Sunday, April 29, 2012


Ochoko is the small cup for drinking sake. There are lots of types (shape, size and material), but they are all small.

There are questions on the internet like "why is the ochoko so small?". I found many different historical and technical reasons but for me, I just feel they are beautiful. When you drink sake with ochoko, you have to repeat the action of "pouring and drinking". Sometimes another parson will pour the sake for you. This action adds to the beauty of drinking sake.

These are a pair of cups I purchased a few days ago. They are not ochokos but the size and the shape is perfect for drinking sake. They are made by a local artist (Tilly Juls) in Melbourne, she makes ceramic wears and jewellery inspired by bones and teeth.

Monday, April 23, 2012


Kan-zake means hot sake. The temperature is up to you. I like 40 to 45˚C, but in winter sometimes I prefer really hot one as 50 to 60˚C.

Tin Sake Warmer

from left to right container-A, B and C

Sakenet has a good tool for Kan-zake, "Tin Sake Warmer". You can make your kan-zake easily with this tool.
(1) make boiling water with a kettle or a pot.
(2) put container-B into container-A.
(3) pour the hot water into A/B.
(4) pour sake into C.
(5) lower container-C into A/B.
(6) wait a minute or until the sake is heated up to the temperature you like.
(7) pour the heated sake into an o-choko (sake cup) and enjoy!

If you don't have a "Tin Sake Warmer"...
(1) make boiling water with a pot.
(2) pour sake into a tokkuri bottle.(3) put the tokkuri into the pot.
(4) wait a minute or until the sake is heated up to the temperature you like.
(5) pour the heated sake into an o-choko (sake cup) and enjoy!

If you don't have a tokkuri...
You can use a glass or a small bottle instead of a tokkuri.


If you don't have an o-choko...
You can use a small glass or a small cup (like an espresso cup) instead of an o-choko.

(image from

So you don't need any special crockery in the end! However plates and cups are part of Japanese food culture, and we believe it makes it taste better.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

There's no place like home...

Last week I ventured back to Tokyo. I sampled some fantastic food and sake and had the chance to visit some really good Izakayas. As one always does on a holiday (especially ones re-visiting homeland) I ate and drank too much but fortunately not feeling the aftermath except nostalgia for times gone by.

Yakigai Uguisu (specializing shell fish & sake)

TENYUDO (like small bar around the corner)
Ginmasu (Sake bar near Ginza 4-chome, cheap)
Kakuyama (traditional izakaya & family atmosphere)
Nekoya ( Sake bar near Tsukiji fish market charming mama-san & good sake)
Shinpachi (very good izakaya near Tokyo station, Shinkame speciallist)

Sasala (worth a visit for lunch if you ever have the opportunity to be in the area or decide to vist Shinkame)

Friday, April 20, 2012


Bentenmusume (辨天娘) is one of the smallest breweries in Japan. The brewery is located in Wakasa town, Tottori prefecture. All of the workers are the family members. In summer, they make Goriki rice on their farm. From the beginning of winter, they start brewing with the Goriki rice, and other rice from farmers from the same prefecture. You can find the rice farmer's name on each of their bottles.

Bentenmusume believes that you should always drink sake with food, and Kan-zake (warm/hot sake) is best. Bentenmusume's sake has a subtle flavor at room temperature. However, when it is heated the flavor becomes slightly stronger as the temperature helps bring out the subtle flavors of the sake.
(A sake which has strong flavor at cold or room temperature will be too strong when it is warm or hot.)

My favorite is Goriki and Ao Label (Blue Label). Ao label is made from the leftover rice of other Bentenmusume labels. So this bottle does not have a rice name or a farmer's name.

Saturday, April 14, 2012


Goriki (強力) is a local rice from Tottori prefecture. It was once extinct because of the difficulty of it's farming. However some breweries (Hiokizakura is one of them) revived this great rice in the 1980's.

Goriki has a unique character, and the sake made with Goriki is best as Kan-zake (warm/hot sake).

Upper line from left to right,
  • Hiokizakura, Junmaiginjo-Densho-Goriki
  • Hiokizakura, Junmai-Goriki80%
  • Hiokizakura, Tanzo-Kimoto-Goriki
  • Hiokizakura, Goriki-Junmaidaiginjo
Lower line from left to right,
  • Bentenmusume, Junmai-Goriki
  • Suiryu, Kimoto-Dobu(Genshu)
  • Taka, Yamahai-Gorik

Hiokizakura and Bentenmusume are breweries in Tottori prefecture. Hiokizakura is one of the  two breweries who revived Goriki rice. Bentenmusume uses Goriki rice grown at their own farm.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Hiokizakura : Junmai Goriki 80% polished

Hiokizakura is one of the best breweries for sake made with Goriki rice. I love this "Junmai Goriki 80% polished". The rice is organic Goriki rice from Uchida farm. The strong taste is like a full bodied wine, but it is mild and clear at the same time. At room temperature acidity is strong. When the sake is heated, the sweetness becomes stronger and balances with the acidity.

Today's sakana (food along with drinks) is prosciutto. I lived in Spain for 6 months last year, so I am a big fan of jamon now. The girl at the deli said this is Spanish prosciutto, so this must be jamon(!?). Anyway, prosciuto and this warm Goriki is a nice match.

Tonight's matching test result
O : Prosciutto
O : Salad (lettuce and rocket, no dressing)
O : Blue cheese (Castello blue)
X : Camembert cheese

Saturday, April 7, 2012


Kai-ire is an important task of sake brewing. It helps the flowing of contents in the barrel, and keeps the Sake Moromi (main mash) healthy.

I did Kai-ire for our swimming pool. It keeps the pool clean.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Learning about Sake

The Book of Sake : A Connoisseur's Guide (Philip Harper) is a perfect book for studying Sake in English. I'm using this book for my study - it is also useful to know how I can explain about Sake in English.

Philip Harper and Yoshito Kinoshita (Kinoshita-shuzo CEO)

Philip Harper is the master brewer at Kinoshita-shuzo. He shared his ideas and passion about Sake Brewing with us in our "Sakagura Tour, March 2012".

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

What is Junmai

There are 3 different types of sake, based on the ingredients.

(1) 純米 (Junmai) : rice, koji (moulding rice), water
(2) 本醸造 (Hon-jozo) : rice, koji, water, spirits
(3) 普通酒 (normal sake) : rice, koji, water, spirits, sugars and acids

So, Junmai is made from rice (and water). Junmai means 100% rice.

Junmai is the original style of sake. Normal sake are from 1930s. Hon-jozo is from 1970s. However, Junmai makes up only 10% of the total production.

At Sakenet Australia we only stock Junmai. We believe Junmai is the best and we also want to support the breweries that produce fine Junmai Sake. We will discuss this point further in coming posts...

Tuesday, April 3, 2012