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oysters
On my previous visit to Kagoshima in the summer of 2012, I had not done any sightseeing, instead just nonstop distillery tours during the day and izakaya visits at night. I managed to go three days in Kagoshima without even seeing Sakurajima, the volcano that looms over the city from across the bay. I'd already remedied that on previous days, but decided to stroll aimlessly around the city to see what it was like. Read More...

future
With no set itinerary for the weekend, I was able to sleep in a little before Yagi-kun picked me up for the drive to the Sakurajima ferry terminal. On our drive Sakurajima was silent until it wasn't. An enormous eruption sent ash billowing skyward in a startling display of the volcano's volatility. Startling apparently only to me as Yagi-kun and his wife didn't seem at all surprised or impressed. They stopped the car for a photo nonetheless. Read More...

yachi thumbs
I awoke in the traditional tatami room for an early breakfast with the Shacho-san prepared in traditional fashion by his traditional wife in his traditional home. It was pretty special. We made the short drive to his distillery where the staff was waiting to greet us. The drive up the valley to the sakagura was beautiful. The distillery itself had reopened 10 years earlier after a complete remodeling. Read More...

koji box
I was up at 6am to wash the sweet potatoes – all 900 kg this time. Each basket of imo are put into a washing machine for 90 seconds. The timer will tell you how long it takes for you to load your next basket. When I first started I was hovering around 60 seconds to make the transition – get the washed imo out and put the next basket of dirty imo in. Today I managed to get this down to 45 or so seconds on average and as low as 39 seconds. Read More...

cedarstill
I was up at 5am to wash 900 kg of sweet potatoes before taking an early morning train (6:42am departure) to Kirishima in northern Kagoshima. This is an area near where Kumamoto, Miyazaki, and Kagoshima meet. Not far from Hitoyoshi where I visited early in my trip or from Kirishima Shuzo in Miyazaki, this is a shochu haven. Read More...

yz office
The entire reason for this trip was to come learn how to make shochu. Tekkan-san, toji of Yamato Zakura Shuzo in Ichiki, Kagoshima Prefecture, was kind enough to allow me to come work under his instruction. I'd met him thanks to Komasa-san, president of Komasa Shuzo, one of the largest distilleries in Kagoshima. Read More...

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