MIYAKO-BIJIN

AWAJI - SHIMA

According to ancient Japanese mythology, Japan came into existence with the formation of Awaji Island in Hyōgo Prefecture. It is said that two Japanese Gods named Izanagi and Izanami pulled a pike from the ocean, and the sea water that dripped from it solidified and formed Awaji, the first of the Japanese islands. This legend demonstrates Hyōgo’s considerable contribution to the formation of Japanese culture in ancient times.  Awaji-shima [Awaji Island] is the largest island in the Seto Inland Sea with an area of 593 sq.km and faces Ōsaka Bay on the east, Harima-Nada on the west, Akashi Strait on the north and the Naruto Strait south.  The island is connected with both Honshu and Shikoku by two large suspension bridges. One is Onaruto Bridge which spans Naruto Straits between the southern end of Awaji Island and the other is the Akashi-Kaikyō Bridge.   The Akashi-Kaikyō Bridge opened on 5th April 1998 after ten years of construction and is the world's longest suspension bridge being 3,911 meters long overall with two main towers braced with cables spaced 1,990 meters apart. This bridge, which links Awaji-shima with Kobe, is  also known for its nightly illumination in seven changing colours.  
Miyako-Bijin brewery is located in south Awaji Island and are known for their use of the traditional method Tenbin-Shibori, to create their sake.   Funakake Tenbin-Shibori is where a traditional wooden beam press is used to press the sake.  The bags containing the rice and liquid brew are laid into the wooden trough, wooden boards are then placed over the neatly stacked bags and a large wooden beam press is used to gradually add pressure.  One end of this beam press is attached to the wooden trough by a pillar and the other end acts as a lever when it has large oblong stones, weighing about 450kg in total, hung from it to start the pressing process.  This traditional method is rare to see used nowadays  as it takes around twice as long to press the sake using Tenbin-Shibori rather than a modern mechanical press and the quantity of liquid is also less.  Miyako-Bijin revived this tradition in 2001 though because using Tenbin-Shibori is about focusing on the quality rather than the quantity of the resulting sake.