It is now summer vacation for school kids in Japan, and as my son is in his first year of elementary school we’ve been thrown into the world of trying to keep a six-year-old occupied. One of our strategies was to take a trip to Oita prefecture, home of onsens, aquariums, and a bit of sake.
Oita, being on Kyushu, is better known as a shochu land than a sake one, but there are still some very good kura down there. One of the more well known in my neck of the woods is Chiebijin, from Nakano Shuzo. I got to try it with a very nice meal of Chicken Tempura (Toriten), which Oitans apparently eat more of than any other prefecture.
This particular bottle was a junmai ginjo made from Yamadanishiki, with a mill rate of 55%. It was a namachozo, meaning it was pasteurized only once, in the bottle.
The sake was quite flavorful, with more nojun notes and umami than most junmai ginjos. It really did well balancing the heavier side of Oita cooking, and I quite liked it.
I didn’t actually drink much other sake while down there, but I did pick up a beautiful bottle of Tekishu (another name for tobingakoi) from Nishi no Seki, Oita’s most famous brand, and a sampler of Yufu Bijin (a whole lot of Bijin down there…), which is made to order for a shop in Yufuin but is quite good.
I tried the Yufubijin tokubestu junmai, and it was lovely. It was quite a rich sake, with strong umami notes and a mild astringency that was quite more-ish. It is a meal sake for sure, but not one that is too heavy or rich for leisurely sipping with friends, either.
I’ve still got some more Oita sake to try, so be sure to check in soon!