[Event Report] Nara Sake Gastronomy Dinner Event @ Hotel Nikko Nara(held on 11/5)

Enjoy making tea whisks and marriage dinner with Narazake in Nara, where matcha and the tea ceremony have roots.

“Japanese cuisine is Japan’s proud food culture. Its roots are in Nara.” The “Japanese Food Pilgrimage – NARA” project plans gastronomy tourism where you can learn about the roots of Japanese food and experience the culture. Six diverse programs have started in 2023 as well.
The 2nd event was held on November 5th in the hagoromo room of Hotel Nikko Nara with 22 guests.
This time, we have incorporated the experience of making a chasen, which is related to matcha and the tea ceremony, which has its roots in Nara, and incorporated a collaboration between Nara’s food culture and innovative Nara sake into the dishes.
As with the first event held on October 22nd, materials and menus will be available in Japanese and English. We also took into account the needs of foreign participants, such as having two interpreter guides simultaneously translate the words of the host and lecturer.
*This event was held as the 2nd demonstration project of the Japan Tourism Agency’s regional integrated gastronomy tourism promotion project. From Nara, the birthplace of Japanese sake and home to various Japanese food culture roots, we will disseminate the new NARA brand both domestically and internationally, and create new products and develop sales channels targeting the ever-increasing number of foreign visitors to Japan. The purpose is that.

Part 1. Experience threading a tea whisk under the guidance of Mr. Tango Tanimura, a chasen master

The origin of Yamato tea is that Kobo Daishi brought back tea seeds from the Tang Dynasty and planted them in Uda, Nara, where he taught the tea production method.Later, the “Chanoyu” created by Juko Murata from Nara is still passed down today.The roots of the tea ceremony are also in Nara, and the tea whisk, a tea ceremony utensil, was also created in the Ikoma and Takayama areas of Nara during the Nara period.
Tango Tanimura
Mr. Tango Tanimura, the 20th generation head of Wahokudo, a chasen maker, passed on the secret tradition of making chasen from one child to another in Takayama, and the process of making chasen was introduced along with a video. During the “Ajikezuri(fine scraping)” process to finish the tips, Mr. Tanimura says, “Ajikezuri alone determines the quality of matcha taste. This is a particularly important step in which you concentrate all your attention on the sensations in your fingertips.”
Next, under Mr. Tanimura’s guidance, each student threaded a chasen using their favorite colored thread.This is a process in which silk thread is alternately wrapped around each thin bamboo ear. Everyone was working hard with their eyes focused and serious expressions on their faces (just like staring at a chasen).It was worth it, and everyone finished hanging up their clothes in time, and we moved on to the Nara Sake Gastronomy Dinner venue for the second part.

Part 2. Narazake marriage dinner

Prior to the toast, Mr. Tomofumi Ikeda, General Manager of the Tokyo Public Relations Office, Public Relations Department, Central Japan Railway Company, and Ms. Michiko Ryō, a writer, took the stage to give greetings.
Mr. Ikeda said, “We are discovering and disseminating the charm of ‘New Nara,’ as is known for the ‘IZAIZA-NARA’ campaign starring actor Ryohei Suzuki.

Ms. Ryō said, “I came to Nara from Tokyo. Nara is so interesting and full of delicious food. And it’s amazing how many sake breweries are doing well♪” She told us that she had developed a strong interest in making chasen during the previous workshop.
Tomofumi Ikeda
Michiko Ryō

Brewery talk−President Chobei Yamamoto, the 13th generation owner of Yucho Sake Brewery Co., Ltd.−
Nara is the birthplace of Japanese sake "Actually..."

In order to make gourmet sake even more delicious, Chobei Yamamoto, the 13th generation owner and president of Yucho Sake Brewery in Gose City, gave a talk on the theme of “Nara Sake and Bodaisen,Japan’s oldest sake mash.”
Chobei Yamamoto
First, he introduced himself and said that the name “Chobei” has been passed down from generation to generation for over 300 years. “I want to pass down Japanese sake to the next generation through local production and local consumption, with a commitment to unfiltered, unadded water, Bodhimoto brewing, and coexistence with local agriculture,” he says of his aspirations.
He also says that sake began to be made in Nara during the Muromachi period, when a temple in financial difficulties created “sake” that was pasteurized and lasted for a long time, instead of the everyday sake “Doburoku”. I told him that it all started when I put it on distribution sales. He also added that “Narazuke”, a specialty of Nara, was created as an effective use of the byproduct sake lees.
In addition, regarding the three types of Kaze no Mori ALPHA 2 / Kaze no Mori Tsuyuhakaze 807 / Kaze no Mori Akitsuho 657 that we prepared today, we will explain the differences in taste depending on the type of rice and polishing level, such as local rice Akitsuho and Tsuyuhakaze. Please enjoy,” he concluded.

Dishes using ingredients and seasonings from Nara, the roots of Japanese cuisine

The toast drink is “Kaze no Mori ALPHA1”. They were served with an amuse plate, and Yuko Tanigaki, director of the Nara Prefectural Tourism Bureau, gave a toast.
There was an explanation of the dishes by Hotel Nikko Nara’s head chef Tsujii. “Croquettes with foie gras made from ancient rice (black rice)”, “Ancient cheese “So” and raw ham/anpo persimmon, “Grilled beef with Nara vegetables and Hishio sauce”, “Kofuku-ji temple soup”, “matcha terrine”,”Hojicha pudding from Nara Prefecture” ,He said that the roots of good food are sprinkled throughout.

The alcohol corner offers 10 types of rare sake, both cold and hot.
There was also service around the table.

While savoring the dishes that were brought out one by one, Mr. Toju Tayama and Mr. Kazuyuki Mizukami of the Nara Prefecture Sake Brewers Association passed around drinking alcohol, and the people sitting at the same table had a lively conversation.
In addition to “Kaze no Mori” and “Takacho Bodaimoto”, the alcohol corner also features 10 types of rare sake selected by the two people mentioned above. It was also served hot, and guests were able to choose their favorite alcoholic beverage and enjoy pairing it with their food.
We received compliments such as “ALPHA1 is fruity and easy to drink.It’s like champagne.ALPHA5, served hot, has a deep flavor.”
“Making the chasen leaves a deep impression on me. My memories of this delicious food and alcohol are even clearer because of that experience,” said a German man with an interpreter.
Another person said, “This project is too luxurious♪” as they squinted their eyes at the dessert, which was recommended by Chobei Yamamoto and sprinkled with Takacho Bodaimoto.
Many of the participants generally emphasized the excitement of making a chasen, with compliments such as, “I’ll definitely tell everyone about the experience of making a chasen! It helped me with all my five senses.” Also, the fact that the overseas guests were good at using chopsticks may be proof that Japanese food is spreading around the world.

The show ended with a promise to convey Nara's old and new charms.

At the end of the show, we asked five guests, including some from overseas, for their thoughts. It seems that everyone enjoyed the event and discovered new things about Nara’s culture, traditions, and food.

The event concluded with a greeting from Noriko Kawai, chairperson of the project executive committee.
Ms. Kawai said that her encounter with and learning about alcohol came from “Abecedes Matrix – Map of the Future of Alcohol (Sake Bun Library)”.
And “Peace comes from Nara, where God and Buddhism have coexisted. Also, Nara is where the roots of Japanese traditional culture, such as sake and tea ceremonies, are still alive today. Let’s spread the charm of Nara, the place of beginnings, both domestically and internationally.” That was her last word.

Noriko Kawai

Sale of commemorative edition chasen and tea utensils
Chasen with kaou and designed Inome chawan by Mr. Tanimura

To commemorate this tour, Tango Tanimura’s “kaou (Signed)” chasen, ceramic artist Yutaka Ono’s INOME (heart-shaped) tea bowl, and a set of chasen boxes by Urasenke master Munehiro Goto will be on display and for sale. Many people were dazzled by the harshness.

The finished product of the chasen impressed me for the third time!
Enjoy it in your daily life, such as making a matcha latte.

During the second part, Mr. Tanimura silently worked on finishing the chasen threaded in the first part, and after the opening, he handed it to each person as a souvenir at the exit. The white threads that had been applied at the beginning matched perfectly with the colored threads, and everyone left the venue happy with the finished product.
Of course, we also took home recipes for “How to Make Matcha” and “How to Make Matcha Latte (HOT/ICE).” We hope that Japan’s and Nara’s world-class traditional crafts will add color to your daily life when you return home or return home.