Home > Japanese Culture > You can know when you get the first sake by seeing green colored sugi-dama held.

You can know when you get the first sake by seeing green colored sugi-dama held.

I have one class volunteer interpreters in Chita peninsula hold now. When tourists from other countries visit Chita peninsula, volunteer interpreters give some help to them while taking a tour. I’d like to join in the activities, however, I don’t know if I’ll be able to manage to do them, so joining in the class, I think I would check if my skills can handle them.

The first topic in the class was sake in Japan, which is one of beverages including alcohol. In English, you might pronounce “sake” like “seik“, however, sake in Japanese is literally pronounced like this; “sake“.

I went to one museum called sake no bunkakan in order to acquire knowledge on sake.

I think using yeast is one of human’s great innovations. sake, tohu, wine, beer, cheese, many things are related to yeast. I, however sadly, don’t know how important for food yeast is and how yeast is related to food. Basically, I defenitely don’t know how to brew sake.

It’s going to be a long story to write “how to brew sake” on this article, so at first, I’ll write instruments and topics I found in sake no bunkakan.

This is a photo of the building of sake no bunkakan.


You can see something circlar in the middle of the building. This ball is called sugi-dama or saka-bayashi. sugi-dama is made with Japanese cedar. In Nara prefecture, there is one shrine called Oomiwa jinjya, which is one of oldest shrine and enshrines oomono-nushi, who is simbolized as God of sake. In Oomiwa jinjya, people treat Japanese ceder as the tree God dwells, so every entrance of tsukurizakaya(facilities brewing sake, this saka-dama is hung.


In autumn, the time craftsmen finished brewing sake in that year, saka-dama is replaced with the newer, green-colored one. Like the more the time goes by, the deeper the taste of sake becomes, the color of saka-dama changes its color from green to brown.

Japanese ceder also has preservative capacity, so it is used in many instruments of brewing sake.

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  1. J
    September 19, 2009 at 1:05 pm

    Good work! All you have to do is write more. Overall it’s clear and well written. But to be honest with you, I’m not really sure what you’re talking about in the first paragraph. (Especially the very first sentence.) Like, what do you exactly have, and who hold what now? Also, in ‘manage to do them’, I’m not sure what this ‘them’ represents. Are you taking the class or going to take the class?
    BTW, you call me ‘J’ here, OK?

    • honeypotter
      September 19, 2009 at 3:09 pm

      Hello, J! Thank you soooooooooo much for your comment!
      As a matter of fact, I was so tired because of my business today that I got some sleep right after I had dinner, but I was surprised with your comment and my drowsiness is now gone somewhere!
      >I’m not really sure what you’re talking about in the first paragraph.
      The class is held by one volunteer interpreters association in Chita peninsua in order to understand culture in Chita peninsula and explain to turists from other countries. Now I’m taking the class and want to know if I’ll be able to join in that association and its activities. So, “them” in second line, I was supposed to express it as “the activities”.
      But as you said, it’s quite unreadable, I read this article again and felt it. :-… After I finished writing my own articles, I always try to read them as just one of readers and try to find my faults. The more time goes by, the more my articles are corrected…like brewed sake…hehehe 😀
      …I’m really glad you left your comment in this blog. I really am. I believe I’ll be better than now…because of you. Your exsistence as a reader will give something great to me.

  2. October 26, 2009 at 10:54 am

    Just to clarify how we americans say ‘sake’. We pronounce it ‘saaki’ or ‘sakii’ (expressed as english, it sounds like ‘socky’ as in rhymes with rocky, pocky, cocky, hockey). I know, us dumb americans, right… 😉

  3. October 26, 2009 at 10:55 am

    Interesting post by the by. I’d love to see more like this.

    • honeypotter
      October 26, 2009 at 5:47 pm

      Strictly speaking, both of ‘saaki’ and ‘sakii’ are not correct prononciations in Japanese. Do you know the movie “Last Samurai”? In that movie, Tom Cruise acted the man visited Japan and tried to learn Japanese. You can hear the prononciation ‘sake’ in Japanese in it.

      Oh, you got interested in this article? Yeah, I’m going to write it later. Please don’t miss it. 😉

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