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Saying Goodbye to Summer With a Sip
Ozaemon from Toki city, Gifu great balance of umami and acidity

Ozaemon from Toki city, Gifu great balance of umami and acidity

September signals the waning of summer and the inevitable change in seasons. It’s a profound time for all who love summer. In NYC, the days remain warm and mostly sunny. It’s a nice transition to what will follow. September is also a time when sake brewers everywhere debut their newest offerings. And for past five years, it’s also a time to welcome in a new batch of sake to New York City by a bevy a sake brewers who come to our fair city and show their latest wares at the NY Sake Expo. We happily accepted the task of checking out the Expo (as we have done the past few years) and enjoyed talking to many of the representatives and brewers from sakaguras all over Japan as well as some in the U.S. Please join us in recognizing and enjoying the magic that is sake...

Kakeya from Unnan city, Shimane. Full of Umami, sooooo good!

Kakeya from Unnan city, Shimane. Full of Umami, sooooo good!

Shochu maker Kyoya from Miyazaki, introducing Heihachiro. It goes well with fatty food, such as Tuna Tartar so well!

Shochu maker Kyoya from Miyazaki, introducing Heihachiro. It goes well with fatty food, such as Tuna Tartar so well!

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Namazake: A Fresh and Lively Early Sign of Spring in a Glass
Shichi-hon-Yari Namazake in  Edo Kiriko  glass, by Kamata Kiriko, with typical  Girls' Day(Hinamatsuri)  sweets, Hina-Arare. 

Shichi-hon-Yari Namazake in Edo Kiriko glass, by Kamata Kiriko, with typical Girls' Day(Hinamatsuri) sweets, Hina-Arare. 

As we head into March and spring is getting closer, one of our favorite parts of the end of the winter road is here — namazake, which is the early spring sake that, like it’s fleeting cousin sakura (cherry blossoms), is best enjoyed fresh and savored while it is here. Namazake appears just after the sake brewing season ends, which happily is now.

Most sake is pasteurized twice to halt the work of the enzymes, stabilizing the brew for a long shelf life. Namazake forgoes the sterilization in favor of fresh, spring tastes. Once opened, namazake should be refrigerated and is optimal for two weeks or so. If unopened, you are good for around six months for optimal flavor.

Shichihon-Yari in Edo Kiriko glass bt  Horiguchi Kiriko

Shichihon-Yari in Edo Kiriko glass bt Horiguchi Kiriko

So, on the last weekend of February, we knew it was time to head to one of our favorite places for sake, Sakaya, in the East Village of New York (a fine neighborhood and one with a decided Japanese presence among many eclectic influences). Sakaya is NY’s first and only shop totally dedicated to the elixir. Owners Rick and Hiroko are always welcoming and full of helpful advice.

We partook in a tasting of Shichi Hon Yari from the Tomita Shuzo brewery in Shiga Prefecture. It is a wonderful melange of fresh tastes, drier than your typical namazake in a really nice way — a good mix of earthy, grassy fruitiness. Yes, we bought some and are enjoying a small glass as this is writing. There are many great namazakes offered this time of year, so we encourage you to check out this year’s batch while it’s here and fresh.

Kiriko Day — Another Reason to Celebrate in Early July

Kiriko glasses are a fantastic accompaniment for chilled sake and food in Summer. July 5th is Kiriko day in Japan to celebrate the history of this style glass making, distinguished by designs cut into the glass.

Edo Kiriko was popularized in the mid-19th century by Kagaya Kyubei. It is said that Commodore Perry was very impressed by the intricate cuts on the gift glasses he received. Since then, the technique has been developed and today, artisans enjoy the liberty of designing new and contemporary versions of Kiriko, adding to the evolving legacy.

Guinomi Kai by  Horiguchi Kiriko 

Guinomi Kai by Horiguchi Kiriko 

Guinomi, Hane and Tabane by  Horiguchi Kiriko 

Guinomi, Hane and Tabane by Horiguchi Kiriko 

Another encounter with Kanazawa artist in NYC
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田聡美さんの個展に伺いました。ヴィンテージのレースをモチーフにしたとても素敵な作品ばかり、創作方法もユニークです。おっとりとした人柄も魅力的な方でした。

Visited Satomi Den's glass art show on Broadway, I was fortunate to have a conversation with the artist about the inspiration, craftsmanship and Kanazawa where she is from. Very charming person, too!

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