Monday, April 19, 2010

Gumyo-ji Temple Sakura Beer

Thanks to Yokohama's oldest surviving place of worship, Gumyo-ji Temple (みょうじ) - which was apparently built a millennium ago - comes one of those joys you stumble across anew even after almost a decade in Japan.

In this case that joy is something that combines two of my favourite interests: beer and sakura (cherry blossoms).

Sakura Beer is a specialty of Gumyo-ji, one I had no idea about until today when my student Toshie - a Yokohama native - presented me with a bottle of the stuff wrapped in Disney character face-cloths (Pluto and Donald, luckily, rather than Mickey).

According to the label, it was brewed using yeast sourced from cherry blossoms grown in the temple's own grounds, and the bottle needs to be gently rolled rather than shaken prior to opening - which I figure is the case with most beers anyway; common sense is international after all.

While this brew is the day's undoubted treasure, the temple itself is also a treat.

It was established by the Shingon sect (supposedly by a priest named Gyoki) somewhere between the 8th century and the 11th and is dedicated to the Goddess of Mercy, the Eleven-Headed Kannon... a fairly formidable 1.8-meter tall carving that also dates back to around 1,000 years.

Now for that beer.

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