One of the more enjoyable, andunexpected, things about becoming a father has been making new friends with other novice parents. Under different circumstances, I doubt I could have ever hit it off with someone like my wife’s best friend’s husband. The two of us have very little in common. More than ten years my junior and employed by a semi-government agency involved in public works, he is not, what you would call, the wildest and craziest of guys. And, while his is a world dominated by asphalt and concrete; mine is one of airy words and nebulous ideas.
What we do share, however, in addition to a love for our sons, of course, is a taste for shōchū. And that really is enough, isn’t it?
Why is it that the older you get the harder it is to make friends? When you were young all it took was living on the same cul-de-sac or sitting in adjacent desks in a classroom. We guys can become so goddamn stuffy as we age.
Anyways, our two families have made it a habit of getting together every three months or so to compare our sons’ growth (Their son is a mere two weeks older than our own). And every time we meet, we exchange a bottle or two of shōchūand picture books.
The other day when they visited, Masato brought a bottle of Hinata Yama shōchū. Made with beni Satsuma imo(locally grown red sweet potatoes, pronounced “sa-tsoo-MY-mo”), Hinata Yamais more fragrant than your average imo shōchū, yet doesn’t punch you in the nose the way, say, a yaki imojōchū(i.e. shōchūmade from baked or roasted sweet potatoes) can.As for the best way to enjoy Hinata Yama, well, I’m afraid I drank the whole bottle on the rocks before getting around to trying it with water or hot water.Hic!
 Note that imo shōchū is actually pronounced imo jōchū with a “j”, as is koméjōchū, etc.
Produced by Hinatayama Jōzō located in Hayato Town, Aira District, Kagoshima Prefecture. Aira District or Gun (姶良郡), located just north of Kagoshima City, was formally known as Shira Gun (始羅郡) until the Meiji Period.
Made with Kagoshima Beni (red) Satsuma sweet potatoes. Interestingly enough, sweet potatoes are not called “Satsuma potatoes” in Satsuma (i.e. Kagoshima), but karaimono.
Just last week, I bumped into Masato on the train. I hadn’t seen him since my wife was pregnant with our second son. It would be nice if we could all get together again and clink glasses.