Japan Times Archives – 1999, John Guantner

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Sake tools you can trust

By JOHN GAUNTNER

Happy Holidays to all Japan Times readers.

There are sure to be, among all you merry-makers, a few last-minute shoppers. Perhaps a sake accouterment would be perfect for that one last gift. In this, the last Nihonshu column of the year, century and millennium, let’s look at a few of the sake toys and tools around town.

On top of being the holiday season, it is also the cold season. And nothing cures that like warmed sake. We all know that perhaps 90 percent of all good sake should be served cold, but for that remaining 10 percent — and those less discerning readers — the right serving temperature is paramount. That too varies with preferences, but could be said to be about 40-48 C.

For measuring that temperature, try the O-kan meter. It is a small thermometer with winglike protrusions on the side near the top. This allows you to set it in a tokkuri with the sensing bulb in the center of the tokkuri, not too low near the heat. It also allows you to pull it out easily and quickly. A nifty little tool for 1,000 yen available at (at least) Seibu Loft.

Next, should you be filling tokkuri regularly, you’ll want the “jido (automatic) filler,” available at 100 yen shops for, well, 100 yen. It snaps neatly on to a 1.8-liter bottle of sake (or shoyu, for that matter) and allows you to pour neatly into a tokkuri. The pouring end is a slightly elongated tube. When the level in the tokkuri reaches the top, the sake automatically stops coming out of the bottle, preventing the dreaded overflows. Clean and simple. Waste not, want not. Should you not finish the bottle in one serving, there are several