I would not be exaggerating if I said there were chickens clucking in the yard with a 4x4 up on blocks, but this isn't the U.S., this is Japan, so instead there was a decrepit k-truck tucked under a tarp and a lithe cat warming itself in the sun. There was no activity, though I spied a middle aged man through a 2nd floor window of the old home. He quickly turned and disappeared from sight.
The entire reason for this trip was to come learn how to make shochu. Tekkan-san, toji of Yamato Zakura Shuzo in Ichiki, Kagoshima Prefecture, was kind enough to allow me to come work under his instruction. I'd met him thanks to Komasa-san, president of Komasa Shuzo, one of the largest distilleries in Kagoshima.
The name Akamaoh, or Red Devil, coupled with the black label over black bottle would suggest a full bodied sweet potato shochu that would give you the deep funk that Japanese often refer to as "imo kusai" (smelly sweet potatoes). However, Akamaoh, may have a devilish name for a completely different reason. It's so easy drinking, it's dangerous in a "devil made me do it way."
Jidai Kurahachi, with its lovely rice paper label, is an uncompromising rice shochu, foregoing the smooth light taste that many kome shochu strive for while attempting to deliver a robust, rich taste using black koji and clay pot aging. It was worth the effort.