In the Japanese culinary tradition, fermentation plays a very important, if not indispensable role. For example, soy sauce and miso, made from soy beans, are essential cooking ingredients. Sake, or nihonshu 日本酒 in Japanese, is made from fermented rice. In addition to being a popular beverage, it is also used widely in cooking. As for dishes, natto (fermented soy beans) is another favorite fermented food.

Riding on the recent boom in shokuiku 食育 "food education" initiatives in Japan, famous sake brand Hakutsuru has decided to hold a one-day seminar in their Kobe headquarters entitled "Open Brewery Parent/Child Seminar: Can You Guess What You Can Make From Rice and Water?" to educate children about sake and other fermented foods.

According to their press release, Hakutsuru hopes their seminar will allow kids to enjoy their "open brewery" (with their parents) and "provide an opportunity for them to become interested in Japanese food and Japanese traditions. Through experiments and quizzes, children will experience the fermentation process occurring in traditional Japanese fermented foods (natto, soy sauce, miso, sake, etc.) in a way that's easy for them to understand."

While the term sakagura kaiho 酒蔵開放 (literally "open brewery") may evoke images of adults visiting a sake brewery and tasting sake at various stages of fermentation, an experience which is increasingly available at Japanese sake breweries and a popular activity for tourists, both Japanese and foreign, in this instance it merely indicates that Hakutsuru is exceptionally allowing the public to enter the premises. It is worth mentioning that children will not be drinking sake at any time during this seminar, nor is this event designed to encourage underage drinking. (You must be 20 years old to drink alcohol in Japan).

Seminar Details

  • Date: April 7th, 2018
  • Morning Session: 10:00-12:00 (reception from 9:30, 10:30-11:30 free time)
  • Afternoon Session: 14:00-16:00 (reception from 13:30, 14:30-15:30 free time)
  • Eligible: Elementary school children and their parents (siblings may also attend)
  • Capacity: 16 pairs per session (around 48 people). If there are too many applicants, a lottery will be conducted and the results informed by email.
  • Location: Hakutsuru Brewery Co., Ltd. Headquarters, 5F (4-5-5 Sumiyoshi Minami-machi, Higashinada-ku, Kobe, Hyogo, Japan 658-0041)
  • Instructor: Dr. Takafumi Kubodera, Ph.D in Agricultural Science (Research and Development Department, Hakutsuru)
  • 500 JPY per family (gift included)
  • Application Method: Complete the online registration here (in Japanese).
  • Deadline: March 25th (Sun), 24:00 (JST)
  • Notification Date: March 26th (Mon), by email.

By - grape Japan editorial staff.