I would like to introduce the sake festival that takes place in Shoryakuji Temple in Nara City. Why does this sake festival take place in this temple?
Shoryakuji Temple, famous for its garden,
In old times, in some temples, the monks used to make sake inside its precinct to dedicate to deities.
Shoryakuji Temple used to be so big that there were over 80 monks’ residences inside around the 14th century, so this temple could produce a large quantity of sake. In the process of making sake, they used their skills to invent methods of brewing which are still in use today. Their filtered technique succeeded in turning cloudy sake into clear sake. That’s why Nara is said to be the birthplace of Japanese refined sake. The sake they produced was said to be the most delicious sake in Japan back then.
Nowadays, they don’t make sake on a major scale. But at the annual festival in January, they still cultivate shubo, the yeast starter, with some of Nara’s local brewers in the precinct.
Steaming the rice.
Eight of Nara’s local breweries get together in Shoryakuji Temple in the morning and steam 500kg of rice produced in Nara. After steaming the rice and cooling it down to an appropriate temperature, they mix the steamed rice, Koji mold and water in the tank.
Cooling down the rice.
At the festival, the monks pray for the success of making shubo well, and the festival ends. The temple offers visitors sake tasting, mochi rice cake and sake lees soup during the festival.
Pray by the monks and sake brewers.
For 10 days after the festival, the monks need to constantly and carefully control the temperature for smooth fermentation.
The brewers come back to the temple again to take shubo back to their breweries, and make their own Bodaimoto sake. They will be on sale in March or April.
I’ve heard that this year the steamed rice turned out very well. I am looking forward to tasting each Bodaimoto Sake.
Since Bodaimoto sake is produced through a traditional method, the quantity is limited. So, they are only sold in Nara. You can purchase them at Shoryakuji Temple.
By the way, Bodaimoto is one kind of shubo and refers to the sake which was produced through methods invented at Shoryakuji Temple.
Bodaimoto Sake at Shoryakuji Temple.
If you are interested in sake, Nara and Shoryakuji Temple is a must-see place to visit and learn. Of course, for sake tasting, too!
I made a travel plan specializing in Nara sake. We will bring you to the sake store so you can taste each Bodaimoto sake.
Please have a look!
The top photo image is in Shoryakuji Temple with its monk.