History & Culture

Rebuilding the symbol of liquor store 「Sakabayashi」  再現された酒屋のシンボル酒林(さかばやし)  


 The former Sato Sake Brewery in Kuroishi City was closed in 2008 and is now managed by the NPO “Preservation and Use of Historic Traditional Buildings of the Old Sake Brewery” (Hatsukoma Preservation Society, Chairman Shouji Yoshio). On the 27th of this month, the symbol of the brewery “Sakabayashi” on the eaves was newly created for the first time after 12 years.

酒林(さかばやし)とは、スギの葉(穂先)を集めてボール状にした造形物。杉玉(すぎたま、すぎだま)とも呼ばれる。杉を使うのは、酒の神ともされる奈良県の大神(おおみわ)神社が杉を神木とすることにちなむといわれている。 日本酒の造り酒屋などの軒先に緑の杉玉を吊すことで、新酒が出来たことを知らせる役割を果たしてきた。


 Sakabayashi is a shaped object made by collected cedar leaves tips into a ball shape.
Also called cedar ball. The use of cedar is said to be due to the fact that Omiwa Shrine in Nara Prefecture, which is said to be the god of sake and as a sacred tree. By suspending green cedar balls at eaves such as sake breweries, had become an indication that new sake has been made.

It is said that the time when the green leaves turns brown serve as a time to drink sake.


This time, volunteers from local people and high school students also participated in making Sakabayashi (Sugidama) at the request of the NPO corporation. A sphere is made by piercing a cedar branch into a skeleton mesh core.

仕上げを担当した地元高橋造園の高橋 暎憙(えいき)さんは、「昔は、酒林(さかばやし)(杉玉)づくりは、その酒屋の杜氏さん達が新酒を作り終えて、暇になって作ったものだそうだ。酒林(さかばやし)(杉玉)の中に、お酒を仕込んでおいて、みんなに振舞ったと聞いている。

Mr. Eiki Takahashi from the local Takahashi landscaping, who was in charge of finishing, said, “In the past, Sakabayashi (Sugidama) was made by the brewers who had finished making new sake and I heard that everybody was served the sake that was prepared in Sakabayashi (Sugidama) .
Sakabayashi (Sugidama) that made this time is called a Tokutori type or a Natsume type. A “Sakebayashi (Sugidama) made by a liquor store 2 to 3 years ago was round in shape.”

Tokutori: A type of container with a narrow neck and a bulging bottom. Nowadays it is mainly used for pouring sake.

Natsume: A type of tea utensil used to put matcha tea.


Sakabayashi (Sugidama), which is about 1 meter in length and width and has a total weight of 250 kg, was carried by heavy machinery and hung on the eaves safely.
In the old days, whenever a new sake production is done, a new Sakabayashi (Sugidama) will be made as well.
However, it is difficult now because of the high production cost and the small number of people available to work.

The lush sakabayashi (Sugidama) seems to bring life to the liquor store. The vibrant symbol conveys the joy of the old brewer.





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