Rick is at Daimon Shuzo, Osaka, Japan, participating sake internship program. Here is the report....
Within 10 minutes of our arrival at the Daimon Shuzo kura, we were immersed in the transfer of koji from wooden box-like trays to a burlap lined, wire mesh-based variety. We were smelling, smoothing, and yes, even tasting the almost styrofoam-like grains of rice that were now in a state of saccharine transformation due to the effects of exposure to their koji-kin invaders. With apologies for the lack of specific terminology, it was the experience of immediate entrance into the world and craft of sake brewing that was singularly exhilarating.
Our welcome from Shacho (President) and Toji (Brewmaster) Yasutaka Daimon was at the same time, warm, gracious, and enthusiastic. "Fasten your seat belts!" he exclaimed as he smiled at us from the top of the stairway. And then, there we were, up to our eyes in koji.
The subsequent exploration of our new home ultimately led to a steep, well-worn wooden stairway which led to our sleeping quarters. Looking straight up into the eaves of this ancient structure, I was struck by the feeling (realization?) that I was exactly where I most wanted to be. The stairway symbolized that point of entry from one world to the next.