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  • This is how sake is made in Japan

  • Whoa

  • It is snowing. It is so cold out here

  • So today I am in Nagaoka and the great

  • people at Asahi Shuzo have let me go

  • into their factory and show you how sake is made

  • But before I start like always

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  • it's so cold it is so cold

  • all right let me take you on this factory tour

  • so here I am in the middle of a

  • snowstorm bringing you another made in

  • Japan video where I uncover how things

  • are truly crafted in Japan

  • I really don't know how I get myself into these places

  • But I do know that I love taking

  • you along for the ride

  • Today we're at Asahi Shuzo

  • and if you're any kind of sake lover

  • you already know about their

  • world famous signature Japanese sake brand

  • Kubota

  • Dating back to 1830

  • at Nagaoka Japan

  • where they were originally founded as Kubotaya

  • now with a total of

  • 170 skillful workers crafting the

  • highest quality Japanese sake each day

  • who've all mastered the secret of

  • Japanese sake brewing techniques

  • passed down from generation to generation

  • wow this place is so massive

  • There's just so much stuff going on

  • let's see what's going on over there

  • The entire sake factory

  • sits on about 57,000 square meters of Niigata land

  • consisting of five separate buildings all working together

  • to make it all happen

  • so this is where it all starts

  • the rice gets brought into the factory

  • [Music]

  • after all rice is the main ingredient for making sake

  • They use 3600 tons of rice a year from fall to spring

  • with deliveries 2-3 times a week

  • In fact the Niigata area produces the highest rice

  • crop yield in all of japan

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  • it's commonly said by Japanese sake

  • producers that quality of sake can never

  • exceed the quality of its ingredients

  • which is probably why the factory uses

  • only rice specifically grown and

  • cultivated for their sake with its own

  • signature fragrance and taste

  • [Music]

  • so I've made it to the entrance

  • it's time to change

  • let's do this

  • looking good let's go

  • now that I'm inside let's see if we can

  • go around and find out what everyone is doing

  • So this is the very first step of the

  • sake brewing process called Seimai

  • The raw brown rice must be polished before it

  • can be used to create sake as the outer

  • surface is made up of mostly fat and protein

  • which creates an odd sake flavor

  • and gets in the way of the intended

  • clear and sharp sake taste

  • apparently some of their sake requires the rice to

  • be so finely polished that less than 50%

  • of each grain is used

  • compared to the rice people normally eat which is 90%

  • The entire process is so

  • delicate it takes the machine two to

  • three days to ensure that the grain

  • doesn't crack during the polishing

  • once polished the rice gets inspected

  • by hand to ensure that it passes the

  • factory strict shape and quality standards

  • Just this attention to detail

  • alone is why it's worth including this

  • in my Made In Japan series

  • but believe me we haven't even begun to scratch the

  • surface on how this all goes down

  • next the polish rice is moved to the

  • Sakagura, main brewing building

  • where all the magic happens

  • the bags of rice arrive in this room

  • where they're opened and the rice is

  • pumped directly to the fourth floor to

  • be washed and soaked

  • and this is where all the rice gets washed

  • even after the polishing the

  • brand still remains on the rice

  • which if used as is

  • would add a strange flavor to the sake

  • so it's critical for it to be washed off

  • [Music]

  • oh look there's some stairs right here

  • let's go see what's up here

  • After it's washed it then goes into a soaking process

  • damn it's starting to sound like

  • the rice is at a day spa

  • let me continue as this part is pretty important

  • timing is everything

  • factors such as the type of rice its condition

  • that year the polish ratio weather

  • humidity all of it must be taken into

  • account when it comes to how long the

  • rice is washed and soaked just to give

  • you an idea on how precise the timing is here

  • rice used to make the popular

  • kabota manju is watch for 17 seconds and

  • soak for 10 minutes

  • [Music]

  • alright some of you watching with kids

  • fair warning

  • the following footage is

  • about to get steamy

  • counting down

  • three two and one

  • okay after draining all

  • night the rice is slowly conveyored

  • through this massive steamer

  • unlike rice eaten at home which is cooked in water

  • this rice is spread onto a conveyor and

  • steamed continuously in extremely high

  • heat for 40 minutes during the peak

  • season the factory steams up to 3 tons of rice every day

  • but once steamed it's

  • quickly cooled down and prepared for the

  • next step

  • Excuse me, What are you doing ?

  • So, What the key to steaming rice ?

  • How long did it take you to master this process ?

  • uh okay out of curiosity do you think

  • all the steam helps moisturize your skin ?

  • at this point the inside core of the rice

  • is soft enough that it mashed

  • together it creates a mochi rice cake consistency

  • [Music]

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  • and we're off to the races as the rice

  • gets air pumped through a 40 meter pipe

  • to the next location while midway

  • through the process koji seeds are added

  • which is a specific Japanese mold used

  • for culinary fermentation

  • Finally the rice ends up on a flat circular bed in

  • the kojimuto a special room set to

  • exactly 30 degrees celsius 86 degrees fahrenheit

  • to grow the koji mold

  • This is amazing

  • The steamed rice is about to get covered now

  • Naturally the rice is covered up to increase the koji mold propagation

  • but a skillful brewer must still open it up and inspect

  • the condition of the rice by touching it regularly

  • all the while making adjustments over the next two days

  • Now that the koji mold has had time to grow

  • The rice koji is moved to another

  • large vat apparently the simple task of

  • mixing the rice koji generates too much

  • heat so the rice is moved to a

  • specialized vat with a built-in fan at

  • the bottom to cool down the rice koji

  • when the rice koji is set back on the

  • kojimura it's important to level the

  • pile as a consistent thickness also

  • helps minimize the surface helping to

  • keep the moisture and heat inside

  • after another two nights the rice koji

  • maturing process is finally complete and

  • by now natural enzymes have formed to

  • build a sake's rich flavor and depth

  • This is why koji is such an essential

  • ingredient in the process any skilled

  • sake brewer will tell you that high

  • quality sage can't be made without high

  • quality koji

  • [Music]

  • Oh Mother of sake what do we have here ?

  • yes we finally made it to the shubo area

  • where the brewers get brewing

  • here water and yeast are added to the matured rice

  • koji to create a sake mash which kicks

  • off the alcohol production you know the

  • very thing that puts a smile on all our faces

  • Well at least my face

  • [Music]

  • oh and he's the Touji a.k.a Master Brewer

  • responsible for the entire sake

  • production in the warehouse

  • In fact the factory has two master brewers each one

  • responsible for their own warehouse and team

  • [Music]

  • back in the day sake brewing was very

  • much a seasonal side job mainly

  • for farmers and fishermen during their off-season

  • But there were also some sake brewer owners

  • They often contract hired their Touji and workers

  • who learn how to craft sake in specialized schools

  • These days larger sake brewers like Asahi Shuzo

  • have their own full-time Touji

  • But many smaller sake makers still follow

  • the traditional system

  • [Music]

  • Hi, Can I bother you for a sec ?

  • What are you doing ?

  • Does it like alcohol at this point ?

  • So, What the most important part ?

  • And what do you like most about all of this ?

  • You sound out of breath

  • Then they add more water steam rice and koji

  • three times over four days

  • The work itself is quite strenuous

  • But must be performed manually by skilled brewers

  • as machines wouldn't be able to notice

  • the slight changes in the condition of

  • the mash and therefore couldn't make the

  • necessary adjustments

  • after this the sake mash is left to ferment for about a month

  • To fully develop the sake's ultimate taste and aroma

  • during this time brewers continue to regularly

  • sample and analyze each tank and make

  • adjustments as needed

  • This is where the generations of brewing come into play

  • as the factory draws on its decades of

  • experience as well as their own historical

  • data to precisely craft a consistent

  • sake each and every time

  • only an experienced and skilled worker could

  • recognize the subtle changes in the

  • condition of the rice and then make the

  • required adjustments ultimately creating

  • the perfect finish

  • Man !! Just walking around this factory I get so lost

  • oh whoa what's that ?

  • The white crumbly sheets being scraped

  • off is called sake kasu aka sake lease

  • but basically it's a rice and yeast that

  • remains after the sake mash has been

  • pressed to remove the sake

  • although not used for sake itself it's nutritious and

  • used for other purposes such as eating

  • cooking pickling even some beauty products

  • So before we continue on I want to give

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