Father’s Day is rapidly approaching. If you’ve been struggling to find the perfect gift for someone special, why not take some inspiration from Japan and celebrate Father’s Day Japan style!
Discover a hobby that will last you a lifetime. Japanese tea ceremony can seem intimidating, but we’ll show you how to get started in just a few easy steps.
Japan Centre is not only located in London, oh no! In 2013 we will be visiting many locations around Europe bringing all the best Japan Centre goodies to you! Keep an eye on our Events Calendar to see where we will be popping up next, you never know if could be in your neighbourhood!
Sample local produce from this fertile southern island, never before sold in the UK! Get your hands on exclusive regional specialities and experience the culinary diversity and beauty of Kyushu right here in London. Featuring free tastings every day from 3 – 6pm the event features limited edition Kyushu products for 2 weeks only, make sure you don’t miss out!
Ahh I remember my student days fondly. Lots of parties, lots of drinking and lots of sleeping. Unfortunately though, not a lot of money. This is why Japan Centre is here to help and support you! We know how daunting it can be thinking about how much you have left to spend on proper food instead of that 8p pack of instant noodles or yet another week’s worth of pasta… so we’ve introduced a student discount!
New Year will be soon upon us again and that means it’s time for some traditional Japanese celebrations! New Year, called Shōgatsu in Japanese is one of the most important festivals of the year with plenty of tasty food and drink, as well as a fantastic variety of interesting customs.
If you want to experience some of the fun that happens during the Japanese New Year celebrations, why not join us at Japan Centre and get involved. There’s free samples to be had to make it even more tempting! :)
Called mochitsuki in Japanese, mochi pounding is the custom of pounding large amounts of mochi rice into soft, stretchy and sticky mochi! Using a giant hammer and a huge mortar, one person hammers down on the mochi while another person adds water and flips the mochi over in between pounding to stop it from sticking. It is a technique that takes a lot of coordination, but is certainly quite a show to watch.
Want to see some authentic mochi pounding at Japan Centre? Head over to Japan Centre Acton Store and enjoy the spectacle. We will even have some free mochi to give away to anyone who wants to try this authentically made Japanese sweet.
Sake ‘Cask Opening’ Ceremony
Kagami Biraki literally means ‘opening the mirror’ in Japanese and refers to an ancient ritual of opening either a type of mochi, or more recently breaking open a ceremonial cask of sake. This is a common practice which although traditionally done just after New Year, is now popularly done at weddings, opening ceremonies for new businesses and other various special occasions in Japan.
We will be breaking open our very own cask of Gekkeikan sake at both Japan Centre Regent Street Store and Japan Centre Acton Store. It might be a little early for some, but you can also grab a free taste of the sake after the ceremony! :)
Ah, sake… delicate, but complex. Sharp, but balanced. Delicious, but deadly! Japan Centre has the best selection of sake in Europe, brush up on your knowledge then choose a sake to get you started on your merry way!
What is Sake?
Sake is a Japanese alcoholic drink made from rice and similar to wine it comes in a huge variety of different grades depending on the quality of rice used, the % the rice is polished (milled), the additional ingredients that are added during the brewing process and even the way it is stored. All these factors can make the difference between a cheap and cheerful sake, or a premium, exclusive sake that can cost hundreds of pounds a bottle. Having been developed alongside Japanese cuisine so that it harmonises with the delicate flavours of Japan’s fish-rich diet, sake is a perfect accompaniement to any Japanese meal and should be drunk in unison to complete you Japanese dining experience.
Keep reading for a quick tour of the different types of sake available.
First, a Little Background of Sake & The Brewing Process
Sake is made from rice that is fermented with koji, a type of mould, then mixed with pure water to create our favourite tipple! Being a rice wine, the variety and preparation of the rice is paramount to creating a high quality, delicious tasting sake.
The first important step is to to remove the outer layer of rice bran and oils to get to the starchy centre of the rice grain. The rice is milled or polished to a different amount depending on the sake being brewed. This can range from polishing away 30% for a standard sake to 50% for a premium sake.
After the rice has completed fermenting and the liquids are separated, some varieties of sake receive a type of distilled alcohol to help extract the delicate flavour and aromas. They are then filtered to remove any excess solids and pasteurised before being bottled and consumed.
So, What Are The Different Varieties of Sake?
Futsu-shu is the standard basic type of sake. It is often considered a table sake, something easy to drink on any occasion. It contains a large amount of distilled alcohol added after fermentation and is not considered one of the premium types of sake. That being said, there are many types of futsu-shu sake that are quite delicious!
Honjozo is the beginning of the more premium classifications of sake. It is made to a high standard with rice polished to below 70% of its original size and also includes a little added distilled alcohol.
Junmai is similar to Honjozo in the type of ingredients and preparation with the exception of added distilled alcohol which is absent in Junmai. This gives junmai a pure, clean taste.
Tokubetsu means ‘special’ in Japanese and is applied to both Honjozo and Junmai types of sake. Tokubetsu sake uses higher quality rice which is often polished to less than 60% of its original size. Distilled alcohol is then added for Tokubetsu Honjozo or left out for Tokubetsu Junmai.
Ginjo is the next grade up from Tokubetsu and uses excellent quality ingredients for a full flavoured taste and aroma. As before, Ginjo sake can have distilled alcohol added, or can be a Junmai Ginjo if none is added.
Daiginjo is the highest quality sake you can find and uses rice grains that are polished to less than 50% for a light, complex and fragrant taste. Again distilled alcohol is added to normal Daiginjo and the purer Junmai Daiginjo contains none.
Other Sake Varieties
Sake can come in other variants apart from the ones detailed above such as Namazake, an unpasteurised sake, Nigori Sake, which is left unfiltered to give it a cloudy appearance and Taru Sake, a variety that is aged in wooden casks made from sugi, a Japanese cedar which gives it an earthy, natural flavour and aroma.
Japan Centre has one of the largest selections of authentic Japanese sake in Europe so head on over to our website and browse all the types of sake we have available. A bottle of sake makes a great gift for any friends or family who claim they already have everything they want! After all, everyone loves a delicious drink! :)
Come & Try Some Top Quality Sake
Sake comes in a huge amount of different varieties depending on the rice used, the rice polishing ratio and a whole host of other small changes. Right at the top of the sake quality table is Junmai Daiginjo. This is the best quality sake that uses the purest rice and contains no added distilled alcohol like some other types of sake.
If you want to see why Junami Daiginjo tastes so much better than other types of sake, come to Japan Centre on Saturday 3rd December and try it for yourself.
What: Free sake tasting with two varieties from Asahi Shuzo in Yamaguchi prefecture. Dassai Junmai Daiginjo Niwarisanbu & Dassai Junmai Daiginjo Fifty.
When: Saturday December 3rd 2011 at 1pm until 9pm.
Where: Japan Centre Regent Street.
If you have always wanted to experience the smooth and complex tastes of traditional Japanese Sake, then why not join us and do so for absolutely nothing at our FREE sake tasting event.
We have a rather special sake available for tasting this time called Umenoyado Yuzu Sake. This sake is from Nara and is infused with the Japanese yuzu fruit, a citrus fruit similar to orange and lemon which gives it refreshing, sharp and slightly sweet taste.
Ok, ok, so you just want the details about the event!
WHEN: Friday 17th December
WHERE: Japan Centre Regent Street Shop
WHAT TIME: 3PM-7PM
The same way that British people enjoy different varieties of tea, such as Earl Grey or Darjeeling, Japanese tea also has a huge range of different types, all with subtle differences in taste and aroma.
Although all these different varieties give us a great opportunity to sample all the exotic flavours, it can also make it difficult to choose which type of tea is the best choice for you.
Check out our guide to find out more about all the delicious types of Japanese green tea: