Top ＞ 购物(附近的特产)
Fukui ume, or Fukui plums, are one of the local specialties of Wakasa region in Fukui Prefecture and many of them have been adopted in recent years for onigiri, or rice balls, and lunch boxes sold by major convenient stores. They have gained a good reputation which comes not only from their good taste but from various reasons mentioned below.
For instance, in the process of producing umeboshi, or Japanese pickled plum, out of Fukui plums, no additive is used at all and all they use are plums, shiso, or Japanese basil, and salt. Moreover, time-consuming sun dry is also made carefully by hand labor. As Fukui plums are abundant in minerals such as calcium, potassium, etc. compared with those grown in other prefectures, they have strongly supported good health of the people nowadays who are concerned about maintaining beauty and good health.
Fukui plums date back to approximately 1830, when they originally started to be grown from the plum trees grown in only two houses in Nishida district, which is now the center of the production of Fukui plums. As a result of selective breeding that has been repeatedly made since then, Fukui plums have been divided into two different kinds. One is “Benisashi” used for umeboshi and the other is “Kensaki” for umeshu, or plum wine. Beautiful plum blossoms bloom at the end of February which bear fruits and harvest season starts in early summer.
Ordinary rakkyo, or shallot, is planted in August or September and harvested in next May or June. However, rakkyo grown in sandy soil of Sanrihama in Mikuni-cho, Sakai City in Fukui Prefecture requires as long as three years from planting to harvest, which is the longest period for growing rakkyo in Japan. It has many fixed customers who keep buying it for long years.
Growers of rakkyo say, “Since all the works involved in growing rakkyo from planting to harvest are done by hand labor, it’s difficult to increase the amount of production. One rakkyo bulb increases up to six to nine in one year. In case of growing for three years, it increases up to 40 to 60 rakkyo bulbs. Year by year, the size gets smaller and the third-year rakkyo is small in size with hardened bulb and fine fibers in it, which give us crispy texture.
Out of three-year-old small-sized rakkyo harvested in Sanrihama, bigger ones are singled out and pickled and matured for one year at low temperature. Besides three years until harvest, another one year is required for pickling rakkyo. Therefore, it takes four years altogether for the whole process of producing rakkyo to be completed. Rakkyo in Fukui Prefecture has mild and extremely crispy texture with refreshing aftertaste.
The following two kinds of rakkyo are popular; one is fruity flavored “Suna no shizuku” which are pickled using rice vinegar made from specially grown koshihikari rice and the other is “Tokumi jinbama” in which only smaller rakkyo bulbs are selected out of three-year-old ones. Now this Tokumi jinbama comes in renewed package.
Fukui City has thrived by manufacturing silk fabrics. Especially “Habutae” with outstanding glossy texture has been cherished as luxury silk fabrics. Habutae Mochi is a rice cake with exactly the same elegance and gracefulness as Habutae silk fabrics. Habutae mochi is characterized by elegant sweet flavor and delicate and smooth texture.
Fukui Prefecture is located along the Japan Sea and “heshiko”, a traditional dish made from a long time ago mainly in fishing villages along the coast of the Japan Sea, has now started to draw attention nationwide as one of the ultimate slow food. Heshiko refers to a fish pickled in miso or sake lees and it started to be made a long time ago as a preserved food in order to prevent decay of fish and preserve them for a long time. Heshiko has a long history and it is said to have been already produced by mid-Edo Period. Sardine, blowfish, squid and so on have been used for the ingredients of heshiko. However, the fish with the greatest amount of production as heshiko has been mackerel because it has had the greatest amount of catch since those days. So, heshiko using mackerel has been the most popular among local people of Fukui Prefecture.
Mackerel is generally pickled from fall to winter and heshiko begins to be made around the time when new rice malt is produced. Carefully pickled mackerel changes into delicious heshiko after one year of pickling period, going through heat of summer season. Heshiko has been an ultimate slow food passed down for generations in Echizen Province and Miketsukuni. (Miketsukuni refers to the province that supplied food, mainly marine products, to the Imperial family and the Imperial court in Kyoto in ancient times.) Now it is made in many households and also by a lot of companies. It would be fun to compare not only different production processes, but different kinds of taste as well.
Fukui Prefecture has altogether 38 Japanese sake brewers, each of whom produces Japanese sake using their own special recipes. Consequently, Fukui Prefecture has many kinds of Japanese sake produced through complicated production process using simple raw materials of rice and pure water.
Brewers in Fukui Prefecture have been striving to make their own sake which they believe to be ideal, excluding uniformed brewing method. This is why good quality sake is produced in Fukui Prefecture. Brewing good sake depends on good ingredients and touji, or sake producers. The job of touji has traditionally been a contracting business and touji regularly visit the brewers under contract and stay at their breweries for about half a year until they finish brewing new sake. In order to make sake, rice must be polished and steamed first. Then comes production of malted rice called koji, yeast mash called shubo and unrefined sake called moromi. Then comes the process of mixing the main ingredients together called dan-jikomi. It takes about sixty days to brew new sake after all these complicated brewing procedures. Every year when the season of brewing sake comes, touji, sake producers, gather kuroudo, workers in charge of brewing sake, and visit the brewers together, who entrust sake brewing to them. For half a year from every October, touji and kuroudo live under the same roof at the brewery under contract to brew new sake together.
Jizake, which can be literally translated as “local sake”, means sake brewed and distributed in a limited local area. It also refers to sake brewed using specific local rice and water. The taste of jizake is determined by the specific climate of each local area where it is brewed. Fukui Prefecture is blessed not only with favorable natural conditions for brewing sake such as climate, temperature, humidity, and so on, but also with good ingredients such as excellent pure water and delicious rice. In this way, Fukui Prefecture is rich in favorable environment suitable for brewing delicious jizake.
Fukui Prefecture, which abounds in delicious food both from the sea and the mountains, is also a famous production area of jizake which has received good reputation both in and out of the prefecture. It is unusual even across the country that there are so many brewers in one prefecture. The scale of each brewer is not very large, but one common feature of these brewers in Fukui Prefecture is that many of them have produced sake under the system of “kuramoto touji” in which kuramoto, the brewers, themselves work as touji without entrusting production of sake to touji, sake brewing contractors. This system has led to craftsmanship and positive attitude of the brewers abounding in ingenuity to brew each and every bottle of sake with the utmost care, resulting in a lot of high quality sake in Fukui Prefecture.
One way to relish sake is to choose your favorite sake brand out of a lot of jizake. Sake is classified into two types according to different brewing methods and ingredients; one is sake with a specific class name such as ginjo sake and junmai sake (pure rice sake) with no added alcohol included, and also honjozo (authentically-brewed) sake and the other is Japanese sake (Nihonshu) such as namashu (pure raw sake), namachozoushu (raw stored sake) and taruzake (sake contained in the cask). Most of jizake have their own labels on them, so why don’t you start with taking a close look at different labels and see what type of jizake they are?
Brewing method, method of quality control, quality of sake, price, etc. vary from brewer to brewer. Besides amakuchi (sweet sake) and karakuchi (dry sake), sake called houjun umakuchi (rich flavored delicious sake) is now on the increase. Different sake flavors have been created by various elements such as climate, customs, and specific taste for food in each local area. Fukui Prefecture faces the Japan Sea and is dotted with fishing villages along the coast where dry sake is favored. Recently jizake categorized into junmai sake which is brewed with only water, rice, and komekouji, or malted rice, is gaining popularity among women. In this way, blessed with suitable climate for sake, Fukui Prefecture has a lot of authentic sake.
One of the reasons for delicious taste of jizake in Fukui Prefecture is its geographical feature suitable for brewing sake. A lot of rain and snow fall on Mt. Hakusan and other mountains surrounding it in Okuetsu area located in the mountainous area of Fukui Prefecture. Then, they are transformed into subsoil water over a period of several decades absorbing rich minerals in these mountains. In this way, Okuetsu area has many excellent natural water sources and headstreams of major rivers in Fukui Prefecture such as the Kuzuryu River, the Asuwa River, and the Hino River. In addition, there are a lot of exquisite and well-conserved water sources and springs in various places in the prefecture, each of which has slightly different taste.
Sake brewing requires not only many complicated producing procedures, but continuous efforts of the brewers as well. There is a saying among the local sake brewers that goes, “High-quality sake comes from rich pure water.” As this saying shows, water plays a crucial role in the producing procedures of sake. A lot of water is used in such sake brewing processes as shikomi, mixing main ingredients, warimizu, diluting raw sake with water, and so on. Delicious taste of sake comes from the efforts by the brewers to use even each drop of pure water carefully which is created after passing through many layers of earth over the years.
Another crucial role played in sake brewing is rice. Such rice brands as Gohyakumangoku and Yamadanishiki, which are called shuzou koutekimai, suitable rice for brewing sake, are precious ingredients indispensable to sake brewing. Fukui Prefecture has been known as the major production area of rice suitable for sake and boasts the second highest production of rice nationwide used for sake brewing named “Gohyakumangoku” which is grown in Okuetsu area where excellent pure water is running here and there.
Japanese sake in Fukui Prefecture has been brewed under the best weather conditions by making the most of pure water and good rice in the prefecture. Under these conditions, a lot of exquisite sake has been created by the craftsmanship of touji, sake producers, using excellent yeast for brewing sake. The best way to relish sake would be to drink it thinking of the long history of these brewers and excellent climate of Fukui Prefecture suitable for creating excellent sake.
© 公益社团法人福井县观光联盟 All Rights Reserved.