As you may know, there are 47 prefectures in Japan, however, you may not know all the prefecture has breweries which is producing sake even the southern island Okinawa.
Japan is surrounded by ocean and there are lots of high-mountain in middle of island.
The climate of north and south is totally different. Moreover, people work for the president of each area and life went under each local regulation until 18s. Therefore, the localism was very strong and made each local culture including food style different.
Since the taste of sake is strongly effected by the climate and ingredients, there are unique features by each prefecture.
SAKEMARU visited Niigata which has the largest number of breweries and its sake consumption volume is the highest in Japan, which means people living in Niigata love sake the most in Japan.
We encountered the expression of love against sake in the EchigoYuzawa and Niigata station which is the main entrance of Niigata. Ponshukan（ポン酒館） was a heaven for the sake freaks.
I would like to say “Niigata people is totally crazy for sake” with all my love. When you visit Niigata, you have to take an adventure in this sake forest.
It locates at Echigo Yuzawa station and Niigata Station, 2-3 hours away from Tokyo by Shinkansen. Here offers 93 kinds of sake from all the breweries in Niigata, on top of that, there are 22 kinds of special sake from all around the Japan which is recommend by Ponshukan’s sake sommelier.
When you enter Ponshukan you just simply use a 500yen coin to exchange 5 token and 1 small sake cup. With this simple step, a huge trouble will come! You have to pick the first taste among these 115 kinds of sake!! That’s a really tough job for a person who loves every kind of sake. After I made up my mind, I just need to put my cup under the dispenser, insert token as its requirement into the machine and push the button, a full cup of sake will be there for me in a few seconds. That is easy enough, isn’t it?
Beside sake, there are also so many kinds of miso and salt for you to choose, even fresh cucumber with just 100yen.
Echigo Tsurukame Junmaiginjo Yamahai｜Echigo Tsurukame Shuzo（越後鶴亀酒造）
This is only available in Ponshukan. Yamahai style takes longer time than normal brewing, so that currently a few breweries can take this style. Its creamy taste evoke me the cheddar cheese. The balance of crispiness and sweetness is well-organized, which gives you the long afterglow.
Yukitsuru Junmai｜Tahara Shuzo（田原酒造）
Less aroma, smooth attack, rich sweetness influenced by rice. The most impressive part was the matured smoky flavor. All the sake we can try here is only chilled but this sake is 100% good for warm sake. I am sure the richness sleeping inside will be brought out.
Montmeru Joie de Poulet｜Myokoh Shuzo（妙高酒造）
According to the website, this is one of the series of new conceptual sake toward the market outside of Japan. Joie de Poulet is produced to just focus on pairing with chicken. Honestly saying, I’m not sure if this sake becomes a good partner of chicken, since there so many kinds of cooking method for chicken, however the taste itself was unique and new. Especially the spiciness of aroma distinguishes this sake.
To share this excitement with our previous members, we brought some souvenirs make your sake life more fun from Ponshukan! We will send it with the sake of April. Since the number of souvenir is limited, some of our lucky members will receive that. Please look forward the arrival of sake and souvenir. When the lucky people receive the souvenir, please take a photo and post it on facebook or instagram. See you next time!
*Niigata local spice made by chill, good partner of sake.
2) Ponshukan’s Sake cup