Tokyo Jizake Strolling (operating a sake shop for 6 years)

By Ryuji Takahashi
Sake shop Ji Sakeya opened in the neighboring town of Hatsudai in the Shinjuku ward of Tokyo six years ago. Our sake shop is still surviving while many businesses closed their doors due to the coronavirus pandemic. We owe many thanks to our restaurant clients continuing to place orders despite the difficult economic circumstances, many regular customers who continue to check in, and sake breweries. When we first opened, we had few businesses with restaurants and customers, leaving many including myself wondering if we’d survive the first year in business, and how long we would last afterwards.
During the initial hard times, sake breweries helped us out with over-the-counter sales, posting, and introduced restaurants they received inquires from, while our regular customers referred us to restaurants they frequented, which gradually increased our business. Customers started to come in from these restaurants, which helped us establish our footing as the town sake shop. Eventually, we received requests to hold seminars and consultations to revitalize business for sake breweries, which helped to expand our business outside of selling sake.
However, our business is still not stable, which is likely true for all sake shops. Before our sake shop opened, I once attended a seminar held by a sake shop. The lecturer was the owner of a renowned sake shop, who commented at the end of the seminar, “I’m speaking in front of you today, but I don’t know what will happen to our shop by next year. The sake industry is facing difficult times. We’re always thinking of ways to survive,” which left a lasting impression.
I realized then there was no easy way to sell sake, feeling uneasy about opening my sake shop.
I’m not a son of a sake shop owner, but a complete novice to the industry. Maybe that’s what helped me step forth to open my sake shop. What if I had directly felt the difficulties the liquor industry was facing at the time? The first three years in the business was hell on earth, working non-stop from morning to night. As business started to get easier in the fourth year was when the coronavirus outbreak happened.
However, our above clientele we built gradually over time was what saved us. I’m truly grateful to each of them is all I can say. I received help not only from the sake industry, but also from other industries like the Italian restaurant industry. Six years since we opened our sake shop, we’re still a beginner in this industry. I’d like to be prepared to welcome many customers and restaurant clients back as soon as the coronavirus pandemic is finally over, which will impact our business with sake breweries as well. The first step in the sake shop industry is to purchase many sake products from our sake breweries. By the time spring comes when the cherry blossoms bloom, I look forward to having a toast with all of our associates together.



#japanesefood #sake #sakebreweries


Enjoy sake more casually

By Yuji Matsumoto
Japanese sake is still a largely unfamiliar beverage to American consumers.
Ninety percent of sake is consumed in restaurants, indicating the unfortunate reality that sake is still far from being casually enjoyed in private homes and parties.

One of the reasons is because the true flavors of sake and how they’re enjoyed is not widely introduced. Therefore, to American diners, sake is still a unique beverage to be enjoyed at local sushi bars. Also, because the prices can be at times higher, products may not be lined visibly on store shelves and information may be lacking on labels, which may be contributing to this issue.
In this issue, I will give you a simple overview of how to select sake.
First, it’s important to decide what menu selections to enjoy the sake with. Similar to how wine enhances the foods you eat, sake is also to be enjoyed during meals.

Meat dishes: Junmai or Junmai Kimoto is recommended (from Kyushu, Tohoku, Kanto, Hokuriku or Nada regions)
Chicken dishes: Ginjo class (from Hiroshima, Niigata, Nada, Hokuriku, and Kanto regions) is recommended
Fish dishes: Ginjo and Daiginjo class (Niigata, Hiroshima, Shikoku, Kyoto regions) are recommended.

Of course, flavoring and preparation methods will influence your choice of sake, but first, it would be interesting to sample sake by region.





#japanesefood #japanesesake #nihonshu #sake


Sake Nation: “Craft Gin and Vodka: Part 3”

By Kosuke Kuji
The last issue covered craft gin. This issue covers craft vodka.
When we obtained a license to produce spirits, the spirits we were permitted to distill did not include “vodka” at the time. Vodka is a specialty of Russia with no need to force production in Japan, while gin was fast gaining attention in Japan with many craft gin distilleries across Japan and worldwide. Therefore, our plan was to produce gin only.
As we produced gin however, we researched vodka, defined simply as “filtered using active carbon from Japanese white birch.” The alcohol to be filtered can be the same base alcohol as gin, produced from sake rice. The most important point was that Iwate prefecture boasted the highest production volume of coal in Japan. The city of Kuji neighboring the city of Ninohe is home to the renowned “Hiraniwa Kogen,” famous for their forest of Japanese white birch. We decided to use active carbon already generated from decayed Japanese white birch to produce vodka.
Gin production requires “lacquer,” the highest volume produced in Japan. We decided to use carbon from Iwate prefecture, where the highest volume of carbon is produced in Japan, to exude regional characteristics in our craft vodka also. Using two raw materials from Iwate prefecture, boasting the top production volume in Japan for both to distill craft gin and craft vodka, we truly succeeded in creating products produced in Iwate prefecture only.
Our craft gin and craft vodka will both be released in the U.S., so please try them if you find them on store shelves. These products are monuments to the new dreams and challenges of Japanese sake breweries.

酒豪大陸「クラフトジンとウォッカ その3」

#flavor #gin #japanese #sake #vodka


History of Sake

Chapter 1: What is the Origin of Sake?

Sake production (brewing) requires rice “molded” with rice malt, thus the same classification as Chinese rice wine. Compared to the Korean sake production exactly matching the Chinese, Japanese sake varies greatly according to the mold type and sake production process.
These differences are due to geographical and climate conditions more suitable for mold to grow in Japan, and the sea distanced Japan from direct influence by the continental culture. This distance is one reason why the continental culture was not accepted as is in Japan, but led to the invention of original and creative brewing technology unique to Japanese sake, another reason for the major difference. This original and creative brewing technology is still used today.

Wetland Rice Cultivation Introduced
Around the second and third centuries B.C., wetland rice cultivation was introduced from Goetsu, China to North Kyushu prefecture, Japan, and South Korea. Rice planting spread from Northern Kyushu to Sanin, Setouchi. The Yayoi people developed new rice fields at low lands, and concurrently passed on sake production using malted rice prepared from only planted rice.


第1章 酒のルーツは?



#history #japanese #origin #sake #wine


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