The diversity of Nagano Prefecture’s sake brought to life by water, rice, and the skill and senses of its people

Vol.0 : Sake
Surrounded by 3,000 meter mountains, Nagano Prefecture offers distinct seasonal changes.
Especially in winter, the differences in climate are clearly visible due to the terrain that stretches 220 kilometers from north to south. While the northern part of the prefecture, which is one of the heaviest snowfall areas in Japan, is buried under deep snow, the central and southern parts of the prefecture boast one of the highest rates of clear skies in Japan, with dry air on the plains and severe cooling due to radiative cooling. The snow that accumulates in the mountains, including the Japan Alps that run from north to south and separate the prefecture from the rest of the country, eventually melts and turns into water that enriches the fields at the foot of the mountains and nurtures.
Nagano Prefecture’s sake has been nurtured by taking advantage of the prefecture’s climatic characteristics. Currently, there are 78 sake breweries in the prefecture, the second largest in Japan. While some sake breweries are well known throughout the country, many of them are small but meticulously brewed. Just as the landscape differs from village to village separated by mountains, the wisdom and customs of the people who have survived in these areas have nurtured traditions, food culture, and temperament, which is why many unique sake breweries are still in existence.
A “sake evangelist” has come to Japan from France to focus on such sake from Nagano Prefecture. Mr. Ly Youlin, who has a sake store “La Maison du Sake” with a restaurant in the center of Paris, is a leading figure in the promotion of Japanese sake in France. He visited 12 sake breweries in Nagano Prefecture. Water, rice, and people are indispensable for sake brewing,” he said, noting in particular the cool and crisp water of Nagano Prefecture.
The water of Nagano Prefecture has a delicious flavor that penetrates easily into the body, like being bathed in negative ions in a forest,” he said. The charm of sake made with clean water, carefully nurtured rice, and people working hand in hand and putting their heart and soul into it can be felt the moment it touches your mouth..
His journey across the sake brewery took four nights and five days, covering more than 500 kilometers.
In this series, we share with you his journey to discover the potential of sake rooted in each region and the charm of each brewery, while experiencing the climate of Nagano Prefecture and the thoughts of its brewers.
In Vol. 1, we report on our visit to the northern part of the prefecture, where snow is abundant, and in Vol. 2, we report on our visit to the eastern and central parts of the prefecture, where the temperature difference between day and night is extreme.

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