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Urano Sake Brewery was established during the Edo period in 1864. This is the only brewery in this area.  The brewery has produced sake with a traditional, tried-and-true recipe for six generations over 140 years.  Previously they were engaged in the rice trading business for the local government (feudal. Later, to increase the value of their goods, they started brewing sake with their rice.  They use pure, underground-spring water, drawn from their private well.  The main brand is ‘Kiku-ishi’(Chrysanthemum Stone) named after the natural rare rocks which have patterns of chrysanthemum on their surface.  They make sake in winter season from November to March and sell it after about six months, because it is easy to control the temperature and newly harvested rice is available for brewing.

Some more facts about Urano Sake Brewery ...
  • Urano Sake Brewery was established during the Edo period in 1864.
  • Rice to make sake is much bigger than normal rice.
  • The middle part of rice is used for sake brewing.
  • Rice needs koji and yeast to start fermentation.
  • Fermentation starter (shubo) is made from koji, steamed rice, yeast and water.
  • Brewery master Toji, keeps adding extra koji, steamed rice, and water and stops adding on the 2nd day of 4-days of fermentation.
  • Brewery master Toji comes to Urano Brewery in October each year.
  • It is best to drink sake within 6 months from the date of bottling.
  • Sake is sterilized at a temperature of 60~65°C.

This is a diagram of the process of brewing Kikuishi brand sake at the Urano Sake Brewery.

The back of the brewery

The side of the brewery

The Urano Sake Brewery. The brown ball to the left is a ball of cedar traditionally used by sake brewery's to show the age of the sake.

The cedar ball is bought new when the sake is starting to ferment and it's green, as the months pass it turns brown telling the age of the years of th

The owner and manager of Urano Sake Brewery

Steaming the rice

After an hour the rice is ready ...

Brewery Master Toji, takes a ball of rice and feels it with his hands and "knows" when it's ready by his many years of experience.

It's more dependable than technology as they only have minutes to determine if the rice is complete or not.

Rice is shovelled into large bowls and then taken to be cooled down.

When it is 100°C and it cools down to 30°C, Toji can tell the temperature ±3°C!

Once it is cooled down microbes are added. This is a secret process that we could not watch.

An empty steamer basket

Large storage barrels of sake

The large barrels of Moromi (unrefined fermening sake)

Here is the fermenting rice

This is an old Fune, or sake pressing and filtration compressor that was used in the olden days, now the sake is filtered using newer equipment.

Some of the old architecture of the buildings, very neat!

This is the new filtration system that produces the drinkable sake and seperates out the rice. The left over rice can be used for pickling

Toji, the brewery master at the Urano Sake Brewery.

 

“Suzume no Yado” was established in 1974 by the father of Mr. Ichiro Osawa, the current chef.  He built the new restaurant where it stands now in 1992.  He served his apprenticeship in Tokyo where he learned “Tokyo style” soba making. He serves all kinds of Japanese style dishes made from fresh, seasonal ingredients.  Mr. Ichiro Osawa demonstrated how soba is made and I got to try myself.  It was harder than it looked!  He told us that soba you purchase in a grocery store takes 5 minutes to boil and prepare, his only takes 30 seconds and pure soba only takes 15 seconds.  Makes you think about all the additives that are added to food you buy in a grocery!

Everyone eating lunch, Japanese style ... on the floor.

The chef at this restaurant is very well known for making soba noodles.

It creates a flower shape in the dough.

Time to flatten ...

Large rolling pins used to flatten the soba dough evenly.

It starts as a circle ...

now it's a square!

Look at the concentration!

Preparing to fold the dough to start the cutting process.

Once the folding is complete, it is 6 layers tall.

Let the cutting begin ...

Wait a minute, I'm not too sure about this ...

This isn't too bad ... seems pretty easy.

Can you come back and help! It took me a minute to get the rythem because the knife is actually used after the cut to barely nudge the board over.

My soba!

 

Masuzuka Miso was established in 1928. It is surrounded with a great environment for miso making: the clean stream of Yahagi river and mild climate throughout the year.  There are 15 reformed buildings which used to be hangars for airplanes during WW2. The kamikaze pilots were trained here.  They use only non-genetically engineered soy beans and strain to the production method of natural fermentation.

Some more facts about Masuzuka Miso house ...
  • Miso is a soya beans paste.
  • Miso came into Japan from China.
  • Miso native to Aichi prefecture is hatchomiso.
  • The first step of Miso preparation process is select and wash the beans.
  • The process of crushing and shaping soft and steamed soybeans is misodama.
  • Misodama with microorganism are transferred to koji room for fermenting.
  • The final process of making Masuzuka Miso is its storage for 1.5 years.

Some pictures and information about making miso.

Equipment used to produce soy bean balls. When the president was a kid it took 30 people to do the processes of these machines, now just 4.

This is a miso ball covered with microbes. It is the beginning process and you can eat it for 1 day, this is never sold in the open market.

Look at the size of these barrels!

These barrels are not made any longer by anyone in Japan. At Masuzuka Miso House the newest barrel is 50 years old and the oldest is 200 years old!

This room was used during WWII to house and train kamakazi pilots. The president told us that miso in this room continues to win awards every year.

Miso is stored for 550 days during the fermenting process.

This room is the vision and soul of the President of Masuzuka Miso House, the room will eventually store the largest miso barrels.

Me tasting the liquid that forms at the top of the miso barrels while ferminting ... it is thick, super salty, soy sauce like liquid ... not good.

These containers will each feed a family of 5, 3 bowls of miso a day (per member), every day for 300 years ... that's 1,642,500 bowls of miso!