Plowing with horses, when people and horses work together in the rice fields “Tazinba” is a Japanese sake created from pesticide-free brewer’s rice grown in fields fertilized with the manure of grass-eating horses who then plow the soil using age-old techniques. Successive plowing with horses brings out the original essence of the soil, and the ensuing “Japanese Terroir” will carry the memory and taste of that soil into the future, ten years from now, a hundred years from now. “Tazinba” is a truly unique sake that carries Japan’s unspoiled landscape to the world.
2020 – Spring. The creation of Japanese sake using horses to plow the fields has started in Tsunan, Niigata Prefecture, under the guidance of Takashi Iwama, one of the few remaining people who have kept alive ancient techniques of plowing and logging with horses.
The horses till the fields with the people, they eat the local grass, and their manure returns to the soil as fertilizer. The rice that is grown from this coming together of the land, the people, and the horses is the pesticide-free brewer’s rice variety called “Gohyakumangoku.” The truly unique “Tazinba” Japanese sake brings to the world the beauty of Japan’s unspoiled landscapes and its traditional culture.
(TA) is for Rice Field
“Tazinba” is made in a mountainous rural area of Tsunan, Niigata Prefecture. This is a land of fields, mountains, and nature. The beautifully terraced rice fields are situated at a height of 600 meters and clear mountain water flows from the uppermost streams coming from Mount Naeba. The horses that have eaten the local grass then plow the fields (田) and their manure becomes the fertilizer that regenerates the soil. In the world of wine, they call the land that carries within it the greatest manifestation of its particular soil a “terroir.” This land, nourished with mountain water, and then tilled over and over with horses to bring out the deepest essence of the soil, can proudly be described as a world-class “Japanese terroir
(ZIN) is for People
Takashi Iwama is one of the few remaining people in Japan to transmit the almost forgotten arts of logging and plowing with horses. He has been working in Tsunan, Niigata Prefecture, with a number of people trained by him, growing rice using horses to plow. Without relying on machinery, without damaging the countryside, these old but new techniques are brought to life and used generate a symbiosis between people and horses. The time and the skill this takes tie in directly with the taste of the sake.
(BA) is for Horse
The beautiful shiny coat and the sturdy legs that are a testimony to the horses that are raised eating the bounty of the earth. The picture on the bottles of “Tazinba” is a copy of an “Ema” illustration of horseman Takashi Iwama working with his horse in a terraced field. The “Ema” illustrated votive horse tablets in shrines represented a white horse and a black horse, and were used to pray for bumper crops. The white horse represented clear skies and the black horse represented rain.
“Tazinba” sake therefore comes in two varieties, the “white” and the black,” that bring out the characteristics of this rice steeped in a “Japanese terroir.” The “Tazinba White” is crafted by the Tsunan Brewery which is local to where the rice is grown, and is a “Junmai Daiginjo” sake that is replete with the strength to live in a snow country that is also magical in its mountain streams and snowy landscapes. The “Tazinba Black” is crafted by the Shotoku Brewery based in Fushimi, Kyoto, and boasts a history going back to 1645. It uses a characteristic “Kimoto-Zukuri” style to bring out the taste of the rice itself and enhance natural flavors.
“Tazinba” vividly reflects the hues of Japan’s unspoiled landscapes. It appeals to all the senses, whether in combination with ingredients or venison that have benefited from the best the land can offer, or local cuisine, in fact with any familiar food.