Made for the gods: the Mukyu Tenon Kimoto Junmai Daiginjo
Updated: Aug 15
I am not one of those atheists who maintain a fervent intolerance of religions or even a devout hatred of believers. I am rather admiring of those who have faith, and sometimes even envious of their candor.
And we must recognize that in literature, in music, in fine arts and even in cinema; the religious fervor of certain creators has often enabled them to achieve the sublime.
A few weeks before the pandemic, MIYASHITA Yusuke San shared with me a bottle of Mukyū Tenon Kimoto Junmai Ginjo Sake, a precisely sublime sake, created by Toji Tatsuya KOJIMA whose approach is to produce sake for the gods. Yes, for the gods.
At some point, I wondered why people started making and drinking sake in the first place. After doing some research and talking to the high priest at Saka Shrine, I realized that sake was originally a sacred drink that was naturally pure and potent.
I said to myself: “Let’s make a sacred sake, an Omiki 御神酒, that is to say a sake to offer to the gods by seeking purity rather than taste or aromas. Let's do it to express our gratitude by transforming the rice, which is a blessing of nature, and to pay tribute to the work of the farmers".
—Toji Tatsuya KOJIMA
For the record, the Itakura Brewery is located in the city of Izumo (Shimane prefecture), a spiritual place celebrated in Japanese mythology and one of the cradles of sake brewing. This is where the god Ōkuninushi 大国主 descended from the sky and began the creation of Japan. And every year, in October, all the deities of the country (there are millions of them) meet there!
In the past, rice wine was offered to the gods to pray for an abundant harvest. The rituals associated with these offerings induced an esprit de corps allowing more effective teamwork and therefore richer production.
The Tenon brand name comes from the Mukyu Tenon 無窮天穏 of the Buddhist scriptures. Mukyu 無窮 means painless. Tenon 天穏 means calm peaceful sky. Their combination could be translated as "Under a peaceful skies there is no suffering.
The word SAKE of Mukyū Tenon Junmai Ginjo Sake refers to the word 齋供 formerly pronounced Saïka and from which comes the word sake 酒 designating alcohol.
齋: clean, pure and sacred, religious purification
供: food, incense, service.
Therefore, the word SAKE 齋供 could be translated as " pure offering, religious sacrifice ".
Making sake is the most tangible form of the act of praying; it is literally transforming the rice they have offered us into a feast for the gods.
The Omiki 御神酒 is an offering to show gratitude.
At the time when microorganisms were not known, the manufacture of sake, just like the culture of rice, was a mysterious world. The rituals were also used to preserve and transmit empirical knowledge.
I feel like using nature's blessings like rice and koji and borrowing the power of the gods to make sake is the best thing Japanese people can do to achieve happiness.
—Toji Tatsuya KOJIMA
Each year, the Itakura brewery offers sake at the religious festival of brewing which is held to the important Izumo Taisha and Saka sanctuaries. The Saka sanctuary is dedicated to Kusunokami, the god of sake brewing. It is said that it is the cradle of sake brewing.
There is no sacrifice to offer an ordinary sake to the gods; As there is no generosity to give the poor its outdated cans and its too worn clothes.
When I tasted it in December 2019, just before the pandemic, the Mukyū Tenon Junmai Ginjo Sake was a Ginjo (Seimaibuai 60%), from Tatsuya Kojima decided to make it a Daiginjo (Seimaibuai 50%).
The search for purity and the quest for the divine demand that we make a Daiginjo.
—Toji Tatsuya KOJIMA
Since the Kimoto sakes are fragile, I did not dare to make them travel while the logistics chains were seriously slowed down by the pandemic.
Now, because the transport times are shortened, I think the time is appropriate to extract from the altar of sacrifice the divine Mukyū Tenon Kimoto Junmai Daiginjo Sake in order to share in Quebec some bottles of this celestial peace.