I was in Japan a while back, and when I wasn’t annoying my travel buddy and oldest friend searching for good Japanese whisky (ping Hibiki), I was annoying my travel buddy and oldest friend searching for a Japanese edition of Gravity’s Rainbow. Priorities are important. Occasions also did arise when I annoyed no one, and on these occasions we often drank sake. I will here present spoils from two of the three above missions/passtimes. If you want the whisky, come knock on my door on Pynchon in Public day and we’ll take it to the park.
Sometimes the sake came served in bits of bamboo trunk. Sometimes it came in cups that overflowed into little boxes that themselves when allowing for the volume displaced by the cup held the volume of the cup again. Sometimes we drank it wearing yukatas, fetching summer kimonos. Sometimes we drank it because the cute girls at the next table were too. Sometimes we paired it with sashimi, sometimes raw pheasant, sometimes yakotori skewers. Always it was tasty.
I only found my fancy shiny two-volume Japanese Gravity’s Rainbow in the last days of the trip, so I didn’t get to shove it in front of any sake for a photo over there. Which has proved an excellent opportunity to get into some more back home now. This one’s the Yoshinogawa Gensen Karakuchi. I will admit that I struggle to tell different sakes apart much. Milky mouthfeel, lightly floral, grassy base, almost sappy. Some apricots in there too, a little lemon. Mellow, very pleasant, very drinkable. Describes this one as well as anything I had in Japan.
The only one I can remember departing much from this lovely template was a sweeter option that the aforementioned pair of cute table neighbours were drinking and kindly let us sample. It was a totally opaque white, really thick, glutinous and sweet, like a liquid bean cake desert. I returned swiftly to the dry stuff.
And look okay, I’ve just double-checked the list and the sake in GR is actually homebrewed sake that the Komical Kamikazes brew up on their island, which will probably have to wait for another time when I can come by a koji culture and a bunch of rice and so on. And so I should perhaps have brought home the Japanese Vineland instead, which does appear to feature some just normal honest legal professionally-made commercial sake, but Japanese Vineland just didn’t seem as magical an object as Japanese Gravity’s Rainbow, so just please forgive the inappropriate volumes depicted in these images okay.
That Vineland passage is as follows:
Inside, he found the place all but vacated, little evidence of any night’s business, no fumes of sake, no screened clatter of gaming tiles, or feminine crossings and glimpses…Vineland, p. 150.
And so in fact we have an absence of sake, which I have here replaced with an absence of the right book, and look let’s just drop it. Sake is nice.