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Sake Times reports on a library that does more than lend books – it also has its own sake. Itami is a city in Hyogo Prefecture, a Japanese region famous for sake and credited with the development of modern techniques that made reliable mass production possible. Following the sake theme, the new city library built in 2012 was named “Kotobagura”, or the storehouse (kura, 蔵) of words (kotoba, ことば). The library released sake with its own original labels in October to celebrate its fifth anniversary.

100 years ago, breweries could be found lining the streets in the area where the library now stands, and it was actually built on what is thought to be the site of the old Kenbishi brewery. Founded in 1505 as Inaderaya, it’s not clear how long the present Kenbishi brewery was at that location but the area is steeped in sake history.

The idea of releasing a sake with the library’s own labels came from a community meeting where people from the city and wider area were invited to give suggestions for activities and projects. The labels were designed by a member of library staff. The sake in the bottles comes from local breweries Oimatsu and Konishi. The Oimatsu bottle has a label showing a tree growing from an open book, and contains their tokubetsu honjozo Itamikyo (Itami village/hometown). The Konishi bottle shows a tree with people and objects on its branches, and contains their signature special selection Shirayuki junmai Akafuji.

The project ran into an unexpected problem – sale and consumption of alcohol is not allowed in public libraries so it’s on sale from the breweries instead, which are close by. The library is also holding events to pass sake-related traditions on to the younger generation.





I noticed that Sake Times had another Top 5 listed and thought it was worth sharing.

5. What is kimoto? – Easy to understand, you can use it in conversation straight away! Explaining technical terms (Japanese)

4. 14th successive gold medal in the National New Sake Appraisals! What advantage does Kawakei Shoten, makes of Koganezawa in Miyagi Prefecture, have? (Japanese)

3. What is yamahai? – Easy to understand, you can use it in conversation straight away! Explaining technical terms (Japanese)

2. It’s like a sake museum! Perfect for people visiting a brewery for the first time, we show you the Imayotsukasa brewery in Niigata from top to bottom! (Japanese)

1. Stop that hangover – this is what you need for that drinking party! A selection of 5 supplements and drinks you can buy at convenience stores (Japanese)

Needless to say, the last one needs a giant “cite your sources” warning, but I did notice a lot of products allegedly helping you to cope with extreme drinking while I was there. Hmm.