Marketing Sake: The Visual Element

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In last week’s entry we discussed the marketing of sake. We continue with that theme this week, focusing on the importance of the visual. “The consumption of craft products is currently flourishing….This study deals with consumers’ preferences in a context where...globalization is threatening traditional handicrafts. To analyze the attribute preferences of consumers [we examined]...three highly … Continue reading Marketing Sake: The Visual Element

Marketing Sake to Age-of-Majority Japanese Youth: A Consultation with the AI Era’s Delphic Oracle

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Consulting the Oracle, John William Waterhouse Towards the end of last year we wrote the following in a private correspondence. Being passionate about sake is also linked to a concern about the future prosperity of Japan and the survival of things Japanese. This is especially important today given the devastating effect that globalization has had … Continue reading Marketing Sake to Age-of-Majority Japanese Youth: A Consultation with the AI Era’s Delphic Oracle

Tone Nishiki Shiboritate Nama Genshu (利根錦 しぼりたて生原酒): Of Glassware, Sake Label Art, and Roaring Mice

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It is not often that we just happen to find a sake bottle with label art that perfectly matches our glassware, but that is what happened when we stumbled upon—no that’s not appropriate here—ran into—no that won’t do, either—encountered—yeah, yeah, that’s it—this Gunma-ken nigorizake which, according to one of our sources, is from the smallest … Continue reading Tone Nishiki Shiboritate Nama Genshu (利根錦 しぼりたて生原酒): Of Glassware, Sake Label Art, and Roaring Mice

Kikunotsukasa Shuzo (菊の司酒造): Innocent 40

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Not too long ago we were in Iwate Prefecture, where we missed this gem. Fortunately, we picked up a bottle of Kikunotsukasa’s Innocent 40, “a non-filtered, non-pasteurized, non-hydrated,” high-end daiginjo sake, with 14% abv. Forty refers to the rice polishing rate or seimaibuai (精米歩合). Contributing to the Iwate influence, terroir, if you will, are Yui … Continue reading Kikunotsukasa Shuzo (菊の司酒造): Innocent 40

Significant Encounters at Expat Expo Part 2: The Story of Sake, Ltd.

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As mentioned in last week’s posting, Expat Expo was held on November 25-26, 2022, at Hamamatsucho-kan, Minato Ward, Tokyo. Our second significant encounter thereat was with Mr. Yuki Ojima, a Japanese fluent in English who runs a business that we believe is poised to meet what will probably become a growing demand. Simply put, there … Continue reading Significant Encounters at Expat Expo Part 2: The Story of Sake, Ltd.

Significant Encounters at Expat Expo Tokyo 2022 Part 1: Asahi-Shuzo (朝日酒造), Makers of Kubota

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Expat Expo was held on November 25-26, 2022, at Hamamatsucho-kan, Minato Ward, Tokyo. It, along with the concomitant International Job Fair, attracted 2,917 people and featured 182 exhibitors. We attended last year’s Expo and based on our experience in 2021 decided to return this year. Needless to say, which of course is needless to say, … Continue reading Significant Encounters at Expat Expo Tokyo 2022 Part 1: Asahi-Shuzo (朝日酒造), Makers of Kubota

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Kurako (蔵子): A Sake Purchased in Aomori’s Main Market

On the spur of the moment we bought this nihon-shu at the main market in Aomori City. The market should be a stop on any tourist’s list of things to do there. In addition to fish and other foodstuffs for sale, there are a couple of restaurants of note. We enjoyed a delicious and very … Continue reading Kurako (蔵子): A Sake Purchased in Aomori’s Main Market

Sannohe-no-Donberi (三戸のドンベリ)

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Winter When icicles hang by the wall   And Dick the shepherd blows his nailAnd Tom bears logs into the hall   And milk comes frozen home in pail,When blood is nipp'd and ways be foul,Then nightly sings the staring owl,                        Tu-whit;Tu-who, a merry note,While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.When all aloud the wind doth blow   And coughing drowns the … Continue reading Sannohe-no-Donberi (三戸のドンベリ)

The Asia University Hop Project (AUHP) Comes to Fruition: Behold, The Beer–Asia Beer

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There were times when certain university students invested their energies in questionable pursuits. In the somewhat distant past, for example, there were some who felt compelled to swallow goldfish. In the first half of the twentieth century the situation got so bad at Temple University that “Fraternities stationed volunteers near the fish tank in the … Continue reading The Asia University Hop Project (AUHP) Comes to Fruition: Behold, The Beer–Asia Beer

Hachinohe Shuzo Co., Ltd.’s V1116: “I Wanna Reach Out and Grab Ya”

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Exhibit at the Nebuta Museum, Hachinohe Hachinohe is a city in Aomori Prefecture, northern Honshu. As Steve Miller would probably put it, there are a couple of things there that one might want to reach out and grab, after making payment, of course. One is a visit to the Nebuta Museum, which is conveniently located … Continue reading Hachinohe Shuzo Co., Ltd.’s V1116: “I Wanna Reach Out and Grab Ya”

A Sake Named “Kaminari Sandai” (Thunder the Third) @ ¥100: A Down-to-Basics Beverage for Curbside Kiplings

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Kaminari It is interesting how alcoholic beverages of a certain caliber have very distinct and even poetic names, apparently irrespective of the country of origin. Consider, if you will, the American wino wine MD20/20. The “MD” does not, of course, stand for “Medical Doctors,” who are unlikely to recommend it, let alone savor its less-than-subtle … Continue reading A Sake Named “Kaminari Sandai” (Thunder the Third) @ ¥100: A Down-to-Basics Beverage for Curbside Kiplings

Eel-and-Beverage Pairings

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fooduniversity.org This is the fifth entry in our series on eels. Here we briefly consider two beverages that are thought to go well with Unagi no Kabayaki—nihon-shu and beer. There are some rules,…or guidelines,…or, wait a minute,...perhaps the best word to use here is suggestions as to what drinks complement which foods. A common assumption … Continue reading Eel-and-Beverage Pairings

By-Product and Must-Buy-Product

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fooduniversity.org The Frog and the Eel, Haiku Meets Haute Cuisine This is the fourth installment of our series on eel. Unagipie A successful by-product of the eel business in Hamamatsu is unagipie. This is a cookie-like confection that has become a must-buy-product for many visitors to the city. It is made by Shunkado, which was … Continue reading By-Product and Must-Buy-Product

Hamamatsu and His Highness the Eel: Geography

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fooduniversity.org As we saw in the first installment of this series, in Japan eel is almost exclusively prepared in the Kabayaki style and is closely associated with summer. Geographically speaking, it has very strong links to Hamamatsu, a city in Shizuoka Prefecture. From a gastronomic perspective, there is much that can be said about the … Continue reading Hamamatsu and His Highness the Eel: Geography

Eel Elision Is a Bad Decision: Introduction

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fooduniversity.org Over the next few weeks Drinking Japan will be running a series on eels.  We have much to say about this subject and feel that putting it all in one blog entry may be too much to digest in the heat of the summer and early autumn. Summer heat, of course, is one reason … Continue reading Eel Elision Is a Bad Decision: Introduction

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Asia University Beer: Hops Harvesting

The Cones Asia University is a medium-sized tertiary institution located in western Tokyo. It is about thirty minutes from Shinjuku Station via the Chuo Line. There are many noteworthy things about this school, and soon there will be another—Asia University Beer. Drinking Japan is involved in this project and will be uploading another entry when … Continue reading Asia University Beer: Hops Harvesting

Perhaps Two of the World’s Most Popular Distillery Tours: Suntory’s Hakushu & Yamazaki Distilleries

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In early 2020 we had reserved a Hakushu Distillery tour. As we remember all too well, that was the year the world changed. In Japan, we entered a state of emergency - people were urged to stay home; restaurants were forced to close early and stop serving alcohol; traveling across borders was discouraged; and many … Continue reading Perhaps Two of the World’s Most Popular Distillery Tours: Suntory’s Hakushu & Yamazaki Distilleries

Mikan Wine: A Summer Thing

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At this time of year—summer’s epicenter, so to speak—most people prefer to keep thing’s light and uncomplicated, opting for such intellectually unchallenging fare as Sharktopus (2010)—no, it’s not about a certain American financial-services company, though it could be—or chilling out with musical mundanities like Percy Faith’s rendition of “A Summer Place.” Personally, this writer prefers … Continue reading Mikan Wine: A Summer Thing

Of Cranes, Swans, and Fortuna

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This is the fifth installment in our JFEX2022 series. This week we feature a product from Izumi Syuzou Co., Ltd. (出水酒造株式会社] — Fortuna shochu. THE WILD SWANS AT COOLE … Unwearied still, lover by lover, They paddle in the cold, Companionable streams or climb the air; Their hearts have not grown old; Passion or conquest, wander … Continue reading Of Cranes, Swans, and Fortuna

Oishi Shuzo Distillery’s (大石酒造) Kashi (樫): Small Is Beautiful and Wood Is Wonderful

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This is the fourth installment in our JFEX2022 series. This week we feature a shochu from a distillery in Akune City, Kagoshima—Oishi Shuzo Distillery (大石酒造). Some of our readers may be familiar with The New York Times bestseller Small Is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered1; others may have delved into The Breakdown of Nations2 … Continue reading Oishi Shuzo Distillery’s (大石酒造) Kashi (樫): Small Is Beautiful and Wood Is Wonderful

Kagatsuru Kaga Tea Sake (加賀鶴: 加賀紅茶の酒): Terrific

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This is the third installment in our JFEX2022 series. This week we feature a product from Yachiya Shuzo, an award-winning kura in Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture. We will confine our comments to only one of their outstanding products—their unique Tea Sake. We encourage our readers to explore their other offerings, as well. Twinkle, twinkle, little bat!How … Continue reading Kagatsuru Kaga Tea Sake (加賀鶴: 加賀紅茶の酒): Terrific

Lovevados Apple Brandy: Yes, We Would Love a Dose!

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This is the second installment in our JFEX2022 series. The exhibition was held at Tokyo Big Sight in June. The event featured 452 exhibitors and attracted 18,848 industry buyers. This week we focus on an apple brandy called “Lovevados.” The Japanese are rather fond of portmanteau words (e.g., spoon + fork = spork). Lovevados has … Continue reading Lovevados Apple Brandy: Yes, We Would Love a Dose!

Beverages in Sketches: NOT Sketchy Beverages

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Recently we found ourselves ensconced at a popular resort--Hoshino Resorts Risonare Yatsugatake--that featured a number of local wines encased in one of those coin-operated tasting contraptions. We dutifully fed our shekels into the machine’s many maws and received a few drops of wine in return, barely enough for a full analysis, but we persevered. Below … Continue reading Beverages in Sketches: NOT Sketchy Beverages

Macho (マッチョ): A Good Name for a Good Drink

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Oosakazuki Macho Yamada Nishiki 80 (大盃マッチョ 山田錦 80) from Makino Shuzo (牧野酒造) Nectar, n. A drink served at banquets of the Olympian deities. The secret of its preparation is lost, but the modern Kentuckians believe that they come pretty near to a knowledge of its chief ingredient. –The Devil’s Dictionary, Ambrose Bierce In the above definition … Continue reading Macho (マッチョ): A Good Name for a Good Drink

Kinryo Sanuki Olive Yeast(金陵 オリーブ酵母 純米吟醸)

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When you think olives, you might picture the Mediterranean - Italy, Greece or Spain. But lo and behold, there is also a part of Japan that is well known for olives - Kagawa Prefecture, which is located on Shikoku, Japan's fourth major island. Olive yeast was co-discovered by the Kagawa Prefectural Sake Brewer’s Association and … Continue reading Kinryo Sanuki Olive Yeast(金陵 オリーブ酵母 純米吟醸)

Sekizen Junmai Ginjo Sakura-no-hana-kobo (積善 純米吟醸 桜の花酵母)

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The cherry blossom season has come and gone. We have already enjoyed the perfect sake (at least visually) for the season, the one that uses a special red yeast or sekishokukobo (赤色酵母). Please see here for more details. There is another sake that is closely associated with cherry blossoms, i.e., sake made with sakura flower … Continue reading Sekizen Junmai Ginjo Sakura-no-hana-kobo (積善 純米吟醸 桜の花酵母)

A refreshing summer beverage: Awa-no-Kaori Sudachi-chu (阿波の香り すだち酎)

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In a previous post we discussed the two main types of shochu--korui shochu (甲類焼酎) and otsurui shochu (乙類焼酎). In addition to these varieties, there is also Okinawan Awamori (泡盛), which is a topic for another post. This week we would like to focus on a product from Tokushima Prefecture called Awa-no-Kaori Sudachi-chu (阿波の香り すだち酎. Like … Continue reading A refreshing summer beverage: Awa-no-Kaori Sudachi-chu (阿波の香り すだち酎)

“The Other Day I Met a Bear”: 59 Takachiyo Mori-no-kumasan (たかちよ 森のくまさん)

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During the Golden Week holiday, which is a week-long hiatus from the daily grind in Japan and runs from late April to early May, we went hiking on Mt. Mitake. Mt. Mitake is a medium-sized mountain with beautiful trails and is only two hours from central Tokyo. For our picnic at the top of the … Continue reading “The Other Day I Met a Bear”: 59 Takachiyo Mori-no-kumasan (たかちよ 森のくまさん)

Noguchi Naohiko Sake Institute Junmai Muroka Namagenshu 2020 Vintage (純米無濾過生原酒)

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Who is Noguchi Naohiko, and why is the brewery called a kenkyujyo (研究所), which means "laboratory" or "institute"? Noguchi Naohiko is a toji, or master sake brewer, from the noto (能登) school. Noto toji is a school of sake-making that originated on the Noto Peninsula in Ishikawa Prefecture, one of many schools of toji that … Continue reading Noguchi Naohiko Sake Institute Junmai Muroka Namagenshu 2020 Vintage (純米無濾過生原酒)

“Chestnuts roasting on an open fire”: Dabada Hiburi (ダバダ火振) Chestnut Shochu

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We at drinkingjapan.org fully understand that chestnuts are not a symbol of spring and that it would be seasonally inappropriate to sing this song in April. However, we are passionate about chestnuts and would like to take this opportunity to introduce a wonderful and somewhat rare type of shochu made with the Japanese chestnut, kuri … Continue reading “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire”: Dabada Hiburi (ダバダ火振) Chestnut Shochu

Perfect for Breakfast? Yogurt Liqueur from Asama Farm (浅間のヨーグルト酒)

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Moo-ve over, eggnog: there’s a new milk-based alcoholic beverage in town! Kusatsu onsen is considered one of Japan’s top three hot springs. Even if you have never visited this place, you have likely seen images like this: Yubatake Or this: Netsunoyu When driving to Kusatsu from Tokyo, you can drive past the Asamashuzo Tourism Center … Continue reading Perfect for Breakfast? Yogurt Liqueur from Asama Farm (浅間のヨーグルト酒)

Tickled Pink: Atagonomatsu Harukoi Junmai Ginjo (あたごのまつ はるこい 純米吟醸)

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As winter fades into spring, one can enjoy the various expressions of the color pink, starting with plum blossoms, which are often darker, and later cherry blossoms, or sakura. As sakura blossoms are in bloom for a very short time, they are a symbol of mortality and rebirth--the ephemeral nature of existence given a positive … Continue reading Tickled Pink: Atagonomatsu Harukoi Junmai Ginjo (あたごのまつ はるこい 純米吟醸)

Wakaze, a Very French Sake

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French sake might have been an oxymoron in the recent past, but for those familiar with the concept of terroir, the two words (i.e., “French” and “sake”) constitute a harmonious whole. Terroir is that wonderful term for the influence that local conditions have on a wine. Wiktionary defines it thus: “The complete set of local … Continue reading Wakaze, a Very French Sake

Bijofu Uchushinkaishu Junmai Ginjo (美丈夫 宇宙深海酒 純米吟醸): It Went Up and It Went Down and Should Be Drunk All Around

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Davy Jones' Locker, John Tenniel This week we soar into the firmament and then plunge into the deep to snatch this drink from Davy Jones’s Locker, but first a little history. In the heady days that were 1969 one of us was in a rather famous bar in a large city on the night of … Continue reading Bijofu Uchushinkaishu Junmai Ginjo (美丈夫 宇宙深海酒 純米吟醸): It Went Up and It Went Down and Should Be Drunk All Around

Nishibori Shuzo:

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19th-Century Kura, 21st-Century Innovation On a fine winter morning we caught a train to Oyama City, Tochigi Prefecture. A meandering city bus took us from the train station to our destination, Nishibori Shuzo, and to our appointment with Tetsuya Nishibori, the Sixth Generation Kuramoto (brewery owner). Only a short hour and a half from Shinjuku … Continue reading Nishibori Shuzo:

Oosakazuki Oke 53 Gou (大盃 桶53号) Number 53: Fill In the Other Eye

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Takasaki is a city in Gunma Prefecture. It is famous for being the birthplace of the Daruma doll. For those unfamiliar with this interesting, Humpty-Dumptyesque object that never falls and the custom surrounding its use, we have included a picture above and will provide a brief explanation. Distilled down to its very essence, the Daruma … Continue reading Oosakazuki Oke 53 Gou (大盃 桶53号) Number 53: Fill In the Other Eye

Fujizakura Heights (富士桜高原麦酒 ラオホ) Rauch: Smoke Gets in Your Nose

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We were reminded recently of that old song “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” (1933). Yes, it is a bit of an irritant when it creeps into your peepers, but when it meanders up your nose, as it does with this beer, it is not unappealing. This drink has an almost peaty aroma, which is not … Continue reading Fujizakura Heights (富士桜高原麦酒 ラオホ) Rauch: Smoke Gets in Your Nose

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Yamaso Hop from Minamishinshu Beer (Komagatake Brewery): A Pleasant Pastiche

The third definition of the word pastiche as given by Wiktionary is “an incongruous mixture; a hodgepodge.” Hodgepodge has negative connotations for most speakers of English, as it conjurers up images of motion-picture monstrosities such as Sharktopus (2010) and culinary crimes al la kitchen-sink succotash. But wait…the word can also refer to the sublime syllabub … Continue reading Yamaso Hop from Minamishinshu Beer (Komagatake Brewery): A Pleasant Pastiche

Valentine’s Day Special: Cupid, Draw Back Your Bow and Let the Chocolate Flow

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Creator: George Cruikshank (creator); Date: n.d.; Material: etching “…Aphrodite (Venus)…was…playing with her little boy Eros (Cupid). He is one of the children in mythology who never grows up [sounds like at least one of us here at drinkingjapan.org] and never grows any wiser [here she must be talking about your average politician]. He carries about … Continue reading Valentine’s Day Special: Cupid, Draw Back Your Bow and Let the Chocolate Flow

Fukagawa Winery’s TOKYO 2021 Orange Sparkling: The Color or the Fruit?

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Fukagawa Winery’s TOKYO 2021 Orange Sparkling Ah, orange, that’s an interesting word. It can refer to that narcissistic color that demands attention in nearly any setting in which it is encountered or to the fruit produced in such sunny climes as Florida or Valencia. The English language did not start to employ it in its … Continue reading Fukagawa Winery’s TOKYO 2021 Orange Sparkling: The Color or the Fruit?