Tasting Note Tsuki no Katsura “YANAGI” Junmai Ginjo

"Yanagi" Tasting Summary
“Yanagi” Tasting Summary

This elegant and wonderful round sake is mild, mouth-watering and well balanced. It’s strong fragrance of strawberry, banana and melon it is only subtly supported on the palate.

With its light body and warm, round mouth feel it would marvelously serve as a sundowner on a warm late summer evening. If you are into Jazz, it reminds me of the voice of Ayako Hosokawa. But whatever music you listen to when you drink it, be careful. The combination of fruit and acidity is seductive, making it hard to stop.


Label of the Tsuki no Katsura "Yanagi" Junmai Ginjo
Label of the Tsuki no Katsura “Yanagi” Junmai Ginjo
  • Seimei Buai (Milling Rate): 50%
  • Rice: Yamada Nishiki
  • Alcohol: 16%
  • SMV: +2
  • Acidity: 1,5
  • Yeast: #9

Food Pairing

This very light Ginjo goes well as an aperitif as well as with appetizers or a salad with citrusy vinaigrette. Equally well was a pairing with sashimi and a fruity, creamy shira aé (persimmons with tofu sauce).

Brewery Profile:

The Masuda Tokubee Shoten brewery, known under the brand name ‘Tsuki no Katsura’ was founded in 1675 and is therefore one of the oldest breweries in the Fushimi area of Kyoto.

Kyoto Prefecture in the Kansai Region
Kyoto Prefecture in the Kansai Region

The current president, Masuda Tokubee is the 14th generation of his family to run the brewery, which has been passed down for 341 years. Tsuki no Katsura introduced a new kind of sake in 1964, which is today known as Nigori-sake, roughly filtered and milky sake. It is not just their Nigori-sake, which made Tsuki no Katsura became a nationally known sake brewery. They also preserve probably the oldest aged sake in Japan, dating back 50 years.

Good Luck Sake

I have the roasted soy beans ready. Only the onimask (demon mask) for my husband is missing. My girls tried to make one, but unfortunately it was neither scary nor durable and did not stand the test of time. So we have about another week to get fully ready for Setsubun.

Setsubun accessories
Setsubun accessories

Setsubun is the break of the seasons, which today is only celebrated at the break of winter, on February 3rd. Referring to the Japanese lunar calendar Setsubun was previously thought of something like New Years. As such in the Setsubun ritual the evil spirits of the old year are expelled and the good spirits for the year to come are invited in. In our house my husband gets to be the oni, representing the evil sprits and my girls throw fuku mame (roasted soy beans that are called ‘fortune beans’) at him, shouting “Oni wa soto!” (“demons out!”). But remember – nothing goes to waste, so afterwards they go outside, pick them up again and to my ‘delight’ throw them back in our living room shouting “Fuku wa uchi!” (“luck in!”). To complete the luck, everyone gets to eat the fuku mame. One for each year of one’s life and in some areas one more for the year to come.

This year I have counted 866 soy beans. And even if, I would deny that we are that old, so no way they can all be eaten in our little Setsubun ritual. But they serve wonderfully as beer or sake snack. So for this year I decided that we will enjoy them with a chilled glass of Tsuki no Katsura ‘Yanagi’ Junmai Ginjo from Fushimi in Kyoto, which I will introduce in detail in my next post.