The Chemistry of Sake-Brewing. R. W. Atkinson, Robert Wilson.
The Chemistry of Sake-Brewing
The Chemistry of Sake-Brewing
The Chemistry of Sake-Brewing

First English-Language Monograph on Saké

The Chemistry of Sake-Brewing

Notes: The first book on saké published in the West and one of the earliest English descriptions of the distillation of shochu. Atkinson, a professor at Tokyo University, was "one of the first three Westerners to study and understand koji [the enzyme used to ferment saké] in depth."—Shurtleff and Aoyagi, History of Koji.

Following two short papers on saké, Atkinson expanded his research in this, the first monograph on saké in a Western language. The first section is devoted to koji, the fungus used to induce fermentation in saké. Following the recent innovations of Louis Pasteur, Atkinson explores the microorganism at work during saké brewing and illustrates them with many plates, based on studies conducted each day during the brewing process. The second section describes and illustrates sake brewing, with chemical analysis of the components at various stages in the process. The final pages of the book document how the residue from saké brewing is distilled into shochu, another traditional Japanese spirit. The distilling apparatus is illustrated with a woodcut engraving.

Atkinson's "discussion of koji and its preparation, of its active properties and its action upon cane sugar and maltose, is much more detailed and knowledgeable than before. This is the earliest English-language document seen that describes how to make koji on a commercial scale. He notes that in Tokyo, koji is made in long tunnels cut into the clay, 25–30 feet long and 15–20 feet below ground level. He uses the word 'ferment' to refer to what would soon be called an enzyme.'"—Shurtleff and Aoyagi.

Published as Memoirs of the Science Department, Tokio Daigaku (University of Tokio), no. 6. viii, 73 pages plus 19 plates and a frontispiece. 8 by 11 inches. Uncommon and significant

Edition + Condition: First edition (first printing). A very good copy, with light chipping to the covers; ownership signature at the top of the front cover dated 1882.

Publication: Tokio (Tokyo): Tokio Daigaku, 1881.

Item No: #360742


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