Interview Vol.4 元代 斉藤元紀・鈴代 | Doburoku “Gendai” Motonori & Suzuyo Saito

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あのときのおいしい記憶を辿って
昔ながらの “どぶろく” を、もう一度
The traditional “Doburoku” is reaching back into my memories once again

日本古来のお酒「どぶろく」をご存知でしょうか。主に農業に従事する人たちによってつくられていた、お米を使った生酒です。祭りや祝事の際にふるまわれ、庶民の暮らしに欠かせないものでした。明治32年(1899年)に酒税法が制定され、自家醸造が禁止されるまでは各家庭に伝わる味があったといいます。 「ここ三原村にも、昔はどぶろくつくりの名人がいっぱいおったがよ。いけないことやけど、禁止されてからもこっそりつくる人もいたみたいで。それだけどぶろくは、身近な飲み物で、おいしいものやったということやね」 と語るのは、昔ながらの味にこだわった、どぶろく「元代」を醸造している斎藤鈴代さん。多くの人に愛され、受け継がれてきた“本物のどぶろく” をいつか自分でつくりたいと思い続けていたそうです。

Do you know what “Doburoku” is like? It is a Japanese traditional raw sake made from rice, and agricultural farmers mainly made them for themselves. It was served to people at festivals or celebrations, and was a necessity in people’s daily lives. Each family made their own unique taste of Doburoku until the government prohibited the production and consumption of home-brewed liquors, Doburoku, in 1899. 

“There used to be many experts at producing Doburoku here in Mihara Village. This is a thing that shouldn’t be done, but I hear some people made it privately. That’s how much it was delicious and was a daily drink for people,” says Suzuyo Saito, a brewer of classical Doburoku named “Gendai.” She had pictured herself making the “real taste of Doburoku” for a long time, which was loved by many people and was handed down through generations.

「どぶろく特区」の制度で開いた
夢の “自家醸造” の扉
The door to her dream of home-brewing opened when “the special zone of Doburoku” was established

その積年の思いに光が差したのが、平成14年(2002年)のこと。地域振興の観点から酒税法の特例が受けられる「どぶろく特区」が制定され、ある条件を満たせば、どぶろくの製造が認められるようになったのです。 「なんとかうちでもつくれんのかと思いながら、毎日、農作業をしていました」 と、当時を振り返るご主人の元紀さん。 しかし、ふたりの夢であったどぶろくの自家醸造には、厳しい条件が立ちはだかりました。当時、どぶろく特区が認可されていた他の地域では、民宿や旅館を営むところでのみ自家製のどぶろくの販売が許可されており、そういった施設のない三原村では許可を得るのが難しかったのです。 「それでも諦めきれんで、役場や商工会の人に “どうしてもやりたい” 言うて相談して。民宿より気軽に始められる “農家食堂” という形で許可がおりたときは、そりゃもう、うれしくて」(元紀さん) そうして平成17年(2005年)に農家食堂「青空屋」がオープンしました。その名の通り、自身で育てたお米と野菜を使った料理でお客様をもてなしています。 「お米の価値がだんだん下がっていく中で、どぶろくで付加価値をつけたいと思っちょりましたが、この田舎に人が来てくれたらいいなという思いもあって。ここを始めてから、全国のいろいろなところからお客様が来てくださって、ほんとに楽しい思いをさせてもらっています」(鈴代さん)

The government enacted “the special zone of Doburoku” for regional development in 2002, which is a special district receiving special treatment on the Liquor Tax Act. The production of Doburoku was allowed only for those who satisfied certain criteria. “I had felt a strong motivation to make our own original Doburoku doing daily farm work,” says her husband, Motonori Saito, looking back in time. They, however, faced some strict terms for producing home-brewed Doburoku. Production and sale is only allowed to be made to hotels and minshuku (private homes that run as inns providing room and meals) in the other special zones of Doburoku at that time. Obtaining permission was difficult for them because there were no such facilities in Mihara Village. “We knew it was hard, but we couldn't give up. We tried to appeal to the village office or the Chamber of Commerce for help. When I got the permission to start a “farmers’ cafeteria,” we were really happy because it's much easier to manage it compared to a minshuku,” says Motonori.   They finally opened their farmers' cafeteria, “Aozora-ya” in 2005. Just like the name “Aozora-ya” suggests, they serve people rice and vegetables that they grow “under the blue sky.” “We've thought of adding extra value to Doburoku, because the value of rice has been going down. Besides, we hope that more people from outside Mihara will come here too. A lot of people have actually come here from all over the country since we started the cafeteria, and we enjoy their company,” says Suzuyo.

 Photo/Shungo Takeda Sake Cup/SHIKICOLORS(NAGAE+)

Photo/Shungo Takeda Sake Cup/SHIKICOLORS(NAGAE+)

すっきり&まろやかな
あのころと今をつなぐ味
Refreshing and mild! The taste connects the good old days to “gendai (today)”

そして肝心のどぶろくはというと、醸造するにあたり、まずは製造免許を取得しなくてはいけません。そこでさっそく県工業技術センターに講習を受けにいった鈴代さんですが、ここでまたあらたな壁が立ちはだかります。 「講習で習ったとおりにつくったんやけど、でき上がったものを試飲してもらったら『これはどぶろくじゃない』って言われてね。だから、昔から伝わるどぶろくの味を知るお客様に感想を聞かせてくださいって。“苦味を抜いたらええ” とか “もっと甘さを増したらええ” とか意見をもらって、自分たちの味をつくっていきました」(鈴代さん) 試行錯誤の上、でき上がったのは、さわやかな酸味の中にほんのりと甘みが感じられる、すっきり&まろやかなテイストのどぶろく。こうして夫妻の万感の思いをこめて誕生したどぶろくは、元紀さん、鈴代さんの名前から一文字ずつとって「元代(gendai)」と名付けられました。昔ながらの味にこだわった、あのころと今をつなぐ、どぶろくです。

Talking about Doburoku, it's necessary to have a license to brew it first.  Suzuyo went to Kochi Prefectural Industrial Technology Center for training, but she was faced with another obstacle. She says, “I tried making it as they had taught and asked a customer to taste it, but he said, ‘It's not the real Doburoku!’ I asked some of our old customers who had great taste in it to tell me their thoughts on our Doburoku. They said to us, ‘Cut down on bitterness,’ ‘Try to add sweetener...’ and so on. Thanks to their suggestions, we were able to gradually get closer to the taste we were looking for.”   After years of trial and error, they have finally made a taste which has a refreshing and well-rounded palate, and you can even enjoy its gentle sweetness with refreshing acidity. Doburoku “Gendai” was born filled with a thousand emotions, and the name “Gendai” was derived from their names: Motonori and Suzuyo.  It's just “today's (meaning gendai in Japanese)” Doburoku linking the past and the present.

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米どころとして有名な三原村で栽培した
絶品の “みはら米” を原料に
Made from the exquisite rice brand “Mihara-mai” which is grown in the famous rice-producing region, Mihara Village

そもそもどぶろくは、お米と水と麹のみでつくられる、とてもシンプルなお酒。 それだけに、材料の味がダイレクトに反映されます。 「三原村は海抜120mの高原地帯の山村。周りを高い山で囲まれているき、夜と昼の温度差がすごいのよ。毎晩ではないけど、ばーっと霧がかかるくらい。その温度差がお米のうまさにつながっちょるがね。あと、水の汚いところやぬくい水のところでは、うまいお米がつくれないけど、ここは水が冷やいから、ほんとにうまいお米ができるが」(元紀さん) つまり、“おいしい米どころ”の三原村は、どぶろくづくりにも最適の土地。さらに、おふたりの米づくりに対するこだわりもまた「元代」の味に深く関わっています。 「もともとうちは牛飼いやけん、堆肥をつくりよったから、土地が肥えていて、なかなか見栄えのいい米ができよったがよ。でもあんまり有機質の肥料を使ったら、量はとれるけど味が落ちてくるが。窒素を重点とした肥料は、大きく育つけど、やりすぎたら軟弱になって病虫害にやられるから控えめにして、開花や結実を助けるリン酸と、根や実の発育に欠かせないカリウムの肥料を多めにしよる」(元紀さん) その配合は、長年の経験による感覚で決めているのだというのだから、さすが。また、なるべく農薬を使わない稲作は害虫との戦いをしいられますが、健康面への影響も考え、そこは頑として減農薬の方針を守るかわりに、稲の品種を工夫し、そのほかの農作業の労力を極力おさえられるようにしています。 「最初は、酒造用一般米のうこん錦を栽培しよったですが、一緒に育てていた食用のコシヒカリと刈り取る時期がずれるのが大変で。それで、コシヒカリを使ってどぶろくをつくるようになったがですが、コシヒカリはいもち病に弱くてね。だけど消毒はあまりしたくないと思うて、コシヒカリよりは抵抗力のある、あきたこまちを栽培するようになりました」(鈴代さん) 農作業の大変さに比べたら、どぶろくつくりはご褒美のようなものと語る鈴代さん。大事に育てられたお米ひと粒ひと粒が、このやわらかな白濁色を生み出しているのです。

Doburoku is simple sake made from only water and rice, and the original flavor of ingredients is exactly reflected in its taste. “Mihara Village is located on highlands, 120 meters above the sea level.  There’s a big difference in temperature between night and day around here by the surrounding high mountains. The fog hangs low across the fields, but it doesn’t happen every night. The drop in temperature brings out the flavor of rice. We can't grow high quality rice in a place that has dirty or warm water, but the water here is cold so we can grow delicious rice,” says Motonori.   That means Mihara is the best place to grow high quality rice. They are very particular about rice cultivation, which is deeply associated with the taste of Gendai.   He says, “We ran a dairy farm from the start, so we could make compost. It enriched the soil and we were able to harvest the best-looking rice. If you use organic fertilizer a lot, you can harvest a large amount of rice but it causes an off taste.  On the other hand, having a high nitrogen content composition can make it grow larger, but makes it weak and easy to contract plant disease. Over-providing it causes diseases or rice being damaged by insects and will need to be reduced a little. For this reason, we use a lot phosphoric acid to help blooming and bearing, and potassium manure, which is necessary for the growth of its roots and producing seeds.” This sensibility is based on their years of experience that allows them to decide on the combination of the compost. Reduced agricultural chemicals would mean that more energy has to be spent on getting rid of harmful insects. But after thinking about the effects on human health, they thought about the choice of rice variety and tried to reduce labor instead of reducing agrochemical usage.   “We, at first, raised two types of rice: Ukon-nishiki (rice generally used for making sake) and Koshihikari for food. But it was hard for us to grow them together, because their harvest times are different. We decided to make our Doburoku with Koshihikari, but it's weak against rice blast disease, so we began to grow another brand, Akitakomachi, which is resistant to diseases. We don’t want to use disinfectant on it if we can help it,” says Suzuyo.   She says that making Doburoku is just like receiving a reward, after comparing how hard it is to be engaged in agriculture. Together with their great passion, each grain of rice can produce a color with a soft hue: milky white.  

古代から続く紅とやわらなか白。
贈りものにも喜ばれる紅白のどぶろく
he ancient red and soft white hue
Bicolored Doburoku as a perfect gift

また「元代」には、白色のどぶろくのほかに、うすい紅色をしたどぶろくもあります。これは材料に古代米を用いていて、全国的にもとても珍しいものですが、どうやら希少価値をねらってつくったものではないようです。斉藤家では、あるとき “健康にいい” という理由で古代米を食していましたが、次第に飽きてしまい、まだ手元に残っていた古代米を使いきるべく、どぶろくの材料にしてみたのが始まりなんだとか。 「古代米を炊くと、赤飯のようにほんのり紅色になったので、食紅などを使わずに、自然に色をつけられるんじゃないかと思って」 と鈴代さん。この予感は見事に的中。何度かつくるうちに、きれいに精米してしまうと赤みが出ないことがわかったので、精米所ではなく、手持ちの機械で自ら精米した玄米を少しだけ混ぜてつくっています。この「どぶろくrose」は、ほんのり癖のある玄米の匂いも影響してか、ワインのような風味で、海外の方にも人気があります。 「紅白そろえられるということで、結婚式などのお祝いごとに「元代」のどぶろくを選んでもらうこともあって、うれしいですね」(鈴代さん)

Gendai has another color except white: light pink. This is brewed from ancient rice and is rare in Japan, but it appears that they didn’t really intend to enhance the value of Doburoku by using the rare rice. The Saito family began to have ancient rice at home as a healthy food at first, but they gradually had enough of it.  The start of making light pink Doburoku was to use up the surplus of the rice. She says, “I thought that I could naturally add red color to Doburoku with the ancient rice because it slightly turned a tinge of red when I cooked it.” That was just as she expected!  After trying it many times, she realized that the red color didn’t turn out right when the rice was deeply polished. She doesn't carry it to the rice-milling plant, but polishes it with her rice-milling machine at home. She mixes it a little with the main rice to make light pink Doburoku. This “Doburoku rose” has a wine taste to it. The slightly peculiar flavor of ancient rice could be a reason for it, and is popular with people from different countries. “We can produce both colors of Gendai. We take red and white as an auspicious color combination in Japan, and some people select them as thank you gifts for celebrations like weddings. It makes us very happy!”  

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女性にこそ飲んでほしい
身体が喜ぶ、生きた酵母の発酵酒
It's the best for women!
The fermented liquor having live yeast makes your body happy

飲みやすく、純粋に身体が求めるおいしさを感じられるどぶろくは、近年、女性の間でも人気があります。酒造メーカーが製造している「清酒」に分類される「にごり酒」と異なるのは、製造課程で、もろみを濾し取っていないこと。材料の固体部分が原酒の中にそのまま残っているので、美肌効果のあるコウジ酸や、慢性疲労を軽減したり体脂肪を落とす効果のある必須アミノ酸などの栄養素が多く含まれ、美容の上でも注目されています。 これこそが、発酵食でもあるどぶろくの魅力。それを表すかのように、鈴代さんのお肌はツヤツヤです。 「実はそんなにお酒は強いほうではなくて、仕込んでいるときに蔵の中で酔っ払うくらい(笑)」 それでもこの効果なのだとすると、生きた酵母の力に驚くほかありません。

Doburoku has been popular among women lately because it is smooth and has its own taste we purely want.  One difference between Doburoku and unfiltered sake categorized as Seishu (refined rice wine), is that Doburoku does not filter out sake mash in the manufacturing process.  The mash remains in the unprocessed sake, which contains a large amount of kojic acid that has an excellent whitening effect, and essential amino acid which is effective for reducing chronic fatigue and body fat. Doburoku has a high beauty effect and attracts women’s attention. That is just the biggest charm of Doburoku! Actually, Suzuyo's skin is bright and smooth. She says, “I really can't drink a lot. Sometimes I get almost drunk when brewing it in the storage!?”   We cannot help being surprised at the power live yeast has.  

夫妻の手間暇がたくさん詰まった
明日の元気の活力酒
That's the energy source for a great tomorrow

「どぶろくをつくって12年になりますが、一時、気分が落ち込んだことがあって、お酒の味がくるってしまったんです。そのときに、あぁ、酵母っていうものは生きとるんやと実感しました。それでこれじゃいかんと思うて、気持ちを入れ替えて作ったら、また、もとの味に戻ってきて。やっぱり楽しくつくるんがいちばんやね」 まるで酵母と一心同体の鈴代さん。どぶろくづくりでは、蒸したお米と麹と水を混ぜたものに酵母を加えて培養した「酒母」が味の決め手となりますが、まさに母の味。一見同じようなおむすびが、にぎる人によって風味が違うように、どぶろくもまた、作り手によって味が違うのが興味深いところ。 「いちばん難しいのは、同じ味を保つこと。調合の具合はもちろん、天気や温度にも左右されますのでね。毎回、味見して、味が変わってなかったときに、あぁ、よかったと思いますね」 ずっと隣で、うんうん頷きながら話を聞いていた元紀さんが指差した色紙には「一樽一樽 一年生」という座右の銘が。お米づくりからはじまり、たくさんの手間暇をかけてつくられる「元代」のどぶろく。ひと口含むとなぜか元気になるのは、栄養面のことだけでなく、手のぬくもりが伝わるからかもしれません。

“We have made Doburoku for 12 years. I had been feeling down for a period of my life. I found that the taste of Doburoku changed, and I wondered if the state of the negative feelings were the cause of it, and I realized again, ‘Yeast is alive!' I felt that I had to change something. I started over with a clean slate and made it again, and it returned to its original state. Anyway, we should enjoy ourselves when making it.”   Suzuyo and yeast, as if they were “two hearts” that beat as one.  The essential part of the process for producing Doburoku is shubo (yeast mash), which is made by culturing yeast made by mixing steamed rice, rice malt and water, with yeast added in it. It's just the taste of mother's home cooking.  As the same cuisine may taste different depending on the cook, the same can be said of producing Doburoku.   “The most difficult thing is keeping the same taste. It depends on the weather and temperature, not to mention the mixing proportion of the ingredients.  I have a taste of it every time, and I'm so relieved when I can make sure it's what I want.” Motonori pointed at a paperboard on the wall as he nodded attentively at what she said. It says their motto, “Back to the beginner's humility for each cask.”  Doburoku “Gendai” starts from rice growing and they spend a good deal of time and effort into it. Once you taste it, it will make you feel great for some reason. That is because it is not only rich in nutrient, but you may also feel the warmth of Suzuyo’s hands.

取材・文/多田千里 写真/永田智恵 翻訳/宮本和加子 協力/押岡洋子
Writer : Chisato Tada Photo : Chie Nagata Translated by Wakako Miyamoto
Special Thanks : Yoko Oshioka

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