Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Hamada Shochu Factory

On Aug. 26, there was an arts and crafts fair in the town of Ichiki-Kushikino, which is on the western side of Kyushu, about a 45-minute drive from Kagoshima City.  One of the women active in organizing cross-cultural events (she'd organized the kiri-e event I attended back around March) at the San-L building volunteered to drive several of the foreigners living in Kagoshima out to see the fair.  The fair itself mostly consisted of artists and craftsmen trying to promote their clothing, jewelry and the products of other hobbies.  One guy had about 20 of the kind of origami that I make, only much, much more elaborate.  And one woman demonstrated her process of making custom washi (Japanese paper) art.  It was interesting to see everything, but I couldn't find anything that made a good photo, so I don't have any shots from the fair itself.

Afterward, we went about 4 blocks in towards town to the Hamada shochu works for a tour of the factory, and a tasting of the shochu and ume-shu (plum wine).  I liked the plum and orange wines they make, but one of the shochus had a really bad aftertaste so I decided to only buy some snack candies and crackers from the shop.The tour started out with a long explanation of the factory's history and it's place in the community.

Just inside the hall leading from the shop to the main work area, there's a display case with traditional armor and the taiko drum.  A couple times a year, the owners take the armor and drum out to wear for festivals and local events.

Display case showing the traditional shochu-making process.

In front of the shop is a portable mikoshi.

One of the aging rooms in the main warehouse building.

All of the labels are applied to the bottles by hand.

There's a one-room museum at the end of the tour route, with an old boiler, aging casks and other artifacts.

The tour is kid-friendly.  At various points, the tour guide encouraged one of the kids to pose with the equipment for photo ops for the parents.

Display of most of the shop's shochu and ume-shu products.

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