I headed out early this morning to do some bird watching & winter photography. Stopped at a few local ponds and a couple of hours later found myself in the neighboring town of Momoishi only a few minute drive from the Momokawa Sake Factory. I had just rated one of their sakes last night, a smooth Honjozo, and I remarked that I will have to pay a visit to this place.
Well I had time on my hands and I was right down the street from it at a local park so a visit was in order. I walked the grounds of the place taking a few photos and chatted with a few of the warehouse workers that were coming back from their lunch break. “Stop by the office and get the official tour” one of them suggested. I didn’t really want to bother the staff to give a tour to only one person but I thought I’d pay the office a visit and at least pick up a few pamphlets or buy a small bottle (or two) for later. I met a man walking down the hallway and asked if I could take a few photos. He poked his head into the office and called out “hey there’s some foreign guy out here that wants to take some pictures……yea, he speaks some Japanese” he said. Just a moment he told me in Japanese. I was greeted by a charming lady, Ms. Tomoko Fukuchi that just insisted on giving me a personal tour in spite of my protest. I apologized for taking her time for just one person but she said it was quite alright, she didn’t mind at all.
We walked towards the warehouse and bottling area and I had to admit that I’d already visited those areas before asking. She laughed a bit and we changed directions and went to the tank storage area it was an impressive sized room that had eight huge storage tanks. The smell of the koji and sake wafted through the air, like a siren calling my name. I reluctantly pulled myself away and followed Fukuchi-San around the factory as she described the brewing process and rice milling and the various styles of sake and how they differ. She was surprised that I knew as much as I did about sake and even more surprised when I told her I had tried one of their offerings the night before, seems not too many of us “Gaijin” are fond of sake (she obviously has never met a few of our RB folks!).
The last stop was the museum. There was an assortment of old brewing tools along with some drawings of the making of sake from the Edo Jidai (early 1600’s-mid 1860’s). They also had a collection of sake labels from various famous “Kura” (sake breweries) and ads for their sake that dated from the 1920’s. I really felt as if I was in heaven when I found a wall lined with a dozen huge (72 Liter) Taru (Barrels) of sake. I know what I want for my birthday! It was quite an interesting place and to top it off, I received a parting gift of a Futsu-Shu, 200 ml “Cup Sake”. I also bought a few “Masu” (small square wooden cups) with the company logo and a bottle of Daiginjo that was made with a special type of hybrid rice grown in the Aomori Prefecture. It was a bit pricey at $17.00 for a 720 ml bottle but I’m sure it’s going to be delicious!