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Temple in west Japan's Nara Pref. launches special gin product to honor ancient diviner

Naoki Itatoko, left, head of Yucho Shuzo Co.'s Yamato Distillery, and Yuou Ueda, deputy chief priest of Abe-Monjuin Temple, are seen holding Kikka Gin Seimei craft gin products at Abe-Monjuin Temple in Sakurai, Nara Prefecture, on Oct. 8, 2021. (Mainichi/Akiko Hirose)

SAKURAI, Nara -- A temple in west Japan's Nara Prefecture, which is said to be connected with Abe no Seimei, a legendary yin-yang diviner from the Heian Period (794-1185), has released an original craft gin to celebrate the 1,100th anniversary of the diviner's birth.

    Abe-Monjuin Temple, located in the city of Sakurai, Nara Prefecture, commenced sales of its Kikka Gin Seimei product on Oct. 8, pricing it at 7,000 yen (about $62) for a 700-milliliter bottle. The product is the temple's second endeavor to pay homage to Seimei, following its summer launch of special somen noodles.

    Kikka Gin Seimei craft gin products created to celebrate the 1,100th anniversary of the birth of legendary divination specialist Abe no Seimei are seen at Abe-Monjuin Temple in Sakurai, Nara Prefecture, on Oct. 8, 2021. (Mainichi/Akiko Hirose)

    Kikka Gin Seimei is manufactured by Yucho Shuzo Co.'s Yamato Distillery, based in the prefectural city of Gose, which has been handling craft gin for three years. As Seimei is thought to have been an expert in astronomy, the finishing distillations were carried out on Sept. 21, the day of the harvest moon.

    In addition to the basic ingredients of Yamato tachibana oranges and Yamato toki herbs produced in Nara Prefecture, the gin consists of red perilla cultivated at the temple -- said to serve as a talisman to ward off evil -- as well as locally produced matcha. Customers can enjoy a refreshing citrus aroma followed by the bitterness of matcha, and Yamato Distillery head Naoki Itatoko, 33, recommends drinking it either on the rocks or diluted with water.

    The product's package is adorned with a five-pointed star design. Though sales will be limited to 1,000 bottles, the distillery said it will continue making the product every year. It will also be served in a restaurant inside The Kashihara, a hotel also located in the Nara prefectural city of the same name.

    For more inquiries, please call the temple at: 0744-43-0002 (in Japanese).

    (Japanese original by Akiko Hirose, Sakurai Local Bureau)

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