The Honma Bunko Niigata Food Library opened on 15 June 2021 in Honmachi-dori 1-bancho (near Hakusan Park), Niigata City. It is a private library with access to more than 1,000 books in the collection of Dr Nobuo Honma (91), a leading researcher on Niigata's food culture, and we are in charge of its operation.
Dr Honma's collection of books is lined up on three levels of movable bookcases in a converted wardrobe.
Food" also includes "sake", and we have created a section for books on sake by adding books from Dr Honma's collection to our own.
Introduces books on Niigata sake, which can be browsed at the Honma Bunko Niigata Food Library.
Niigata Sake Mastery Test Official Textbook.
The first book to be introduced is the Niigata Sake Monoshiri Book (Niigata Nippo Jigyosha: now Niigata Nippo Media Net), produced by the Niigata Sake Master Certificate Association (within the Niigata Sake Brewers Association).
The one in the library is the third printing of the first edition, published in 2012. A revised second printing is currently available.
If you read through this text, you are guaranteed to pass the Niigata Sake Copper Master!
It is an excellent book for learning the basics of Japanese sake, as well as Niigata sake.
There is also an English-language edition of The Niigata SakeBook, published by The Japan Times in 2009.
Learn about the history of the Echigo Toji and the origins of sake brewing.
The Echigo Toji has supported Niigata sake. In the 1950s, there were 1,000 Echigo Toji and over 5,000 brewers (sake men), the largest number in the country. Today, year-round employment is the norm, and the style of group migrant workers has almost disappeared. That is why the records of the Echigo toji and sake brewers who have supported Niigata's sake brewing are so valuable.
Echigo Toji and Sake Brewery Life (published by Niigata Nippo Jigyosha), written in 1999 by Toyojiro Nakamura, a sake brewing historian who worked as a high school teacher for many years, is a book that conveys the toji's passion for sake brewing and rethinks the origins of traditional sake making through a detailed and realistic introduction to the life of the Echigo toji.
The 35th anniversary booklet of the Niigata Prefecture Federation of Sake Brewers' Employees' Associations, the union organisation of Echigo Toji, which was created in 1967, 'Echigo Toji Tatakuru Tomorrow' is a compilation of previous bulletins.
The booklet shows how they have worked hard to improve their techniques, holding a series of workshops and organising competitions for each group of Echigo toji in the prefecture, and how the results have encouraged them to pursue even better sake. The booklet's unique appeal is that it also mentions the family members who have supported the toji.
The bible for Niigata's sake.
Teiji Shima was the director of the Niigata Brewing Experiment Station and the first headmaster of the Niigata Sake School, and was later involved in the development of Kubota at Asahi Sake Brewery. Shima is affectionately known as the 'sake master' not only within the brewing industry in Niigata Prefecture, but also by sake retailers and others involved in the sake industry outside the prefecture, and his book Talking about Sake (2007, Asahi Shuzo) was published by the Asahi Shuzo publishing company.
This is a book that describes in his own words the life of the man who has led Niigata sake with his broad vision and foresight. As well as being a bible-like book containing all the background to Niigata sake, it also conveys Shima-san's personality and passion for Niigata sake from every word he says.
Communicating the appeal of Niigata sake through cuisine.
Ai Nagumo, called 'Okkasama' by the brewers of Hakkai Brewery (Minamiuonuma City), has entertained guests with homemade dishes using ingredients from the four seasons in Uonuma. She married the previous president, Kazuo Nagumo, and married into a small sake brewery, where she has nurtured Hakkaisan with her husband, toji and friends for almost 70 years.
One book about his life is Okkasama no Jinsei Ryori (2017, published by Denali Publishing). Hiroshi Morita, editor-in-chief of the quarterly magazine 'To Uonuma' published by Hakkai Brewery, compiled the book in the form of an interview.
At the end of the book, titled '60 Okkasama's homemade dishes', the author introduces seasonal recipes and describes his appreciation of nature and his thoughts on ingredients in each season.
Osaka-born, Niigata City-based cookery researcher Yuka Nakajima introduced her love of Niigata's sake and the dishes to enjoy it more deliciously in her recipe and essay, 'Kikkake, Opponshu' (2007, STUDIO CELLO).
In an essay, Ms Nakajima describes the episodes of her encounter with sake in Niigata and how she fell 'in love' with it, while introducing 25 bottles of Niigata sake and the dishes that go with them. Mr Nakajima is currently promoting the appeal of Niigata sake as an Honorary Master of Niigata Sake.
From the brewery to the drinkers
A book that introduces the story of the brewery is People who make 'Kame no Ou' - Sake is the Wind (1991, published by Otsuki Shoten). The book follows the process from rice cultivation to sake brewing at the Kusumi Sake Brewery in Nagaoka City, which was the model for the manga Natsuko no Sake.
Photo by Shinzo Hanabusa, text by Kazuhiro Suto and Aiko Ei. For about a year and a half, they followed the rice farmers who cultivate the Kame-no-o sake rice and the Kusumi Sake Brewery and compiled this report.
Although it is a photo essay, looking at each photograph, you are drawn into the power of the thoughtful pictures, which could easily be described as a photo book.
Kenji Kubota, navigator of the TABIBAR in Niigata Station, introduces travellers to Kusumi Sake Brewery's sake with this book in hand, and the book is in tatters. ...... He excitedly said, "The brewery's unwavering attitude over the past 30 years is amazing," adding, "Look at this picture. President Kusumi (Kenwa Kusumi) in his university days. He is singing karaoke". I hope you enjoy this treasured picture.
Some unique books have been produced by breweries.
Seishu Oyomori Ezu Kura no Ichinen Tansaku (2011), published by the Taiyo Shuzo brewery in Murakami City, is an illustrated guide to the bimonthly hanpukai products that Taiyo Shuzo has offered since 1999, with each issue being newly drawn and illustrated. The author is Tairoku Hirata, who has served as president of Taiyo Shuzo, vice-president of the prefectural sake brewers' association and head of the Niigata Sake School.
With illustrations and handwritten text that only Hirata-san could draw, the book introduces sake culture, sake brewing and Niigata's sake with humour and enjoyment. Recommended for sake beginners.
Liquor stores are great evangelists.
After I moved to Niigata, I first visited the Hayafuku Sake Foods Store in Sekiya, Chuo-ku, Niigata City, to cover Niigata sake. Despite meeting them for the first time, Iwao Hayafuku (current chairman) and his wife Sumiko welcomed me with a smile and told me about Niigata sake.
He told us about the brewery that brews the five brands of sake the shop handles, saying that there were no difficult stories at all and that 'sake shows the personality of the manager'.
The Town's Sake Brewery: Niigata's Famous Sake and Iwao Hayafuku (1997, Koukai Times) summarises Iwao Iwafuku's philosophy on Niigata sake through the life of Iwao Hayafuku, a behind-the-scenes force behind the spread of Niigata sake throughout Japan, and comments from various industry figures who were involved in the project. Edited and written by Masami Tanizawa.
The warm smile of his wife Sumiko, who supported Iwao for many years and passed away suddenly last year, is impressive.
Preserved edition confirmed! A fascinating magazine feature
The library shelves are also lined with magazines featuring Niigata breweries in feature articles. Three magazines that should be preserved as valuable documents are presented here.
The Winter 2007 issue (No. 13) of the quarterly Fudebako (Hakuhodo) features Yoshinogawa. Fude Bako is a magazine published by Hakuhodo, a brush manufacturer in Hiroshima Prefecture, which "considers life through tools and craftsmanship".
The 86-page 'Special Feature: Yoshinogawa: Japan's Four Seasons Reflected in National Sake' follows the work and life of each of the brewers and brewery owners in each of the four seasons, and presents them with striking photographs.
Visitors can experience the traditional beauty of a brewery that has inherited local sake while remaining close to the climate of Nagaoka.
Spring 2016, issue 58 of COYOTE (published by Switch Publishing). In the memorial issue for Mizumaru Anzai, an illustrator, cartoonist and essayist, the feature article "Encounter: Anzai Mizumaru's favourite sake, 'Shimehari Tsuru'" introduces the Miyao Shuzo brewery in Murakami City, describing how they first met more than 30 years ago and how Anzai drew the illustrations for the plum wine.
In issue 3 (Spring 2016) of Tsuru to Hana (published by Tsuru to Hana), izakaya explorer Kazuhiko Ota visited his favourite Tsuru no Tomo brewery, Higi Shuzo (Nishi Ward, Niigata City), with editorial staff, and experienced sake culture in the Furumachi flower district.
The writer's travelogue, titled 'Crane friends and old town flowers', describes the situation.
Tracing the evolution of the brewery guide
The library has five guides to Niigata breweries.
The five books, published in different years, provide an insight into the evolution of local breweries in the prefecture.
The oldest is Niigata Jishu no Tabi (Niigata Sake Journey), published by Niigata Nippo Jigyosha in 1992. The article introduces 72 breweries, but the list of major brand labels at the end of the book introduces 107 breweries.
Subsequently, Niigata Jizake Kingdom (1998), New Niigata Jizake Kingdom (2003) and Selected Niigata Jizake Journeys (2010), published by Niigata Nippo Jigyosha, are available on bookshelves.
The catchphrase "Girls' Night Out" in Niigata Jizake no Tabi (Niigata Local Sake Journey) indicates that the sake has become more accessible to women. Incidentally, there were 95 sake breweries at this time.
Niigata Sake Travels, published this year by Niigata Nippo, is the first volume of a series of articles in the evening edition of Otona Plus. A second volume is scheduled to be published after the entire collection has been published.
The French unravel the 'booze'.
The author of Sake, Unique to Japan, a book translation of which was published in May this year, is Nicolas Beaumelle, a French doctor of geography and professor at Nagoya University.
The translated book debuted some 10 years after the original publication.
He sees sake (Japanese liquor) as something unique and completely different from wine culture, and based on the perspectives of geography and cultural anthropology, and from knowledge gained through a wide range of interviews, he discusses sake making and drinking, as well as the future of sake.
The reason this book is included as a Niigata sake book is that the Japanese edition was produced by the Niigata University Centre for Sake Studies, the translation was supervised by Associate Professor Hitoshi Terao, a member of the Centre's cooperating faculty, and a number of women from Niigata University and sake breweries were involved in the joint translation. I hope women will read this book," says Terao. It is also worth noting that the translated book from Niigata incorporates the perspectives of women, who hold the key to the future of sake.
Finally, we would also like to introduce, with your permission, a book that we have published.
Deep, rich, beautiful: Niigata Hatsuri R, a preserved tourism magazine that tells the story of Niigata, features Niigata's sake in its spring issue every year; published to coincide with Sake Day on 1 October, cushu Techo: Sake Breweries & Town Tour of Niigata, a guide to all the breweries in the prefecture and a sake journey.
There is also a book of recipes to go with sake by Yuka Nakajima, mentioned above.
We hope that the library's books will help you get to know Niigata's sake and explore different ways to enjoy it in the coming season, when new sake is eagerly awaited and heated sake is missed.