Friday, March 04, 2005


Last weekend, along our serendipitous wanderings (serendipity in fact being the main point of such excursions) in search - as herein chronicled earlier - of the renowned pond that as near as we could tell is nowhere near its location, we stopped at a local sake brewery up the road a ways in “Irish village,” as it is called - for its puzzling rural Japanese village love of Ireland and the presence of a delightful “Gulliver’s Village” up there in the low hills.

One day I will get to the bottom of why it is called Irish Village - I have to find the pond first - so many things on that loooong list - but to my present point: as we meandered down the narrow village road I saw a sugidama (sugi: cedar; dama: ball) hung outside the door of a local sake brewery I hadn't noticed before.

When sake is first set to brew, in accordance with the traditional manner a ball made of freshly cut green cedar branches is hung outside the door to signal to the community that the new batch of sake is now under way (traditionally, very important local news). As time passes and the cedar in the ball dries out and turns more and more brown, the further along the sake is toward completion, until at last the fully brown ball tells all the village and all passing along the road that the sake made and sold here is ready and available. Slow advertising.

Imagine that: months of fragrantly tantalizing tenterhook advertising, all without using even one picovolt of electricity. So natural. So elegant. So knowing - and of so many things - a tacit knowing in which all share. Without neon. Who now knows how soon cedar branches turn brown, and that that duration matches the time it takes for sake to become sake? Some elderly folks still know these things, in the small, emptying country towns…

This sugidama is still pretty green so I have to wait a while yet, but the flavor of new country sake will be worth it. Slo-o-o-o-o-w-w-w...

Excellent sake site

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