Ancient Sake Brewing method – Bodaimoto


The history of Bodaimoto

      “Bodaimoto” is the oldest sake brewing method developed around 600 years ago in Nara, Japan. We know where, when and how it came about as the details are described in an ancient document called Gosyu-no-nikki(御酒之日記)including precise recipe.

     After more sophisticated Kimoto brewing method was developed out of Bodaimoto around 400 years ago, it was gradually forgotten, but with the recent revival trend of natural and low intervention sake making, the excellence and uniqueness of Bodaimoto are rediscovered. I am pleased to find the movement is not only in Japan. World sake fans lately created Facebook group called Sake Brewing Collective and are actively sharing their experiences of making Bodaimoto and questioning each other. I find the discussions truly interesting.

How to brew it

   To make Bodaimoto sake, you only need ordinary kitchen utensils which can be found in any kitchen. No special equipment required. Ingredients are also very simple. Rice, koji and water. That’s it! 

You might think, “How about yeast? Isn’t it yeast which produce alcohol?”. Yes, you are right. And this is the beauty of Bodaimoto. By using only three ingredients in various forms (raw rice, cooked rice and steamed rice) and in special order, you can cultivate lactic acid bacteria which exists in the ingredient and draw yeast from air, then make sake! 

 Sake has been made and enjoyed perhaps at least thousands of years in Japan. But Bodaimoto is the very first systematic approach to make it safely and surely in commercial scale even in the middle of hot and humid summer. The system makes all sense in modern biological point of view. But then Japanese didn’t know anything about it, yet managed to invent this wonderful system utilising the characteristic of each microbes involved efficiently. It is not only the brewing system they invented. Some key technologies for sake making and distributing are also originated from here, which include rice polishing, three-step fermentation and even pasteurisation (400 years ahead of Pasteur’s time!). I think it is truly astonishing!


      I hosted several Bodaimoto making workshops this year since lock-down has started and was amazed by how different the fermentation progresses house by house. This is down to the difference in microbe composition living each household. From this sense, you can say that making Bodaimoto is the collaboration work between you and the unique microbe flora co-dwelling in your house. I will write more about Bodaimoto in future post. Click here for the future workshop schedule.

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