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Sake of the Week #041: Otokoyama Junmai Daiginjo

“You mean THE Otokoyama?” I do not remember much around the conversation before or after this question, but I do remember one time someone asked me if I was talking about “The Otokoyama” when the name came up. This Otokoyama Junmai Daiginjo we tasted on Saturday is so classic and it felt so appropriate to call this bottle “The Otokoyama”.

Takase-sensei invited Yamazaki-san from Hokkai Otokoyama from Asahikawa, Hokkaido to benkyokai on Saturday at Mitsuya. He shared an interesting story behind the name with the gang. In today’s market, you find 18 or 19 “Otokoyama” brands from different brewers. In the 1920s there were over 100 Otokoyama brands throughout Japan. The name of sake, Otokoyama, actually appeared in some Ukiyoe from Edo period back in the 17th century, and the name was a synonym for good sake around that period.

“We have over 300 years of history with the name Otokoyama.” Yamazaki-san said. Somehow, 300 years of history does not make sense for a brewer for the new territory of Japan, Hokkaido. People from other parts of Japan immigrated there a bit over 100 years ago. So, Yamazaki-san went on and explained the actual Otokoyama brand was started by a brewer in Itami in Hyogo the 17th century. Yamazaki-san’s family tracked down the descendant of the brewery and property and acquired the name from the original Otokoyama brewer.

I have never been to Asahikawa, but Otokoyama’s Sake Museum attracts an amazing number of people from all over the world to the coldest city in Japan-150,000 people a year! So, it’s time for me to plan a trip there to visit and to see the penguins.

Link to the Otokoyama Web Site in English


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