, Wheeling Gourmet, Comestiblog, Chronicles Of A Curious Cook, Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Palate To Pen, Yellin Yakimono Gallery, Tokyo Terrace, Hilah Cooking, More than a Mount Full, Arkonite Bento, Happy Little Bento; 5 Star Foodie; Jefferson’s Table; Oyster Culture; Gourmet Fury; Island Vittles; Good Beer & Country Boys; Rubber Slippers In Italy; Color Food daidokoro/Osaka;/a; The Witchy Kitchen; Citron Et Vanille, Lunsj Med Buffet/Estonian Gastronomy (English), Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat, Chrisoscope

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Shizuoka Agricultural Products: The Yamaguchis’ Benihoppe Strawberry Fields (end of July)

“Benihoppe” or “Red Cheeks” strawberries is a cultivar which was successfully developped no later than in 2002 in Shizuoka Prefecture. It has since been voted as the best-balanced strawberry in Japan, and Izu Peninsula being near Tokyo, we do not see too many of our fruit on our own market stands!

Now, by sheer coincidence a university student of mine, Haruka Yamaguchi/山口春香, just happened to come from a family, based in Nirayama located in the newly named Izu No Kuni City/伊豆の国市, who have switched to the growing of Benihoppe Strawberries as soon as their cultivar was made available through their cooperative!

To make things even easier, Mr. Izuzawa/伊豆沢秀慶, belonging to the government-sponsored local JA (Japan Agriculture) office, was there on hand to provide me with piles of welcome information. Mind you, I had done a bit of preparation as I had asked Haruka to distribute some business cards to the local farming community!

Mitsuo/光雄 and Tamako/玉子 Yamaguchi are the second generation of strawberry growers in their family. Strawberry culture is big in that particular area as it counts no less than 187 registered farms!
The Yamaguchis’ plot covers 1,500 tsubo (4,500 square meters), a fairly sizeable land in this country, and I don’t include other pieces of land here and there they use for re-planting and so on!
As I said, they switched from Akihime Strawberries to Benihoppe Strawberries as soon possible, and this was certainly a good move.
They employ 3 people on a permanent basis and a couple more at harvest time.

Strawberry culture is more complicated than it looks at first, and I didn’t realize how much I would have to go through (and more later) through this interview.
Abroad, for purposes of commercial production, plants are propagated from runners and, in general, distributed as either bare root plants or plugs. Cultivation follows one of two general models, annual plasticulture or a perennial system of matted rows or mounds. A small amount of strawberries are also produced in greenhouses during the off season.
Now, the Japanese seem to do all that at the same time.
End of March every year the original strawberry seedlings are first acquired from Cooperative nurseries and planted under into a “parent soil”.
Runners are encouraged to developped and are re-planted in small elongated pots called “Nira” (as of Nirayama) pots, an idea locally developped.

Interestingly enough, the “nira” pots are not filled with soil, but with a mixture of peat moss and shredded palm fronds and some fertilizer.

The fertilizer is “IBSI 1” sold at the Cooperative. The Yamaguchis were kind enough to show me a bag of it and

its contents. If one can manipulate it with bare hands (Mrs. Yamaguchi’s in this case) there is little doubt the fertilizer is easy on the environment!

The runners are encouraged onto new seedlings into at least 3 successive “nira” pots.

The strawberry plants will be cultivated separately in open air until the middle of August.

Then the vynil covers will be drawn over the greenhouses and ventilators will reduce the temperature as low as 15~18 degrees Celsius to “trick” the strawberries into believing thay are back into winter.

This is the easy way…
Until 15 years ago, when giant refrigerating ventilators were not used, all the seedlings had to be carried by truck up on the slopes of Mount Fuji as high as the Second Trek Station!

By the middle of September, one seedling will be completely cut out and examined to decide whether the time is ripe for re-planting in real soil inside greenhouses.

The greenhouses are already being prepared and this does involve more work and costly specialized equipment.

The method will then be more traditional with plasticulture system. In this method, raised beds are formed each year, fumigated, and covered with plastic to prevent weed growth and erosion.
Holes will be opened for individual re-planting.

The greenhouses along the road crossing the rice paddies.

Harvesting will start in November and lasts until May with up to 6 peaks.

But that is for the next report!

Yamaguchi Benihoppe Strawberry Farm
410-2114, Izu no Kuni, Nan-jo, 8
Tel.: 055-949-2330

RECOMMENDED RELATED SITES:
Warren Bobrow, Bread + Butter, Zoy Zhang, Hungry Neko, Think Twice, Frank Fariello, Mangantayon, Hapabento, Elinluv Tidbit Corner, Tokyo Terrace, Maison de Christina, Chrys Niles,Lexi, Culinary Musings, Wheeling Gourmet, Comestiblog, Chronicles Of A Curious Cook, Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Palate To Pen, Yellin Yakimono Gallery, Tokyo Terrace, Hilah Cooking, More than a Mount Full, Arkonite Bento, Happy Little Bento; 5 Star Foodie; Jefferson’s Table; Oyster Culture; Gourmet Fury; Island Vittles; Good Beer & Country Boys; Rubber Slippers In Italy; Color Food daidokoro/Osaka;/a; The Witchy Kitchen; Citron Et Vanille, Lunsj Med Buffet/Estonian Gastronomy (English), Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat, Chrisoscope

Please check the new postings at:
sake, shochu and sushi

Shizuoka Beer 7/2: Hansharo Beer/Kurayanarusawa Brewery-Tarozaemon

tarozaemon

The weather having definitely turned warmer, I just becomes too difficult to get away from real beer! Time again to delve back into more Shizuoka micro-breweries brews!
The Good Beer and Country Boys in Nagoya will get tempted!

This particular brew, “Tarozaemon is another Pilsen type by Kurayanarusawa in Izu-Nagaoka (Izu no Kuni City in Izu Peninsula)

Hansharo Beer/Kurayanarusawa Brewery-Tarozaemon
Ingredients: Grain Malt, Hops, Yeast
Alcohol: 5%
Contents: 300ml
Live yeast, unfiltered, unpasteurized.

Clarity: Very clear
Colour: Golden
Foam: Long head, fine bubbles
Aroma: Dry, oranges, bread
Taste: Shortish tail. Dry. Oranges, bread.
Solid, refreshing impression

Overall: Very refreshing, easy to drink. Thirst-quaffing.
Light, but solid.

Kurayanarusawa Brewery
Shizuoka Ken, Izu no Kuni Shi, Naka, 272-1
Tel.: 055-949-1208
Sales on site or through the Internet (Japanese)
Visits possible
Restaurant on site

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Must-see tasting websites:
-Sake: Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen
-Beer: Good Beer & Country Boys, Another Pint, Please!
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery
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Please check the new postings at:
sake, shochu and sushi

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Shizuoka Beer 7/1: Hansharo Beer/Kurayanarusawa Brewery-Masako

hansharo-masako

The weather having turned for the warmer these days, I felt it was time to delve back into more Shizuoka micro-breweries brews!
The Good Beer and Country Boys in Nagoya will get tempted!

This particular brew, “Masako” by Kurayanarusawa in Izu-Nagaoka (Izu no Kuni City in Izu Peninsula) is a bit extra0rdinary: The master Brewer also works at Bandai Brewery (sake and shochu in Shizenji, Izu Peninsula) and after consulting Denbei Kawamura, the man who revolutionized sake in Shizuoka Prefecture, he used Shizuoka HD-1 usually utilized in brewing sake!

I can tell you I’m not one to complain!

Hansharo Beer/Kurayanarusawa Brewery-Masako
Ingredients: Grain Malt, Hops, HD-1 Yeast (Shizuoka)
Alcohol: 5%
Contents: 300ml
Live yeast, unfiltered, unpasteurized.

Clarity: Very clear
Colour: Dark orange
Foam: Longish, fine bubbles
Aroma: Strong, oranges, bread
Taste: Well-rounded with a comparatively soft attack. Shortish tail. Some welcome acidity with a dry finish.
Dry persimmons, memories of oranges. Bread. Oranges reappearing later.

Overall: Very refreshing, easy to drink. Thirst-quaffing. Goes well with a snack. Softer than expected.

Kurayanarusawa Brewery
Shizuoka Ken, Izu no Kuni Shi, Naka, 272-1
Tel.: 055-949-1208
Sales on site or through the Internet (Japanese)
Visits possible
Restaurant on site

Please check the new postings at:
sake, shochu and sushi

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日本語のブログ
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Shizuoka Beer: Kuraya Narusawa Brewery


The Japan Blog List

Please check the new postings at:
sake, shochu and sushi

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日本語のブログ
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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!

KURAYA NARUSAWA
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
HOMEPAGE