In the Japanese language, “sake” is the general term referring to alcohol whilst the beverage obtained through the process of rice fermentation, and which English refers to as “sake”, is known as “nihonshu”. By putting together the Chinese characters for Japan (“nihon”) and alcohol (which is pronounced “shu”), the Japanese language brands it as the “national liquor”. Indeed, much more than for any wine or beer, there is no better match to the traditional Japanese cuisine than an authentic sake.
Produced almost everywhere in the northern parts of Japan, as low temperatures are essential to the fermentation process, sake is a joyful companion, warming the hearts and enlivening the conversations of any gathering of guests or friends. Naturally, sake is essentially the result of a magical encounter between various elements and an unchanging succession of natural phenomena and human interactions. Clear waters from the melting ice caps in the spring nourish the soil from which the rice ears rise in summer. Harvested in autumn, the polished grains and malts slowly turn water into elixir in winter through a slow maturation process. At every stage, this alchemy is carefully watched after by the sake brewer, a man firmly committed to an authentic tradition and the truth of his land. Much worshipped by the local people, Mount Hakusan is the most spectacular embodiment of this truth as it provides huge amounts of the clear water that is needed at every step of the sake brewing.
The brewery industry has kept thriving in Kaga. Indeed, clear water (“mizu”), fine rice (“kome”) and the brewer’s savoir faire (“waza”), the three basic elements needed that make a good sake, have been around for quite a while. Today, the area is famous for producing a huge amount of local and artisanal sake (“jizake”) with a great variety of taste and characters. Whether you like it dry (“karakuchi”) or sweet (“amakuchi”), served warm (“kan”) or chilled (“hiya”), sparkling or still, you are welcome to taste this wonderfully diverse product directly in some of Kaga’s most reputed breweries.