Archive for September, 2009

A Visit to the Sake Rice Paddies

We just finished the “Silver Week” holiday here in Japan (little sister to the “Golden Week” holiday in May), and on our way to Niigata (famous for sake, rice, and fish), we stopped by the rice paddies where the brewery’s rice is growing.  These are also the same paddies where we helped plant the rice in the spring.  Anyway, the rice is getting close to harvest and the paddies look much different than at the time of planting.

Shelf rice paddies getting close to harvest

Shelf rice paddies getting close to harvest

This sake rice is called “Hitogokochi” and is the rice variety predominantly used by Tomono shuzo.  I will be coming back to these paddies in mid-October to help with the harvest.  I am sure it will be back-breaking, but rewarding, work.

After visiting the paddies, it was off to Obuse, Nagano to visit Masuichi brewery and the Hokusai art museum (Hokusai is most famous for his wood block print of a large wave which I am sure you have seen, see below for a  mental refresher).

Hokusai's Great Wave wood block print

Hokusai's Great Wave wood block print

It was then off to Niigata for some camping and fishing.  After camping out in a very nice park near the ocean, a light rain on our fly-less tent motivated us out of bed at 4.40am, a good fishing hour if there ever was.  We were rewarded with a decent catch of “aji” and 4 “shimadai”.  We made tempura with the aji (head and all) and ate 2 of the shimadai as sashimi, and baked the other 2.  The left over parts we used for a soup base.  Of course, we ate the sashimi and tempura along with a delicious Daiginjo sake from Shizuoka prefecture called Kunpai (君盃), which was a very nice gift from Nakamura-san (thank you Etsuko!)

Aji (horse mackerel)

Aji (horse mackerel)

Shimadai, a type of bream

Shimadai, a type of bream