Archive for October, 2009

The first week

It was a long first week at the brewery. I mentioned in my last post that the my first day involved a lot of cleaning and preparation, well, it continued for the whole week. We are waking up the brewery after a long summer nap, and it involves cleaning EVERYTHING: rooms, floors, walls, equipment, tools, more tools, linens, tanks….and more. Although it is certainly not glorious work, it serves a purpose and I have already learned a lot. Everyday I am learning new words (Japanese of course) for tools, equipment, even rooms within the kura (brewery), and having new experiences, for example, getting inside of a 1000 litre rice cooker, or cleaning the inside of a 6000 L tank.
Here is a picture of where I spent a lot of time this week, in front of these three 200 L buckets filled with boiling hot water.

The cleaning station

The cleaning station

Starting tomorrow, the brewing season officially opens as we are planning to wash our first batch of rice. It also means getting to the brewery at 6.30am, as opposed to 8am. Wish my body luck.


The journey begins….

After a seemingly long summer, and fall, my first day of work at the sake brewery finally arrived. What was my first task, you may wonder? Answer: sweeping up fallen leaves. The day began at 8am, and as a group, owner included, we swept up the leaves from the concrete around the office and in front of the brewery. That completed, it was time for the first morning meeting of the year, during which I was introduced by the owner to the other staff. The team consists of the owner, his wife, his eldest daughter, his son (the head brewer), three other brewery workers: Ogawa-san, Iida-san, and Suda-san, and now me. Everyone is fairly young, which is a stark contrast to most sake breweries in Japan.
After the morning meeting it was off to the kura (brewery) to start the day’s (and this week’s) objective: clean and organize everything. There was one slight hitch- I didn’t have rubber boots, so it was off to the local supply store, Workman, to get some.
The rest of the day went smoothly and involved a lot of cleaning. We cleaned the muro (the place where they make koji), the motoshitsu (the place where they make the yeast starter), lots of large cloths, kojibuta (wooden boxes for koji), and many other things.
I am sorry I don’t have a photo, but will try take one tomorrow.
Thanks for reading.


It’s official! After a seemingly long wait, my starting day at the brewery has been set and is fast approaching. October 20th will be my first day at Tomono shuzo, and will hopefully mark the start of a new, long career. Time will tell, of course, but I am excited for the opportunity and adventure. I have no illusions that this is going to be easy, I will be juggling brewing with editing scientific manuscripts (to help compensate for my paltry brewing salary!), which will make for a tough 6 months. Regardless, I am excited to begin, and am also excited that I will be able to start making posts here about my experience (which is why I started this blog, albeit a little prematurely!). So, for those who still check in from time to time, I expect to start posting regular updates about this season’s brewing adventures- soon!

please stay tuned.