SUMPTUOUS, PALE BLOSSOMScontent than Japan's average drinking water and includes potassium, magnesium and calcium, good for the cultivation of the koji fungus and yeast required in the brewing. Many brewers even relocate in search of superior water. Probably the best-known water for brewing purposes is Miya water, found in a particular area of Kobe. Surprisingly enough, Tokyo is also blessed with quality groundwater and subterranean water and a long history of sake production and discerning upper class samurai palates dating from the mid Tokugawa Era, around the 18th century.The rice koji, or starter, provides the enzymes that break down starch into sugar molecules. The starter is cultivated by sprinkling a fungus called Aspergillus oryzae on steamed rice, which is then stored with the temperatures and humidity carefully regulated. Japan is home to some 1,700 sake breweries, and the vast majority of these are small-to medium-sized, yielding over 15,000 varieties of different sake, which, we are told, can last up to one year after opening the bottle if kept properly refrigerated.7

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