Photos by Takahiro Takiguchi
Photos by Takahiro Takiguchi

In Japan, look out for the sugitama, a symbol sake is maturing

by Takahiro Takiguchi
Stripes Japan

On your adventures around the Land of the Rising Sun, you may have seen one or two large spheres made of branches hanging from the entryways of restaurants, breweries, or off traditional Japanese buildings. These may seem like random decorations but their purpose is a signal to sake brewers and connoisseurs alike.

Sugitama, are large spheres ranging in size from about two to six feet in diameter, made of cedar branches. Brewers hang these green sugitama from the eaves of their main brewing buildings at the start of the brewing and aging season. By November and December, the cedar branches have browned indicating the sake has matured to its peak soft and profound flavor.

The cedar ball is considered to have originally offered to the god of sake for showing their gratitude when new sake was successfully brewed.

Remember Sugitama cedar ball and enjoy the changing smell and flavor of sake with this unique sign of maturity.

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