Sake-zukuri uta

Sake-making song

Any of the songs which used to be sung specifically in sake breweries. When carrying out kai-ire and other brewing tasks, the songs were used for timekeeping in place of clocks, and the foreman would decide the length of time to be spent at each task by fixing the number of verses to be sung. Not only did they have a time-keeping function, the songs also served to lighten the monotony of repetitive tasks.

Although they are no longer sung at work, they are often performed at sake-related festivities or other events.

The following are some of the songs frequently sung by Nada brewers.

  1. Aki-arai Uta (秋洗い唄; Autumn Washing Song).
    This was the only song that each worker could sing at his own pace, while washing the equipment for use at the beginning of the season.
  2. Moto-suri Uta (酛すり唄; also known as Yama-oroshi Uta; Grinding the Moto Song).
    After kimoto yeast starter was mashed, the song was sung during the periodic grinding of the mash.
  3. Moto-kaki Uta (酛掻き唄; Scraping the Moto Song).
    After the task described in 2 was finished, further mixings with kai tools were carried out in the middle of the night (usually about three times, spaced two or three hours apart).
  4. Utai-mono-no-Uta (謡物の唄; Various songs for kai-ire).
    Mixing with kai tools happens at varying stages after shikomi, and the content of the song was matched to the specific task. Utaimono is originally a term from traditional Japanese music.
    (1) Furoagari-mae-Uta (風呂上がり前唄; literally, “Before-bath time Song”).
    Sung when mixing the soe (first stage) mash at around six p.m. on the day of mashing.
    (2) Furoagari-ato-Uta (風呂上がり後唄;literally “After-bath time Song”. Also called Isemairi-Uta (伊勢詣り唄), referring to the practice of making a pilgrimage to the Grand Shrine at Ise).
    Sung when mixing the naka (second stage) mash at around six p.m. on the day of mashing.
    (3) Shimai-Uta (仕舞唄; “Finishing Song”).
    Sung when mixing the tome (third stage) mash at around four p.m. on the day after mashing.
  5. Kome-togi uta (米とぎ唄; “Rice-washing Song”).
    Sung whilst washing rice. Apart from work songs like the above, traditional songs like Ise Ondo (伊勢音頭) would often be sung during occasions of celebration.