Mar 29, 2011

Drinking even in this tragic Japan

The series of earthquakes and tsunami waves that hit an extensive area along the Pacific coast of the northern Japan on March 11 threw the area into an awfully wretched situation, and this situation still continues. In addition, the incident at a nuclear power plant in Fukushima Prefecture has not settled yet, and the situation seems to even be getting worse according to news reports.

In many sake breweries in the Tohoku area, their brewing facilities were damaged or totally lost and many people were killed in this disaster. I wonder how much sake the brewers in the Tohoku area will be able to produce in the next brewery year. I am very concerned abut it.

Thinking of people in trials and tribulations in the afflicted area, it is difficult to drink sake in a carefree mood. However, if sake drinkers refrain from drinking sake, it is not good for the sake brewing industry and food service industry. Furthermore, such a voluntary restraint mood will adversely affect the economy of Japan, hindering the recovery in the afflicted area.

The voluntary restraint mood is spreading among organizers of festivals, shoes, and other amusing events, and many planned events are cancelled or postponed. Many sake tasting events and other sake events are also being cancelled or postponed. Some people support or tolerate such movement while others insist such events should not be cancelled without careful consideration so that the economic activities will not sag further.

Recently, one of my acquaintances held a drinking party, titled "Drinking party in the hard time" at an izakaya, and I attended it. Friends and I had a good time, happily drinking and making a fuss at that time, but later I felt kind of guilty for having too much fun when thinking about this fuss in retrospect.

When people drink sake, liquor shops and sake brewers make money and some money in turn goes to the Japan's government as liquor tax or consumption tax. Thus, we can somewhat contribute to the finance of the country, and eventually money will be spent for the restoration of the afflicted area. However, this is merely a logical way of thinking and humans sometimes do not act according to logic since they sometimes feel guilty even for their logical activities. Anyway, probably, I won't decrease the amount of sake I will drink, but maybe I cannot but drink more quietly and secretly for some period of time from now.

What stance do you think you should take on drinking sake when many compatriots are devastated and suffering?

(This video was taken February 26.)

Mar 28, 2011

Tokyo Sake Site update

I run the website called Tokyo Sake Site.

There are around 10 sake breweries in Tokyo. Local sake and breweries making such sake have been closely connected with their local communities, and I consider sake breweries have been contributing to forming the local culture and custom. Thinking of such a thing, I as a citizen of Tokyo want to do some favor for local sake breweries in Tokyo. So, I have established Tokyo Sake Site, which expresses my intention to cheer up them and back up their sake.

However, I cannot achieve so great a job by myself, but only add some stuff to the contents of the site occasionally.

The following are the recent update:

Gadget for enjoying sake -- kandouko sake warmer

酒蔵見学解説英語 (kura study tour explanation in English, Japanese site only)

Especially, the web page of 酒蔵見学解説英語 (kura study tour explanation in English) presents English expressions that are likely to occur when someone gives English-speakers explanation on sake brewery facilities, sake making process, sake making tools and machines, and other stuff during a study tour at a specific sake brewery. This page contains Japanese sentences with corresponding English sentences. Originally, I intended to prepare this for myself in anticipation of a case where I need to take some English-speaking friends or acquaintances to some sake brewery, but I thought this might be useful for those who need to take their English-speaking friends to sake breweries or for sake brewers who need to accept English-speaking visitors.

Therefore, I decided put this on a page at my website. Anyone can access this information. Please feel free to use it. If necessary, I will revise or expand the contents upon readers' request or opinions. So, your feedback is always welcome.

By the way, my friend and I visited a sake brewery on March 19. This was the first-time leisurely outing since that earthquake and tsunami disaster on March 11. We got there around at noon and had some beer (this sake brewery also brews local beer) and kamekuchi nama sake fresh from the brewery. Toast in hope of the early recovery of the disaster-stricken areas and Japan!

Mar 12, 2011

Three-point pulse check method

In the yesterday's evening, the cancellation of Niigata Sake no Jin 2011 (Niigata Sake Festival 2011) and postponement of the Niigata Sake Expert Test were announced on the Internet. Also, the organizer of the test called me this morning to tell the postponement of the test. Needless to say, the cancellation and postponement were as the results of the series of enormous earthquakes that hit Japan in the afternoon yesterday.

It is regrettable that the Niigata Sake Expert Test was postponed since I had been preparing for the test by training my tongue and nose for long. However, I feel such decision is inevitable in consideration of the circumstances. In addition, the service of the Joetsu Shinkansen is still suspended as of the noon today, and I'm not sure I can travel to Niigata by tomorrow for the test even if the test will be held.

I would like to express deep sympathy for those in the quake and tsunami hit areas. I watched the TV to see how the tsunami destroyed coastal towns. Cars, boats, houses, and other things are like garbage pushed toward the inland by enormous power of the sea. The tsunami easily caught up a running car, engulfed it without the slightest hesitation, and absorbed it as a part of its wide-spread body. As I saw these horrible spectacles, I was thinking that similar disasters had occurred, were occurring, or would soon occur at several other places along the pacific coast of Japan, and I could not help but really recognize how small human power was against the rage of great nature.

It is the wisest that you stay away from such rage of nature. If you can predict such grave danger and avoid it, you need not to lose your life for nothing, but how can you predict such danger?

Fortunately, there is a practical method called the three-point pulse check method (三脈の法: sammyaku no hou), which has been handed down from ancient times. It is said that the human subconscious can detect grave danger or peril that will occur within the period of a few hours to a day and that will have something to do with one's life. With this three-point pulse check method, you can take out subconscious information as conscious information.

This method varies a little bit depending on whether you are male of female. If you are male, while taking your pulse on your left wrist, take your pulse on both carotid arteries with your left thumb and index finger. If you are female, while taking your pulse on your right wrist, take your pulse on both carotid arteries. If the beats felt at the three points of both carotids and the wrist are synchronized, you are safe and no imminent peril is expected. However, if these beats are not in sync, it means that a grave peril is expected within about 24 hours.

If beats that are out of sync are observed, you should change your activity planned in the immediate future (for example, use a car instead of train, cancel your flight, etc.). Then observe your pulse again to check whether the beats become normal. Continue to change your planned activity until the beats become in sync.

Actually, I was taught this method by the trainer of waterfall training when I was practicing such training. Waterfall training is a dangerous activity because of a heavy load on your heart and risk of hypothermia due to cold water. You may stumble on a slippery rock or riverbed. What if a stone or driftwood flows down from the top of the waterfall and hits your head directly? Having been told so, I was quite scared. So, I would very seriously practice the three-point pulse check method before standing under the waterfall.

I am not sure how effective this method is. However, I can say one thing. Since this method costs not a penny, you will lose nothing even if this method does not work. However, if this method works, you will save your life!

Mar 11, 2011

Preparing for sake tasting exam

As I wrote in the previous post, Niigata Sake no Jin will be held for two days starting tomorrow.

On Sunday, I will be going to take the exam for "Kin no Tatsujin" (Gold Expert), in which the examinees will taste 10 sakes and how many they can identify will be checked. So, in the final preparation for the exam, I trained my tongue and nose today.

Actually, I took the same exam last year, and failed. Since there were as many as 10 sakes to taste, I was confused in the exam. In the training I had today, I tasted 5 sakes, which is far less than the real exam, but I managed to tell all the sakes. So, I feel relieved a bit.

For the Sunday's exam, I am going to use the following tactics based on the self-examination about the exam last year:

1. Stay calm during the exam.
2. First, roughly determine the type of each sake, and then find difference between similar sakes.
3. Do not try very hard to find characteristics of sake, but focus only on distinct characteristics.

Mar 4, 2011

Niigata Sake Festival just around the corner

Niigata Sake no Jin 2011 (Niigata Sake Festival 2011) will be held on the next weekend (March 12 and 13). I had been attending this event every year, and also have been taking exams for Niigata Sake Expert since 2008.

Last year, I took the exam for "Kin no Tatsujin" (Gold Expert). In this exam, the examinees tasted 10 sakes and how many they can identify was checked. Actually, it was very tough for me, and I could identify two out of 10. Of course, this miserable result meant that I failed in the exam.

Also this year, I am going to take the same exam, so I have been preparing for the exam through the training of sake tasting since quite before. However, it does not seem the training yields significant results. I am now pessimistic about my development in sake tasting. How can one who could only identify two sakes out of 10 develop his tasting ability so that he can identify 7 or 8 out of 10? Anyway, I train myself hard and will do my best.

Well, all my friends in Niigata, I will visit Niigata soon. Let's have a fun time together. Those in the Niigata sake brewing industry, please let me drink nice sake also this year!

The video below is nothing to do with the above description. Lately, a couple of wild birds visit the tree by my room and they are quite tame. Especially, the female bird takes food even directly from my hand. I named this female bird Hiyori, and I am petting her.