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Enjoy traditional Japanese culture at a sake brewery and a historic house in Otsu City.:Photo Trip Reports

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Enjoy traditional Japanese culture at a sake brewery and a historic house in Otsu City.

Travel Reporter

Dusty Wittman (USA)
Li Ying Li (China)
Masako Saito (Japan)

Date
Jan 15, 2012

Learn about the old art of making sake at the Hirai Shoten sake brewery including a tasting of their delicious sake selection followed by a trip back in time to the Meiji Era at the Hyakuchokan house.

  • Enjoy traditional Japanese culture at a sake brewery and a historic house in Otsu City.

    The entrance of the Hirai Shoten Sakagura (sake brewery) as seen from the quaint covered shopping arcade street.

  • Enjoy traditional Japanese culture at a sake brewery and a historic house in Otsu City.

    The welcoming entrance to the brewery beckons customers to come in.

  • Enjoy traditional Japanese culture at a sake brewery and a historic house in Otsu City.

    A lovely showroom displaying a great selection of sake along with some handicrafts from around the world.

  • Enjoy traditional Japanese culture at a sake brewery and a historic house in Otsu City.

    Mr. Hirai explains the difference between sweet and dry sake.

  • Enjoy traditional Japanese culture at a sake brewery and a historic house in Otsu City.

    Sake rice is rice that has been polished to remove the outer part of the grain. This exposes the starchy part. Depending on how much of the grain is removed determines the quality of the sake.

  • Enjoy traditional Japanese culture at a sake brewery and a historic house in Otsu City.

    The rice is then steamed in this giant pot. The wooden shovels of the past have been replaced with modern aluminum and fiberglass ones.

  • Enjoy traditional Japanese culture at a sake brewery and a historic house in Otsu City.

    Mr. Hirai is explaining the delicate process of turning dry grains of rice into perfectly steamed rice ready to be made into sake.

  • Enjoy traditional Japanese culture at a sake brewery and a historic house in Otsu City.

    On the left are huge, 3,000L, barrels containing the main mash which is a mixture of steamed rice, mold, yeast, and water.

  • Enjoy traditional Japanese culture at a sake brewery and a historic house in Otsu City.

    The main mash (moromi) is fermented for 2-3 weeks and during the process, carbon dioxide bubbles out of the mixture.

  • Enjoy traditional Japanese culture at a sake brewery and a historic house in Otsu City.

    Dusty is inspecting the mash.

  • Enjoy traditional Japanese culture at a sake brewery and a historic house in Otsu City.

    Mr. Hirai is explaining the filtration process. The fermented rice is pumped into these long cloth bags and then pressed to separate the liquid from the remaining bits of rice.

  • Enjoy traditional Japanese culture at a sake brewery and a historic house in Otsu City.

    This is the press that is used to squeeze the bags. A tank below it catches the filtered sake.

  • Enjoy traditional Japanese culture at a sake brewery and a historic house in Otsu City.

    Time for a taste!

  • Enjoy traditional Japanese culture at a sake brewery and a historic house in Otsu City.

    Dusty is savoring the smell and delicate flavors of the cold sake.

  • Enjoy traditional Japanese culture at a sake brewery and a historic house in Otsu City.

    Posing for a final picture with our gracious host, Mr. Hirai.

  • Enjoy traditional Japanese culture at a sake brewery and a historic house in Otsu City.

    The sake was so good, some of us bought a bottle to take home!

  • Enjoy traditional Japanese culture at a sake brewery and a historic house in Otsu City.

    After the brewery tour, we walked down the street to visit an old house called Hyakuchokan. It was built over 100 years ago and is a reminder of the old bustling days of Otsu City in the Meiji Era.

  • Enjoy traditional Japanese culture at a sake brewery and a historic house in Otsu City.

    The entrance of the home now serves as a display area for photos and information about its history along with information about local events in Otsu City.

  • Enjoy traditional Japanese culture at a sake brewery and a historic house in Otsu City.

    A view into the garden is said to bring good luck.

  • Enjoy traditional Japanese culture at a sake brewery and a historic house in Otsu City.

    The beautifully maintained garden.

  • Enjoy traditional Japanese culture at a sake brewery and a historic house in Otsu City.

    The original well still has water in it. The water temperature remains constant year round.

  • Enjoy traditional Japanese culture at a sake brewery and a historic house in Otsu City.

    Pulling up the bucket full of water is hard work. In the past, this was the only water for the house.

  • Enjoy traditional Japanese culture at a sake brewery and a historic house in Otsu City.

    Even after so many years, the charcoal stove is in perfect condition. And, this kitchen still has a dirt floor.

  • Enjoy traditional Japanese culture at a sake brewery and a historic house in Otsu City.

    This old table offers a nice view of the shopping arcade outside. From here, it is easy to imagine the old days.

  • Enjoy traditional Japanese culture at a sake brewery and a historic house in Otsu City.

    The gallery and cafe area is filled with old artifacts, maps, pictures, paintings, and drawings from the Meiji Era. It is really interesting to see what Otsu City used to look like.

  • Enjoy traditional Japanese culture at a sake brewery and a historic house in Otsu City.

    An antique handmade stain glass lamp greets guests as they walk by, reminding them of the "good ole days."

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