What is Bodaisen?

The “Goshu no Nikki” is Japan’s first technical book on sake brewing written by ordinary citizens. Said to have been written in 1335 or 1487, this book contains the first descriptions of sake brewing at Bodaisen Shoryaku-ji.

 

The sake made was called “Bodaisen”. Made in kame jars, and not in stages, it is a predecessor to modern-day sake (which is made in a three-stage process). The process for making this sake evolved into a shubo making process which came to be widely known as “Bodaimoto”. The Bodai-ken research group revived “Bodaisen” brewing at Shoryaku-ji Temple in 2021.

 

Brewing Process for Bodaisen (as described in the “Goshu no Nikki”)

Bodaisen. Wash 1to (18 litres) of white rice thoroughly until the water remains clear. Steam 1sho (1.8 litres) of this rice. If it is summer, the steamed rice must be cooled. Next, put the steamed rice in a bamboo draining basket to cool it. Once cooled, submerge it into the remaining white rice being soaked. Wrap the mouth of the pot and leave it overnight. (This elutes the required nutrients facilitating the growth of bacteria.) On the third day, place another barrel to the side, scoop out the clearer upper portion (supernate) of the lactic acidic liquid in the pot, and then take out the steamed rice that was submerged in the soaking rice, and set it aside. Next, take 9sho (16 litres) of the soaked rice and steam it thoroughly. Steamed rice needs to be especially well cooled in the summer. Mix 1sho of the 5sho of koji rice with the steamed rice set aside earlier, and spread half of this mixture all over the base of a barrel. Furthermore, mix 4 sho of the koji rice with the steamed rice (9sho). At this point, measure about 1to of the water that was scooped earlier and pour it in from above. Spread out the remaining half of the mixture of steamed rice (1sho) and koji rice (1sho) on top of the mash. With this, the preparation stage is complete so wrap the mouth of the pot. Leave for seven days and the sake will be ready. If the sake is not required immediately, it can be left for about ten days.

This brewing method forms the origins of the method for preparing Bodaimoto, and the above description was referred to when reproducing “Bodaisen”.

 

The revival of “Bodaisen”, which was a cornerstone of sake brewing, is a cultural project for conveying the history of temple brewing of the Muromachi period to future generations. For sake to become widely recognized and enjoyed around the world, we strongly believe that it is necessary to convey both the appeal of the taste of sake itself and its historical background.