Hakuko is the primary brand name of the Morikawa family brewery. Of its two characters, one means white, and the second indicates large birds in general. The second character can also combine with that for a plan to make a word (鴻図) indicating great ambitions. Thus the name expresses the inspirational image of a pure white phoenix flying boldly up into the vast skies. The label design portraying this “phoenix” was created in the 1950s, when it would have been considered unconventional. It was reframed to make the current design in the 1990s.
“The sound of the Gion Shōja bells echoes the impermanence of all things; the color of the sāla flowers reveals the truth that the prosperous must decline.” (Translation by Helen McCullough, Stanford University Press.)
These tremendously famous lines are from the “Tale of the Heike”, the epic poem of the 12th Century Genpei War. The Buddha died surrounded by sal (also sometimes called sala or shala) trees. One of each pair is said to have withered in sorrow at his passing, their flowers turning as white as cranes’ wing and falling to cover his deathbed. In the Tale of the Heike, the abrupt way the tree’s flowers change colour is used as a metaphor for the transience and impermanence of all worldly things.
Sake is also a shifting, transient creation. Long known as the “art of temperature”, the outcome of sake brewing depends largely on skillful temperature control during every process. In the days before thermometers, brewing took place literally at the intuitive hands of veteran tōji, registering minute shifts in temperature. Their skills were passed down through the generations.
Unlike other arts such as music and the visual arts, sake cannot be preserved for later generations to enjoy. It is for the very reason that it is destined to be consumed that we strive for immutable excellence, and to create sake that is uniquely and unmistakably ours alone.
The Itsukushima Shrine was built by Taira no Kiyomori as a guardian shrine for his family, the Heike clan. Its red shrine gates are an iconic symbol of Miyajima and Hiroshima as a whole. The product line Sarasouju, with its associations with the Tale of the Heike, expresses our ambition to also be thought of as a symbol of Hiroshima.
The concepts expressed with our two brand names
Here we will explain about the concepts expressed with our two brand names, Hakuko and Sarasouju.
We think of the latter as our “special occasion” brand. We hope people will enjoy these special sakes on high days and holidays, when there is something to celebrate, or on any special day when the mood is particularly upbeat. In contrast, we think of the Hakukoseries as “everyday sake”. We want these to be part of people’s relaxed daily lives, comfortably complementing the family table in the custom expressed in the Japanese word banshaku.
Photographer : Haruhiko KITAI