Mssrs. Tomoo Hashimoto & Harushu Nakashima
On a beautiful Tuesday February 27th I entered Chuumasa/Yoshiya Brewery at 15:00.
As I had arranged the interview long in advance, the 16th generation in the person of owner Tomoo Hashimoto was expecting me and kindly waiting for me in the front shop.
I had done my homework beforehand as this time I conducted the report by myself. I went as far as visiting the nearby Sengen Shrine where I took a pic of Chuumasa Sake Barrel (top shelf on pic below).
With the minimum of fuss, Mr. Hashimoto guided me to the “kura”. On the way, I ascertained that they were still using the same well which had been dug by Chuubei Hashimoto in 1751. It is fed by water from the nearby Shizuhata Mountains and the Abe River.
The Toji/Master Brewer, Mr. Harushu Nakashima, of the Nanbu School, from Iwate Prefecture was waiting for us.
A smiling quiet diminutive man, he actually seemed to enjoy explaining the arcane secrets of his trade to that strange foreigner and quickly warmed up to the conversation. He was just checking the ginjo when we had entered his lair and I was offered a primeur tasting.
Mr. Nakashimasa has brewed Chuumasa Sake since 1985. I had previously had the experience to look at a toji’s hands. I am small, but Mr. Nakashima is even smaller than me by a head. Nevertheless, his hands were longer than mine by a good 3 cm and the skin looked and felt like a pink piece of wrinkled leather! I was also surprised by his mastery of the Japanese language. This gentleman is not a layman. He is an craftsman whose politeness would put quite a few people to shame…
Mr. Nakashima uses only Yamada Nishiki and Goyakumangoku rice exclusively from Hyogo Prefecture and Ginginga Rice from Iwate Prefecture for Dai Ginjo. Otherwise he uses Shizuoka Koubo as yeast.
20% of the total sake brewed consists of junmai and yamahai sake.
As from 2007, no futsuushyu (normal sake) is brewed. Thank goodness!
Before I took my leave, he honoured me by inviting me to witness a very select tasting test, conducted by toji only, on March 6th, and advised me with a smile to make sure I came with a clean skin and no aftershave or perfume! I stood corrected. The gentleman has a fine nose. No need to say that I bowed and apologized!
Before I left, I went back to the shop with Mr. Hashimoto to select a bottle for Melinda to taste.
Another surprise was waiting for me in the person of the owner’s daughter who greeted me in French! I immediately recognized her. Why in the world didn’t I know for what she was? Shizuoka City is such a small world!
Unfortunately she is the Hashimoto’s only sibling. Who is going to take over the Brewery?
Before I left, Mr. Hashimoto, who is a bit golf-mad, offered me another bottle labelled “Hole In One” in commemoration of a very real feat!
Shizuoka Shi, Aoi Ku, Zaimoku, 6
No business on Sundays