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Postcard from Chiyomusubi

Chiyomusubi postcard

This beautifully retro postcard came in the mail yesterday. As soon as I saw the smiling woman with an early Showa period air and the Chiyomusubi name next to her, my heart leapt, as if this was my first love letter. That is, if I could actually remember getting a first love letter! The note just melted my heart. They had sent a thank you note in return for my thank you note. When I researched the name Chiyomusubi, I found the translation “Bound Forever” in my browser page. People say their sake is so appropriate for weddings because of the name, but after visiting Chiyomusubi in Tottori last week, I realized this kura touches you in a way, as their name says, that tugs on your heartstrings for a long, long time and keeps pulling you back.

In December, one of my sake benkyokai friends said she really wanted to go visit Chiyomusubi in Tottori [1] [2]. To visit a sake brewery is always an enticing proposition for me, but she added the magic words “…and crab is in season”. Soon after that, we searched for a flight to Yonago, and learned the brewery, nestled in the center of the sleepy port town, is only ten minutes away from the airport. Sakaiminato is famous for GeGeGe no Kitaro and seafood. Finally, last week, I was on the plane from Haneda with only two things on my mind–Chiyomusubi and crab.

The brewery is located right in the center of town, part of the Mizuki Shigeru Road and has scheduled tours. I did not eat natto or yogurt that morning as their web site suggested. Tsuboi-san, who is in charge of moromi and who enjoys tea ceremony in his spare time, took us around the kura. For over one hour we were guided through the whole process, starting with the rice polishing machine where bags of rice are stacked high. Then we went on to the kojimuro–a warm wood-paneled room where they make koji. We also saw rows of tanks where you can hear the sound of sake bubbling or smell melon and bananas when you lean over to look down into the tank. The ginjo room was specially insulated with stainless steel walls. We finished up at the shochu distilling machines. When we came out, the sales director, Matsumura-san, had a big smile on his face and said, “You lasted over an hour? Usually, it takes less than 30 minutes.” It’s really special to actually be able to look at how one of your favorite sakes is made, and to get to ask questions and chat with people working there. Very nice atmosphere and nice people.

The tour was followed by a tasting. Goriki and Chiyomusubi Tokubetsu Junmai were my favorite. The Chiyomusubi Daiginjo was superb. On top of all the sake I had in the tasting room, I really liked their water, which was very soft and had an especially clean taste. The brewers drive one hour each way every day during the brewing season to Shimane to collect a tanker-full water from a spring near Izumo. I asked if they send the lowest guy on the totem pole to drive up into the mountains for the water. Matusmura-san replied that they send somewhat more experienced drivers since an inexperienced guy once got stuck in a ditch while driving down the winding road.

You can see figures of Kitaro making sake next door to the tasting room.

Kitaro and Nekomusume pressing sake

And, in the shop, there are some interesting Kitaro sake bottles for sale too. Check back and I’ll tell you about some curious items I picked up while I was there.

Pictures from the Chiyomusubi tour.

Discussion

3 Responses to “Postcard from Chiyomusubi”

  1. I think Et-chan got a little carried away in her romantic ode to the wonders of Chiyomusubi. Should I be jealous that a bottle of sake and a postcard warmed her so?

    Posted by Te-chan | January 26, 2008, 11:12 am
  2. You are so special, but you know how I was talking about them for a week. Did you catch Chiyomusubi fever yet?

    Posted by Et-chan | January 26, 2008, 11:52 am

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