Monday, August 26, 2013

A Japan Photo per Day - Sugidama, the Sake indicator

Kurashiki, Okayama
Visiting the traditional areas, in front of some shops, you may notice unusual spheres made of a wood-like material, sometimes over half a meter wide. At the first glance you may think these are some weirdly large wasp nests… Called sugidama, they are in fact remains of a very old tradition.

When a new lot of sake is ready, a sphere made of green, freshly picked needles of sugi (Cryptomeria japonica) - sugidama - is hung in front of the brewery. After a while, when the sugidama turns brown, it indicates that the sake has aged enough and it is now good for drinking…

Today, sugidama is no longer used to indicate the age of the sake but it is used to indicate a traditional sake brewery, a sake shop or pub, as you can see in this photo from Kurashiki, Okayama…

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