Niconico News has an article for any gotta catch ’em all types who can’t decide whether to go on a pilgrimage where you collect calligraphy from temples, or go through a list of sake breweries – now you don’t have to decide because you can get special notebooks listing participating sake breweries that will give you a stamp when you visit.
[The article pitches it as something for heavy drinkers, which is a bit at odds with the photos of elegant ladies in kimono shuffling down streets with traditional houses. Maybe that’s just stereotyping on my part.]
In case you hadn’t already guessed, this is yet another pun-based product. A goshuin-cho (御朱印帳) is a special notebook carried by pilgrims as they travel between temples, handed in at each destination to allow the monks to apply a red-inked stamp and calligraphy to a page as proof of the visit. Pulling out the character 朱 (shu, vermillion), and changing it to the character 酒 (shu, alcohol) results in another goshuin-cho (御酒印帳) which is instead a notebook for sake stamps.
The traditional goshuin-cho has seen a revival in recent years as more people structure trips around religious or natural “power spots” and collect calligraphy and stamps as they go, leading to the development of designer notebooks to appeal to a non-traditional audience. And in this case, to a notebook for a different kind of journey entirely.
Each participating brewery sticks a label inside the book and also stamps it with their official stamp, while the traveller uses the notebook as a handy way of recording their impressions and notes on sake they tasted.
The official site currently lists 67 participating breweries around the country, with more expected to join the project – not a huge number relative to the number of breweries, as the article points out, and also not a guide to every brewery in the country. The article also links to the National Tax Agency maps, which have caused some concern as it originally wasn’t clear which breweries could accept visitors. (See John Gauntner’s article “Sakagura tourism? Not so fast!“)