Tuesday, April 20, 2010

(*hic*) Drinking on the job (*hic*)

Back in November of '09, the boys and I headed over to the local brewery during office hours for a little civic inspection tour of the Momokawa Sake Factory. This was official business. I'm not kidding. The morning that day (a Monday as I recall – well played, Japan, well played indeed!) was intentionally set aside for the sole purpose of visiting the sake factory, taking a guided tour of the facilities, and sampling some of their fine local vintage.

Momokawa (which means "peach river") brand sake is famous throughout Japan. It is said to be one of the top brands for sake brewing in the country, if not the world. There's even a franchise in Oregon that produces sake using methods replicating those found here in Aomori. The climate in both these places is well-suited to the master vintner's needs. Check it out here for more information and even to purchase some of your own. "A glass of sake a day keeps bad spirits away!" (I don't know if anybody's ever said that, but they should have if they didn't.)

The beginning of the guided tour. As you can see here, the process is very simple. You start with a small anime character carrying a backpack filled with rice. He must safely deliver the rice into various holding bins and distilleries while dodging red circles and blue rectangles. If he fails he must commit seppuku and await his replacement. If successful, the rice juice is spat out at the bottom and...VOILĂ€...sake is made!
A very excellent mural depicting rice preparation and distillation around the time of the Meiji Restoration.
Here's what the factory floor looks like today.
A traditional Japanese room reserved for drinking sake and polite socializing located on the factory grounds. 
Momokawa Sake Babes – eat your hearts out Budweiser Bimbos! Sekushi ne?
(from left to right) Ruairi, James, myself, and our kind Japanese tour guide and host. I call it, "Three Shmoes And A Japanese Joe."