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Nara Sake and the Bodaimoto Technique
Produced since the Muromachi period, “Nara Sake” reached its height during the Sengoku period of Japanese history.
With the creation of a technique called “Bodaimoto” at Bodaisan Shoryakuji Temple, it became possible to make a safe and reliable yeast starter, and brewing techniques used at Nara’s temples provided the foundations of sake production today. It is for this reason that it is said that the Bodaimoto technique is the root of refined sake brewing and Shoryakuji Temple is the birthplace of refined Japanese sake.
The “Nara sake” of ancient times reached its height during the Sengoku Period (A.D1400). With the birth of the Bodaimoto technique originating at Bodaisan-Shoryaku-ji Temple in Nara, it became possible for the first time to produce a yeast mash
safely and consistently. The brewing techniques used at temples in Nara provide the foundations of sake production today. That is whey people say the Bodaimoto is the oldest method of sake and Shoryaku-ji is the birth place of sake in Japan. It is recorded that Oda Nobunaga, one of the most powerful warlords who united feudal Japan, commended this technique. In the following years brewing techniques diversified across Japan; new techniques such as Yamahaimoto and Sokujomoto developed while slowly the traditional technique of bodaimoto was all but forgotten. However, in 1999 breweries in Nara helped revive the technique at Shoryaku-ji Temple, the birthplace of sake. As one of the sake in our Takacho range we hope that Takacho Bodaimoto will help communicate to people the tradition and technique of “Nara sake”.
It is also recorded that Oda Nobunaga, a powerful warlord who united Japan, commended this technique. Over time though, with the diversification of brewing techniques across Japan and the development of new methods for making the yeast starter, such as Yamahai-moto and Sokujo-moto, the Bodaimoto technique gradually came to be forgotten. However, in 1999 with the combined effort of several breweries in Nara Prefecture, the technique was successfully revived at Shoryakuji Temple, the birthplace of refined Japanese sake.
Today, we hope to convey to people the traditions and techniques of “Nara Sake” through Takacho Bodaimoto, in our Takacho series.
Takacho Junmai Bodaimoto
Rice Polishing Ratio: 70%
The following is a summary of the content of the book “Goshu no Nikki”, the original for which is considered to have been compiled at the height of Bodaimoto brewing (1429 to 1441).
Bodaisen. Wash 1to (18 litres) of white rice thoroughly until the water remains clear. Steam 1sho (1.8 litres) of this rice. If it is summer, the steamed rice must be cooled. Next, put the steamed rice in a bamboo draining basket to cool it. Once cooled, submerge it into the remaining white rice being soaked. Wrap the mouth of the pot and leave it overnight. (This elutes the required nutrients facilitating the growth of bacteria.) On the third day, place another barrel to the side, scoop out the clearer upper portion (supernate) of the lactic acidic liquid in the pot, and then take out the steamed rice that was submerged in the soaking rice, and set it aside. Next, take 9sho (16 litres) of the soaked rice and steam it thoroughly. Steamed rice needs to be especially well cooled in the summer. Mix 1sho of the 5sho of koji rice with the steamed rice set aside earlier, and spread half of this mixture all over the base of a barrel. Furthermore, mix 4 sho of the koji rice with the steamed rice (9sho). At this point, measure about 1to of the water that was scooped earlier and pour it in from above. Spread out the remaining half of the mixture of steamed rice (1sho) and koji rice (1sho) on top of the mash. With this, the preparation stage is complete so wrap the mouth of the pot. Leave for seven days and the sake will be ready. If the sake is not required immediately, it can be left for about ten days.
This document is referred to as part of research efforts to provide a scientific explanation for the Bodaimoto technique as well as in reviving the technique, which was used in the mid-Muromachi period at Shoryakuji temple.
The Bodaimoto production technique has been transferred to Shoryakuji Temple (licensed to make shubo) and this unique technique is being passed down to future generations.