Sake-flavored sponge cake unveiled as part of regional revitalizing project

A ceremony was held on Aug. 17 to celebrate the completion of a brand-new “kasutera” (castella) sponge cake having the flavor of sake brewed in the Fukushima Prefecture town of Aizubange from a combination of rice grains harvested in all of Japan’s 47 prefectures. The event was conducted at confectionery maker Chidori Kasutera Hompo in Unzen city, Nagasaki Prefecture, southwestern Japan, as part of the “2019 Good Job-Creating Fair” undertaken jointly by credit associations, known as shinkin banks, from across Japan to help revitalize regional economic activity. About 20 ceremony participants, including officials from a sake brewer and shinkin banks in Fukushima, celebrated the birth of the specialty cake developed in the hope of invigorating Japan. “The kasutera is to be sold across the country,” Tetsuya Tsukamoto, president of Tachibana Shinkin Bank based in Isahaya city neighboring Unzen, told the gathering. “We would like to treasure ties among shinkin banks and ties with the Aizu region (of Fukushima). We wish for early reconstruction of disaster-affected areas,” he added, referring to the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and ensuing nuclear accident that hit Fukushima and other parts of northeastern Japan. Kyoji Kawamoto, president of Tokyo-based Johnan Shinkin Bank which is acting as the secretariat of the fair’s executive committee, called for closer cooperation among shinkin banks for regional revitalization. Two types of kasutera were presented. One contains a mixture of “Kizuna-mai Reiwa” brand sake, a type of brew known as “junmai daiginjo” (sake made from extremely polished rice without brewing alcohol added), and sake lees. Used in brewing the special sake was rice from 123 rice-producing areas across Japan, including seven in Fukushima. The other type is based on rice flour in place of wheat flour, made from the rice used to brew Kizuna-mai Reiwa sake (the name consists of the word “kizuna” meaning bonds, “mai” meaning dance and Reiwa, the new Japanese imperial era name). The sake-savored cake features an elegant finish with a slight sake flavor amid lush sweetness. A rectangular 6-kilogram piece of sake-flavored cake, branded with two Japanese characters reading “Kizuna-mai,” was shown to the audience by Koichi Suzuki, president of Aizubange-based Akebono Shuzo which brewed the special type of sake, and Naoki Yamashita, president of Chidori, drawing applause from the crowd. “Tasty kasutera has been brought into shape,” Suzuki said. “We would like all people across Japan to enjoy it together with Kizuna-mai Reiwa.” The volume of production and prices of both types of kasutera will be fixed soon for sale at the “Good Job-Creating Fair” to be held on Oct. 7-8 at the Tokyo International Forum in the Chiyoda district of the Japanese capital. The fair is to be sponsored by the executive committee comprising 229 shinkin banks across Japan, including eight in Fukushima. 【Photo】 Suzuki (right) and Yamashita unveil sake-flavored sponge cake. (Translated by Kyodo News)