Sake Nation “New style of sake events following the Coronavirus pandemic”

By Kosuke Kuji

The past three years since the coronavirus outbreak witnessed the relentless scapegoating of “alcohol consumption” in Japan.

The first state of emergency declaration prohibited restaurants from operating, and left a lasting negative impression of alcohol consumption as “bad.” 

 Media outlets questioned whether the restaurant industry would be ensured or not with each state of emergency declared and movement restricted since. If yes, the public reaction would be, “Why only restaurants?” Either way, alcohol consumption was relentlessly scapegoated during the pandemic due to the perception of increased risk of aerosol contagion, causing great disruption to the operations of sake breweries and alcoholic beverage producers to date.    

 Needless to say, the annual kurabiraki, or warehouse opening, organized by sake breweries to invite guests looking forward to sampling their latest new sake, was canceled.

Events to enjoy sake at sake breweries were all canceled as well.

Popular sake brewery tours and sampling events were also canceled.  

As restaurants incurred great losses since the coronavirus outbreak, so did sake breweries supplying sake to these restaurants, restricted in their ways to recover from the fiscal impact of the pandemic.

 Now that Japan downgraded COVID-19 to Category Five, various events can finally resume.

All events held regularly before the pandemic, such as brewery tours, sampling events, kurabiraki (warehouse opening), will soon resume.  

We’ll soon reunite with many customers at various events, but not without restrictions.

For example, we can no longer reuse glasses, and hand sanitizers will be made available at all times.

Please look forward to future sake events in the new post-pandemic era.  













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Sake Ambassador

Rice milling with water wheels 

At a time when rice in the sake production regions of Itami and Ikeda was polished by stomping, rice milling using water wheels started in the Nada region in the fast-flowing river of Rokkosan with abundant water volume. White rice was used with 25~35 percent of the rice bran, etc., removed in the 1800’s. Using water wheels to mill rice required a longer time compared to rice milling today, thought to have produced quality white rice with low gelatinization and low fat oxidation.       

Around 1913, 277 water mills operated in the Nada region. Large volumes of rice were processed in a set period, which increased labor productivity and made mass production of sake possible.  

Focus on cold-weather brewing 

Traditionally, sake was produced seasonally over a nine-month period between June to March of the lunar calendar. Seasonal sake was produced five times a year throughout the four seasons as shin-shu (new sake), aisyu (in-between sake), kanmae-sake (pre-cold weather sake), kansyu (cold weather sake), and haruzake (spring sake). In the Nada region, new rice and seasonal workers were used to focus sake production during the cold weather season for economic advantages.     

Also, bacterial contamination was reduced and the quality of sake improved. To shorten the brewing period, the brewing days were shortened, the production volume was increased, and sake cellars were expanded, etc. 





また、細菌汚染も少なくなり品質的にも向上した。醸造期間を短縮するために、(1)酛(もと)日数の短縮、(2)醪日数の短縮 (3)仕舞個数(しまいこすう)の増大 (4)酒蔵の大型化等々が実施された。

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Tokyo Jizake Strolling (Gallery & Café)

By Ryuji Takahashi

“Gallery & Café Warehouse Garden” is a gallery and café attached to a beautiful garden, operating in a renovated house on the Keio Line Shibasaki Station in the Chofu city of Tokyo. Except for Tuesdays and Wednesdays, lunch starts at 11:00 AM with Japanese and Western course selections, leisurely tea time at 2:00 PM serving homemade cake with coffee or tea, and happy hour at 5:00 PM serving beer, wine, whiskey, sake, appetizers, etc. Local customers often stroll in on their way back from the bathhouse across the street to grab a glass of chilled beer at this café, cherished by their local community.      

The café is attached to the gallery, where various events such as exhibits of paintings, workshops, and occasional musical performances are held weekly. I capitalized on a chance meeting with the owner of this popular café and suggested organizing an event together. My suggestion was graciously accepted, and we organized a seasonal event similar to an outdoor flower-viewing picnic, serving aluminum bottle-shaped cans of Japanese sake Nihonsakari with a seasonal spring bento in the garden.       

I chose Nihonsakari from many Japanese sake brands for their aluminum bottle-shaped sake cans with screw-tops for their practicality. The cans are easy to carry outdoors with the bento served by the café. A new sake product, “JAPAN SODA,” was also released around the same time as our event. JAPAN SODA is a low-alcohol sparkling sake product developed to encourage the casual consumption of Japanese sake, packaged in versatile 180 ml containers. Suzuki-san from Nihonsakari’s Tokyo store attended the event with six selections of their recent popular sake products in addition to JAPAN SODA, such as undiluted sake, Junmai Ginjo, and Daiginjo, each suitable to take outdoors on camping trips, etc.     

The café in a renovated house offers seating at large tables with low chairs and a relaxing ambiance reminiscent of a visit to one’s parents’ home. I snacked on the seasonal spring bento prepared by the owner Kurata-san, while each of us drank from our bottle-shaped cans of sake, enjoyed the garden view, and listened to the calming sounds of water splashing from the pail into the hot springs at this posh, relaxing event. Needless to say, I comfortably fell asleep on my train ride home. I’ve held many events at restaurants and izakayas, but never had the chance to get involved with a café prior to this event. It’s always fun to connect Japanese sake with professionals from a different industry.  


東京都調布市の京王線柴崎駅に一軒家を改装して造られた「ギャラリー&カフェ ウエアハウスガーデン」という庭が素敵なギャラリーカフェが有る。火曜と水曜以外、11時から日替わりランチが毎日和洋の2種から選べるランチタイム、14時からは手作りケーキとコーヒーや紅茶でのんびり出来るカフェタイム、17時からはビール・ワイン・ウイスキー・日本酒などとおつまみが楽しめるバータイムという営業なので、目の前の銭湯で、ひとっ風呂浴びてからビールを飲みにふらっと訪れることも出来る地元の人達から愛されているカフェである。そしてギャラリーを併設しているので、毎週のように様々な催し物が有り、絵画やワークショップなどが楽しめ、時には音楽会なども開かれる。そんな人気カフェのオーナーとひょんな事から知り合いになったので、折角なので合同で何かイベントをしませんかと問い合わせたところ、快諾していただけたので、時期的に日本盛のボトル缶と春のお弁当でお花見をイメージしたイベントをウエアハウスガーデンで開催する事となった。まずなぜ日本酒メーカーの中から日本盛にしたかと言うと、日本盛はスクリューキャップのボトル缶で有名なので、カフェのお花見弁当と一緒に外に持ち出せるというコンセプトと、ちょうどそのタイミングで、新商品の「JAPAN SODA」が発売になったからである。このJAPAN SODA はもっと日常の中にカジュアルに日本酒を楽しんでもらいたいというコンセプトの下、低アルコールで発泡性、容量が180ミリと誰でも手に取りやすい酒となっている。日本盛からは東京支店の鈴木さんが駆けつけてくれて、JAPAN SODA以外にも、既に人気商品となっていて最近はキャンプなどのアウトドアのお供として人気の生原酒や純米吟醸缶・大吟醸缶と熱燗専用缶など6種類を用意した。一軒家のカフェとあって、テーブルが大き目で椅子が低く、実家にいる様な落ち着く雰囲気である。そしてオーナーの倉田さんの花見弁当をつまみながら、皆各々ボトル缶を楽しみ、綺麗に手入れされた庭を眺め、時折聞こえる銭湯のお湯と桶の音に心を浄化される楽しい大人イベントとなった。そして帰りの電車で心地よくて寝てしまったことは説明するまでもない。今まで、レストランや居酒屋でイベントを開催することはあっても、カフェと関わる事は全くなかったので、ちょっと違う世界の人達と日本酒を繋げてみるのも面白いものである。
#alljapannews #japanese #japanesefood #japanesesake #jizake #sake #tokyo


Purchase Motive and Sake Labels

By Yuji Matsumoto

When I go to a nearby Japanese supermarket, I often find Americans at complete loss as to what to choose in the sake/shochu section.  The same goes even for the Japanese, unless you have the brands memorized.  So how can we categorize sake to make it easy for consumers to choose? We need to look into their purchase motivations, and what questions they have.

Consumers’ purchase motivations

• I like sake A because it’s rich-bodied and has good acidity and pairs well with meat dishes, but I couldn’t find it in a supermarket. How can I find something similar to it?

• Which sake will be good as a birthday present for my girlfriend(boyfriend), who usually prefers red wines with higher tannin levels?

• I usually enjoy drinking B, but today is a special occasion and I want something similar but more expensive. How do I choose one?

• What’s good as hot sake?

Generally speaking, these are the sorts of questions normal consumers have. 

It’s impossible to provide answers to all such questions and display sake accordingly, but it is possible to categorize them by the aroma, body, and food parings. Below chart is what I would use as an attempt to categorize most of the sake, based on my innumerous tastings in the past. 

First, have the breweries categorize all their sake being exported to U.S. into “zones.” If they think their sake is refreshing with an aroma of a cantaloupe, it should be in the “summer zone.”  The categorizations should be displayed on labels in an industry-wide standardized format.  Restaurants and retailers can then post posters or hang messages on the neck of the bottles, to explain the zoning map. The breweries can have their own logos in the middle of the labels as they wish. I sincerely hope that sake bottle labels can be standardized as such.




• Aという濃醇なボディーで酸味香のある肉料理に合う日本酒が好きだが、スーパーに行ったらこの銘柄が無かった。Aという銘柄に近いものを探すのにはどうするか。

• 今回は、彼(彼女)の誕生日なので、普段タンニンの効いた赤ワイン好きな彼(彼女)が気に入る日本酒はどれだろうか。

• 普段はBという銘柄を好んで飲んでいるが、今日は特別な日なので値段が高い同じ傾向の日本酒がほしいがどうやって選ぶか。

• 熱燗に適した日本酒はどれ?



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