asazuke

Life in Japan, food, music, whatever…

Cold Sake 7 June, 2011

Filed under: countryside,food & drink,incidents — johnraff @ 1:11 pm
Tags: , , , ,

This is probably one for the “kids, don’t try this at home” department.

While beer and I have had a long, and generally happy, relationship and I’ve made other friends like wine, awamori and shochu more recently, the Japanese national drink Sake and I don’t get on, at least not cold. Sake can be quite a nice drink to sip warmed up on a cold winter evening, preferably with some traditional Japanese food – some seafood maybe, which is also good when the seawater’s cold. However, take my word for it, Cold Sake is something to be very cautious with. The alcohol in the warmed-up variety seems to enter your bloodstream quickly so you soon feel the effects and can regulate your intake accordingly. When it’s cold though, it’s easy for a beer-drinker like me to just keep glugging it down till it’s too late to ward off the extreme drunkenness to follow. I’ve only drunk cold sake in any quantity three times or so, and each occasion has been one much to regret…

This particular incident happened a year ago at about this time but for whatever reason my notes stayed somewhere in the computer and never got written up. Maybe it was just too embarrassing…

“taruzake” is sake that’s been kept in a cedar barrel so the aroma of the wood permeates it. The effect is something like Greek “retsina” wine, though not as fiercely resinous, – quite nice in fact. We were given a “sho” (1.8 litres) of it at T’s nephew’s wedding the other week, and arranged to take it round to Yamada san’s so he could help us drink it. Yamada san lives just down the road from our country place, where he deals in timber. Business hasn’t been too good in recent years and he does a bit of forestry work for the local co-operative to boost his income a bit. In fact young people aren’t interested in that kind of work, so with little competition the money’s not that bad, he says. We suggested he try selling his timber via the internet, as there ought to be a market with people who still want to build traditional Japanese houses, but he says he’d rather be outside listening to the wind than typing at a keyboard. Fair enough.

We found him in the little room attached to his timber yard where he usually passes weekend evenings with friends and a beer or two. A wood stove keeps the place nice and warm all year round with timber offcuts and the like. Yes, even in the hot Japanese Summer! He says the cast iron would rust if it wasn’t kept hot all the time, but he certainly had that room a bit warmer than I would have. Ah well, the conversation flowed and the sake was quite nice in fact. After a while I felt like cooling off a bit and went to sit in an old office chair just outside the door. I must have fallen asleep at that point, because most of what followed I had to learn from T afterwards…

Apparently I fell off the chair and caught my elbow on something, so got quite a nasty gash on it. Yamada san poured some “shochu” on so the alcohol would disinfect the wound. It must have worked, because in a week or so it was well on the way to healing up. I had no idea of any of this at the time though – all I remember is suddenly being very DRUNK, much drunker than I wanted to be, and not happy at all.

T got me home somehow, and the next day I learned where the blood on my pillow and sheets had come from. Ah well it could have been worse – the hangover wasn’t as bad as I deserved, and my elbow got no nasty infection – even so, the evening could have been much more enjoyable than it turned out to be.

The other times? Don’t even ask. My other encounters with Cold Sake were worse than this…

 

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5 Responses to “Cold Sake”

  1. […] Monday was a work day – late with the chillies, but I managed to plant out the first batch: “Malay” chillies from seeds I bought in Malaysia – big red ones with a medium hotness, good for salads and stir-fries. That afternoon Yamada san dropped in on his way back from a bit of forestry work – the first time we’d seen him for a while. He lives in the next valley, was a friend of the previous occupants of our house and one of the first people we got to know round these parts. His cousin plays bass guitar and we had a band going for a couple of years, till the drummer moved away. Anyway, remembering the “taruzake” we’d been given at T’s nephews wedding we agreed to take it over to Yamada san’s place the next week, as there was too much for the two of us to drink alone and it wouldn’t keep that long. (read on…) […]

  2. […] That evening we drank that “taruzake” at Yamada san’s place, but that’s another story… […]

  3. Sector11 Says:

    Only once have I ever had sake, at a Japanese Restaurant in Vancouver BC Canada. Loved it, but it was with a meal and it was warm. They kept the carafe full as fast as we drank it. I was with a friend. Didnt get drunk, but it did leave a nice warm glow. 😀

  4. […] old friend of Nakai san, the previous owner of our house, and his place was where we enjoyed that cold sake… He brought round Hasegawa san who keeps cows for “Hida beef”. (I wonder if […]

  5. […] he called up to suggest his place instead. It turned out to be a much better evening than the Cold Sake Debacle of last […]


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