Koji is a key, but more important is grice.h

gI hope the story of koji was clear to you.h
Kuheiji says that koji is the most important thing of all in determining the taste and fragrance of sake. (gasoline).
For brewed alcoholic beverages, ggasoline (the quality and quantity of glucose) comes first,h not the engine. (Meaning that yeast is not the top priority.)

This koji is griceh processed with our efforts and skills.
Koji is malt rice made from steamed griceh by sprinkling koji fungus and letting it grow on it.

Just like the cepage of wine, sake rice has dozens of varieties.
@NoteF This is called gvarieties of rice most suited to making sakeh designated by the government (about 50 varieties)

The quality of the resulting koji of course differs with rice varieties. (The content of enzymes produced will be different as well.)
And the quality of the gasoline itself will be different according to the rice varieties.

We consider sake to be an alcoholic beverage, but in the first place it is a food product that goes into our mouthsh.
In a food product that goes into our mouths, it's the primary ingredient that is the key to the potential of that dish.

I spoke about koji first because in the case of sake, understanding koji is the shortest way to understand gthe whys about the primary ingredient (rice).h
The factor that determines the taste and fragrance is the potential of the primary ingredient, that is, the rice, and nothing else.
This is most convincing from the userfs viewpoint.

In modern times, sake brewing technologies have been developed in various ways. (The most typical is that of yeast)
However, I can't help by feel that if humans tries to improve the potential of the raw materials technically,
some sort of defect will arise and shorten the material's life.
I really feel that there is a limit to what humans can do or obtain.

Only when everything explained so far is all clear, can we go on to the story of rice varieties (cepage).
Thatfs what sake is about.

Here I will explain about rice by taking examples of totally opposite types of representative varieties. I repeat that rice (starch) breaks up and converts to glucose. The quality of glucose produced is determined by the variety of rice (cepage), affecting the taste and fragrance of the sake.

Let me go on by taking examples of two totally opposite types of representative varieties. T
hose are gGohyakumangokuh and gYamada Nishiki.h

When is your impression of rice planting and harvesting months?h
I guess most people would say, groughly in spring and autumn.h
gBut do you know that the rice planting and harvesting seasons are different according to rice varieties or regions?h

@* I take the examples of two varieties, gGohyakumangokuh and gYamada-Nishikih
@  as a comparison since these two are the easiest for understanding. 

gHave you ever heard of these terms?h
gWaseh or early-maturing variety
gOkuteh or late-maturing variety

They are the same rice plants, but differ in their growing cycles.

A typical early variety is gGohyakumangoku.h@(the main growing area is Niigata.) 
- Rice planting is in April and harvesting at the end of August.


A typical late variety is gYamada-Nishiki.h @(the main growing area is Hyogo.) 
- Rice planting is in June and harvesting in November.
 

gWhat is different in the production cycle between these two?
Elements essential for growing plants are gwater,h gnutrition from the soil,h
and gheat and blessings from the sun.h

In the case of rice, the flowers bloom after pollination, then the temperature during
the following ten days almost completely determines the quality of the rice.

And the difference in temperature between day and night is important during this time of
bearing fruit.

In the growing cycle of an early variety, there is not much difference between the day
and night temperatures.
During the early rice growing period, the temperature is still high when the rice ears are
growing, and there is not much difference in temperatures. We want them to take in sunlight
sufficiently during the day and rest during the night.
It is also hard for people to get to sleep on a sweltering night.
gWithout a big difference in temperatures, wind doesn't occur.h

gWindh is important. The wind dries the surface of rice plants and prevents diseases.

Rice originally grew in the west.
I heard that it was brought from China to South Asia, then to Japan.

Before WWII (before 1945), winters in the Kanto region and north came earlier
and were much more bitter. What was done after the war to enable rice cultivation to even
in the northern regions? The answer is within the history of gvariety improvement.h

In 1955, after ten years the Japanese managed to recover from the war.
The population was also increasing.
The regions north to the Kanto region had been the farming lands since before the war.
In the 1960fs and 70fs, the Japanese economy was rapidly growing.

Industrial or scientific technologies were also adopted into the agricultural field. 

 gTo meet the food demand of the increasing population, we want to grow good rice even in
@regions where the cold season comes earlier or are not suited to growing rice!h

The specific measure taken was gvariety development.h

Varieties of rice that have been developed since 1955 are the rice varieties of today.
One of the representative varieties is gkoshihikari.h 

In other words, it can be said that the history of our modern agriculture is the ghistory of rice variety improvement.h
In the islands of Japan extending from the south to north, rice that originally grew only in the western part of Japan was developed to grow
also in the climate cycle in the regions north to the Kanto region.

Autumn, the season of harvest.

gAutumn, the season of harvest.h Originally rice was of a late production cycle.
The modernization of agriculture came to mean almost the same as gimproving all products to be early varieties.h

Of all the food products that go into our mouths, I find the influence of modern agriculture which enabled the earlier release of products on the market.
(Japanese people like to eat the first harvests of the season.)

Actually before the war, gno good rice was cultivatedh in the regions north to the Kanto region.

Present day gpeoplefs image of good rice growing areas is that of after 1955.h
Before then, grice growing areash were in the regions west of Hyogo prefecture.
Many large sake brewers are located in Kyoto and Hyogo prefectures because those regions
used to be gmajor rice growing areas.h


Now, gwhat are the differences between the substance of the early and late varieties?h
I would like you to recall gmikan mandarin oranges, a fruith that is very familiar to you all.

The size of the rice grains is all small and when you touch them, they are all equally ggritty.h
There is no big difference in the size of grains among rice varieties.
And you donft feel any moisture by just touching.
(In my eyes, the sizes are very different according to the variety)

However, between early and late varieties,
there are differences in gappearance and substance just as in those among fruits.h

The earliest gmikanh start to sell in supermarkets at the end of October.
But these gmikanh are still somewhat gsmall, hard, not sweet enough or juicy enough.h

You might have such an impression.
But, gmikanh sold after New Years are different.
gThey are large, soft, sweet and juicy.h

Actually, the gmikanh has early and late varieties.
Itfs not that early gmikansh were stored for a while to become large, soft, sweet and juicy.

<I find these differences in mikan also in rice.>
EGyohyakumangoku ? small, hard, still greenish, not enough sweetness or water content.
EYamada-Nishiki ? large, soft, sweet, with high water content, and well ripened.

The above differences come from the differences in the blessings of the sun due to the geographical features of Japan stretching from the south to the north,
as well as from the course of temperature differences during the rice growing season according to variety.
I guess grapes are the same.

The grain doesnft break up if it is small and hard.
Yamada-Nishiki is a large, soft, sweet and high water content gmikan.h
So it can break up easily and can be turned into gasoline easily.

Please recall the story of koji.
Koji is a fungus. The food for fungus is gmoisture.
Which contains more moisture, the early or the late variety? @The late variety does.

So, koji that is essential in sake making propagates more with the late rice.
Yamada-Nishiki is the most highly rated sake rice in Japan.

Yamada-Nishiki was born in 1936 in Hyogo prefecture.
Today gYamada Nishikih and gOmachih are the only two varieties that have been in existence since before the war. (Omachi since 1921).

@ * There have been some attempts in recent years to try to reproduce old varieties.
@@ But Ifll skip that because there are only a few.

Gyohyakumangoku was born in 1957 by variety improvement.

 gWhat is the difference between the improved products and those close to the original?h
@(* Please see the attached chart.)

There is a phrase often used by farmers, ggoing back to parents or ancestors.h 

Variety improvement is undertaken for a specific goal by mixing three generations while
considering the features of the local climate.
gIt is to combine various elements such as stable harvests,
resistance to the cold and diseases, and short height.h
When there are three generations, there are 14 varieties at the parent level.
(Gohyakumangoku has 10 parent varieties.)

gGoing back to parents and ancestorsh no matter what you do, ancestral and parental
features appear as generations pass.
It means that gliving things cannot be made, but evolve over a long period of time.h

This phenomenon of raw materials showing the features of the parent generation
- gI find it also in the process of sake making.h
gSake going back to the parents?h

If you put it in the case of sake tasting, it can be described as a gfast condition change.h

In other words, early varieties grow into rice fast,
but git also produces sake that should be drunk within a certain period.h

gWe find these varieties best be enjoyed when they are most charming;
from their late teens to mid-twenties.h

To put it the other way round, my understanding is that only late rice can
gshow good maturity over a long period of time.h

 

It might be described like this.
gAn early variety is like a fresh and slender young woman.
 A late variety is like a mature woman who knows the sweet and bitter things in life.h

It may be easier to choose the gdishes that go well with a particular sakeh if you consider the above features.
Sake made from early rice goes well with light dishes (early dishes) and sake from late rice is good with heavy dishes (late dishes).

However, sake is a product that humans make.
So based on the impression of the raw materials mentioned above, the concept or the direction to take of the individual
sake brewers is greatly reflected and added into the products to be released on the market.

I hope it was all clear to you that the gdifference among varieties (cepage) is found mainly between early and late varieties.h

Good soil makes good products.

Next, I would like to talk about the relationship with gsoilh (terroir) as the old phrase goes,
gGood soil makes good products.h

I mentioned earlier that rice grew originally in the western part of Japan.

Yamada-Nishiki (Hyogo), Omachi (Okayama), Gohyakumangoku (Nigata and Toyama),
Miyama-Nishiki (Nagano) ? these grow in different prefectures.
Even within the same prefecture, there are different places and paddies where they grow.

You cannot pinpoint the exact vineyards like for French wine, but varieties have land types
that are suitable for blossoming and cultivating.
In the case of rice, isnft it the soil (terroir)? 

gAbout how high do you think rice plants grow?h
This is very important to understand rice and soil. It is also related to the soil quality.

Rice after 1955, are all around 90cm tall
This is the result of variety improvements that gmade the height lower.h
Japan is a country of typhoons. Tall plants get blown over easily.

Yamada-Nishiki grows tall to a height of 130cm. Omachi on the left grows 150cm tall.
Rice plants before the war were all this tall. (The older, the taller they were.)

Tall plants tend to fall over more easily and are harder to cultivate,
meaning less harvest yield.
We wanted to make improvements on this, and to include this in the areas to work on.

Please imagine.
To support tall plants, git is the roots underground that will do the work.h

Tall plants ? Easy to fall over ? Deeper growing roots are necessary ? Soil is important
@Soft soil lets the roots grow horizontally ? Hard soil lets the roots grow downward
@Clay soil is better than sand ? Not too overprotective soil is good.

The chart will look like this.
This is probably similar to that of grapes.
Rice, plants and fruits. They are probably all same. Itfs gfrom soil to roots.h

As Japan stretches from the north to south, there are various types of soil according to region.
With these types of soil considered, there are suitable cultivation areas.

Grapes and grains may be perceived to be totally different at a glance, but for me, there are many things in common.
Because they are the same brewed alcoholic beverages.
gThere are limits to what can be done artificially.h

gMy belief is that any food products that go into our mouths are all about the potential of primary raw materials.h
Because even if we try to deliver sake made from natural materials to you, there are limits to what humans can do.
We want to deliver natural products to you. But at the same time, we want to increase the potential of the product.

It may look like a long way round, but actually it is a short way.
That is our challenge to raw materials.
Our company will continue to make efforts in the challenge of raw materials.