Delegates from Hanamaki, Japan, were treated with a taste of home during their annual visit to Hot Springs last week, touring the new Origami Sake facility, 2360 E. Grand Ave., complete with a sampling of the products made there.
“It’s a beautiful facility,” said Kohei Kashiwaba, a longtime participant in the Sister City program.
He says he’s never been to the plant that opened earlier this year, but that he really enjoyed it. Arriving Friday morning, the group of 18 stayed through the weekend and left early Monday morning in celebration of 30 years of the Hot Springs Sister City program.
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The tour was conducted in both English and Japanese by the vice president of the company, Ben Bell and Justin Potts, director of brewery relations. Lasting less than an hour, the tour gave an inside look at the process and methods used by Origami Sake. Everything from where the ingredients are sourced to how they are prepared was shared with the guests, some of whom were familiar with the process of sake-making.
Bell explained to the crowd how the company uses a hot “shubo,” or a small starter batch of sake for fermentation, as compared to a traditional cold shubo. He also showed their Italian-made bottling machine and said that the machine cannot be operated at full speed unless more automation equipment is bought because it runs too fast for the workers to keep up with. Origami’s current bottles are the same size as wine bottles the machine was made to handle.
But some of the crowd was already familiar with the process of making sake and with Bell.
“Many of the delegation visitors personally helped me during my two years in Japan,” he said. “And they finally were able to see the result of that support in the form of Origami Sake here in Hot Springs.”
Those in attendance were also informed about future plans of the company including the introduction of a draft line of their Thousand Cranes sake as well as a line of cans by the end of the year to be available in both singles and four-packs.