Tasting sake at S. Imanishi Co., Ltd. Harushika brewery in Nara.

S. Imanishi Co., Ltd. is a Japanese sake brewery located about a 5-minute walk from Gangoji temple (A World Heritage Site). The brewery is behind the store where “Harushika” sake and various goods are sold.
You can enjoy tasting five different types of seasonal sake. The brewery is a great place to visit. Imanishi shoin is located next door and was registered as an Important Cultural Property in 1959.


【CONTENTS】
The origin for the name, “Harushika”.
Two responsibilities of Harushika brewery are; to pass down the tradition of “Nanto-morohaku”, and to be innovative.
It’s a good souvenir! Let’ taste sake and find a favorite.
When you visit Harushika brewery, please drop by Imanishi shoin!

Kasuga-Taisha Shrine
Kasuga-Taisha Shrine

The origin for the name, “Harushika”.

The first part of Harushika (春鹿:spring deer) was taken from the Chinese character used in the name of Kasuga-Taisha Shrine, 春 (日Kasuga). The second part of it’s name is the word for deer (鹿), which are considered divine animals.
Deer are believed to be messengers of God at Kasuga-Taisha Shrine. According to legend, when Kasuga-Taisha Shrine was founded, it’s God came to Nara from Kashima-Jingu Shrine, Ibaragi Prefecture on the back of a deer.

A deer figurine that is displayed in the store.
A deer figurine that is displayed in the store.

Two responsibilities of Harushika brewery are; to pass down the tradition of “Nanto-morohaku”, and to be innovative.

High quality Nanto-morohaku sake was usually made at temples in Nara from the middle of the Heian period (794-1185) to the end of the Muromachi period (1336-1573).

“Innovation is in tradition”. The Harushika brewery continues the same practice of producing Nanto-morohaku, as well as challenging themselves by incorporating current methods with old world tradition.

Their motto is, “Polish the rice, polish the water, polish the technique, and polish the mind.”
In accordance with the basic principle, they devote themselves to make clean sake every day.

The curtain hanging at the entrance to the shop
The curtain hanging at the entrance to the shop

The curtain hanging at the entrance to the Harushika shop has words from a classical Japanese play (Noh performing art). “Sake can not stop being poured, Sake will never make one hung over.” This letters were written by the 4th owner of the shop.

In the script, a man who made good quality sake as his business was visited by a sake deity. He shared his sake with the deity. They never got drunk and enjoyed their party over night. The next morning, the deity gave a magical sake bottle that was never dried up, to show his appreciation.

The owner learned from this and thought it was good to have the words on his shop curtain because his duty is making good quality sake that makes people feel happy.

the harushika shop

It’s a good souvenir! Let’ taste sake and find a favorite.

If you buy a glass for 500 yen, you can taste five types of sake.

glasses for sake tasting

You can choose from 4 different colors of glasses. They are; white as snow, pink as a cherry blossom, purple as a Japanese hydrangea or wisteria, and cool looking blue. You can also exchange it for another color after tasting.

This glass has a carving of a deer on the bottom and goes well with Western tableware. It is also very small and easy to carry anywhere.

There are 5 types of seasonal sake. English and Japanese menus are available and you can enjoy tasting sake while having a seat.
Narazuke (preserved in sake lees of Harushika and salt) will be served to cleanse your palate.

It’s a full array of sake in the shop!

You can purchase your favorite sake in the shop!

Imanishi shoin
Imanishi shoin

When you visit Harushika brewery, please drop by Imanishi shoin!

Imanishi shoin was built using a style of domestic Japanese architecture called, shoin-zukuri*, developed during the early Muromachi period (1336-1573). It was designated as a National Treasure in 1937, and an Important Cultural Property in 1959. An admission fee is required to tour the facility.

*shoin-zukuri: The Residential Japanese architectural styles which were established after the middle of the Muromachi period to include Tokonoma. Tokonoma is a recess in a traditional Japanese room where artistic scrolls and flowers are on display.

Nekoma shoji were seen in the residences of aristocrats before the Muromachi Period. They are double paper sliding doors set in a single track. The name, “Nekoma shoji” (猫間障子:猫=cat) originated from the fact that the single track looks like a straight road a cat would walk. When closing the sliding doors, they become one big paper wall. It is easier to gather sunshine through the paper of a sliding door. The ajiro-ami room has a unique ceiling that was woven by a method called “ajiro-ami”, or wickerwork within sheets of Japanese cedar shavings.

There’s a café inside the shoin where you can enjoy things such as homemade Japanese plum syrup and soda, and dai-ginjo* sake lees flavored ice cream. You can also enjoy lunch (A reservation needed three days in advance).
Various events are held in each room of the shoin, including a calligraphy exhibition and a shamisen performance. Please contact Imanishi shoin directly for further details, because a reservation is required. (TEL 0742-23-2256)

*dai-ginjo: Super high-quality sake brewed from rice grains, polished to a weight of 50% or less.

Map

24-1 Fukuchi in-cho, Nara city, Nara Prefecture

You might also like

AUTHOR

kyoami

kyoami

Writer/ Translator

I love Japanese folkcraft article, traditional handicrafts and antiques. I’m seeking the Japanese people’s religious outlooks and its origins that are behind Japanese people’s unique sense and techniques rooted in the ordinary life.

Information

Address 24-1 Fukuchi in-cho, Nara city, Nara Prefecture
Hours 8:15-17:15(Open of Sundays)
Price -
Close Summer holidays, the year-end, New Year holidays, and 2 days for company events (They close around eleven days a year)
Access ・3-minute walk from the Nara Kotsu bus stop “Tenri-kaido Fukuchi in-cho” from Kintetsu Nara Station.
・15 minute walk from Kintetsu Nara Station
Phone 0742-23-2255
Website http://www.harushika.com