Communicate the appeal of sake to customers

By Yuji Matsumoto

Happy New Year! We look forward to working with you again this year.

No matter how good a product is, the message needs to be communicated for customers to try the product.
let’s consider when the appropriate timing is and how to communicate the appeal of Japanese sake in a way that leads to sales.

Consider who the message is directed to
Are chefs, servers, and bartenders trained appropriately? Training the staff to thoroughly understand why a brand of sake tastes delicious and why customers should try it is important because a single try will not be sufficient to understand even ten percent of the appeal of a brand. Therefore, please have staff try the sake paired with the cuisine.

Of course, a good place to start would be to have the servers change their ordering from “What can I get you to drink?” to “It’s cold outside, would you like to try some hot sake?” This suggestion alone is a major difference. Also, please mention two to three different brands of Japanese sake during the recommendation.

Speak informatively to customers in a way that generates a response like “Oh really?” For example, “How about AAA, a dry and refreshing sake from Niigata that goes great with sushi?” Or “Would you like to try BBB, a brand of sake from Akita that has body and goes great with teriyaki?” The point is to word the recommendations into easy-to-understand sales pitches that makes customers want to try the brand. Offer two to three different brands that range from reasonable to mid-range prices.






#japanese #japanesefood #japaneserestaurant #junmai #kanpai #newyear #sake


Sake Nation “Activities of New Sake Breweries: Part 3”

By Kosuke Kuji

Hokkaido prefecture is fast garnering attention as home to one of several new locations of Kamikawa Taisetsu Sake Brewery, featured in the last report.
Another reason Hokkaido is garnering attention is a sake brewery in Gifu prefecture relocated their entire sake brand to produce sake in Hokkaido, an unprecedented development in past history.
Koji Yamada, CEO of Michizakura Shuzou brewery, producer of the “Michizakura” sake brand for the past 143 years, explained the impact of global warming and the search for a new location from their deteriorated brewery in Gifu prefecture led to his decision to relocate to Hokkaido prefecture.
The reason for their relocation had nothing to do with a brewery closure nor any change in ownership. The current owner of the founding family departed Gifu prefecture after nearly 140 years in business and chose Hokkaido prefecture as their new home to continue their legacy.
Japan is indeed impacted by global warming, requiring western breweries to expand their cooling facilities while rice crops are more easily destroyed by high temperatures. I hear breweries in southern and western Japan face many challenges due to the weather. Moving to Hokkaido prefecture eliminates this challenge posed by the climate. Further, recent rice harvested in Hokkaido is said to have improved significantly.
Further, Hokkaido prefecture is prepared to welcome new breweries to the region like Kamikawa Taisetsu Sake Brewery, which likely inspired Yamada to relocate to Hokkaido.
The new “Michizakura,” released as a new regional sake produced in Hokkaido, is popular among many fans of the Michizakura sake brand in addition to new consumers in Hokkaido, indicating their relocation was a success.
I’m confident regional sake from Hokkaido prefecture will continue to garner attention.

酒豪大陸「新しい酒蔵の息吹 その3」


#KamikawaTaisetsu #Michizakura #hokkaido #japanese #japanesesake #jizake #sake


Sake shops in the center of Kyoto and surrounding areas

Sake breweries were established by the Taira no Kiyomori era at the end of the 12th century. However, sake breweries started to operate nationwide around the 13th century.
The Kamakura Shogunate (Tokiyori HOJO) destroyed approximately 37,200 sake barrels in Kamakura city in 1252, and promulgated the “Alcohol sales prohibition injunction” to local districts. Afterwards, sake breweries grew in numbers and became prosperous.
Sake breweries in Kyoto began to gain attention nationwide around 1378, when the Muromachi shogunate 3rd shogun (commander) Yoshimitsu Ashikaga completed construction of the Ashikaga family’s resident palace, “Flower Palace.”
The 2nd shogun Yoshiakira Ashikaga purchased the “Flower Palace” from a court noble, which he used as a detached residence before he presented it to Emperor Sukou, who used the villa as his residence, thus referred to as the “Flower Palace.” This was the time when the shogunate decided to collect taxes from sake breweries.
In the “Sake Breweries registered in Kyoto” from 1425, 342 sake breweries were registered, of which two breweries were famous – “Yagani Sakaya” of Gojoboumon Nishi no Toin and “Ume Sakaya” of Gojo Karasuma.
In this way, sake breweries grew in Kyoto because rice from nationwide were gathered at the rice exchange since the shogunate regarded taxes from sake breweries as an important source of revenue, which helped sake breweries develop.


鎌倉幕府(北条頼時(よりとき)) は、建長4年(1252)に鎌倉の酒壷3万7千2百余りを破棄して、「酒販売禁制令」を諸国へ公布したが、それ以後も造り酒屋はますます繁栄して行った。
京都の酒屋が全国的に脚光を浴びたのは、室町幕府3代将軍足利義満が造営した足利家の邸宅の通称の「花の御所」が成った永和4年(1378) 頃である。「花の御所」とは、2代将軍足利義詮が公家から買上げて別邸とした後に崇光上皇に献上し、崇光上皇の御所となったことで「花の御所」と呼ばれるようになった。この時期に幕府は酒屋を税の対象とし始めた。

#japanesefood #kamakura #kyoto #sake


Tokyo Jizake Strolling (wine from around the world)

By Ryuji Takahashi

Recently, the “World Liquor and Cheese Festival” was held at the Daimaru Tokyo department store connected directly to the Tokyo Station, one of the terminal stations representative of Japan. The admission fee was 3,000 JPY, the shopping voucher to make purchases within the venue.
This system implies to shoppers, “once inside the venue, you’ll miss out without taking advantage of this opportunity to shop” and “no free food samples are offered to passers-by.” At product fairs, people can usually stroll by and easily sample food and beverages for free. Therefore, lines of people before the samples with no intent to purchase keep away people with the intent to purchase in many cases. Also, as some people may still fear infection by the coronavirus, how this event was organized can prevent the spread of the coronavirus. In the future, this may be the way events should be organized at department stores.
This event organized for the 100th time was held over 6 days, 3 events/1 day. Participants had the option to purchase early bird tickets or same-day tickets. I attended the 2nd event on the final day, where I saw approximately 40 people lined up to purchase same-day tickets. I was handed a coaster made of cork as the shopping voucher and entered the venue.
Wine brands from around the world filled the venue, where each importer poured samples before the booth. The event titled “world liquor” mostly served wine, olive oil, and food samples to sell the products.
At this event, many Middle Eastern American and African American exhibitors were exhibiting products. Therefore, I was interested in sampling many food and beverage products to take home the products I found to be delicious. I started with classic Italian food samples, then sampled the French booth, Eastern Europe, Middle Eastern food from the Caucasus region, Africa to North America, South America, and Spanish food booths.
I discovered new food products from Moldova and Tunisia. I purchased white wine from Moldova and Tunisia, red wine from Italy, and 3 different types of cheese. After sampling many food and beverages, approximately 7,000 JPY is very economical for 2 people attending this event.
Also, I learned a lot from my conversations with sommeliers and sales associates of each importer. Competent sales associates who remembered the faces of guests interested in making a purchase from the nearly 100 people in attendance were surrounded by crowds to whom they sold products based on their knowledge, not promotion. On the other hand, sales representatives who appeared prideful were seemingly approached by a few guests. The stark difference between the two groups of sales professionals was evident. Recently, many events are held as restrictions are relaxed. I look forward to seeing various promotional food and beverage events resume as a ray of light that revives hope for the struggling food industry.


#drinking #japanesefood #sake #sommeliers #wine #winetasting


Let's drink Sake

By Yuji Matsumoto

What is good sake?
Certainly one standard is the price, but we need to think if we can find a sake that has the value to satisfy ones taste. It is important to find a "sake that suits me" instead of a good sake. There would be a tendency for one that likes fully body red wines to prefer a Junmai-Kimoto or Honjozo type, and one that likes a young, fruity chardonnay to prefer a gentle, strong aroma Daiginjyo type.

Cold or Hot
Many people think that high quality sake should be enjoyed cold but this is wrong. Compared to fine quality sake which you can drink without worrying about the temperature, sake that has poor balance should be enjoyed extremely cold.

Tasting method
Sip it with air like you would with wine. For the glass, it is important to pour a small amount into a glass for white wines type and swish it around lightly to come in contact with air.

Drinking container is important
It is amazing that the taste can totally change with the glass you use not only for sake but for wines and beers also. If you want to enjoy the taste, especially examine the aroma, it is good to use a small white wine glass. If you are having it hot, it is good to use a smaller ceramic type container that doesn't have the shape to be smothered with alcohol steam and doesn't cover your nose when you put it to your mouth.






#japanese #japanesefood #junmai #sake #tasting


Sake Nation “Activities of New Sake Breweries: Part 2”

By Kosuke Kuji

The last issue introduced sake brewery “Tenbi” (Yamaguchi prefecture). New sake brewery “Kamikawa Taisetsu Sake Brewery” recently emerged in Hokkaido as well.
This brewery was originally based out of Mie prefecture, where they acquired a license from an inactive brewery, transferred to Hokkaido prefecture, and started producing a new sake brand.
A new sake brewery suddenly opened in Hokkaido prefecture, completely different from the sake produced in Mie prefecture. I curiously observed the launch of the new brewery from a distance as I pondered their future.
Surprisingly, Kamikawa Taisetsu Sake Brewery was accepted across Hokkaido prefecture, quickly became popular and widely consumed as the “sake” representative of Hokkaido prefecture.
Further, the brewery built another Japanese sake brewery within the Obihiro University of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine, where they started operating as “Hekiungura.” It’s exceptionally rare for a sake brewery to be operating inside a university campus, which generated major headlines.
Sake products produced by Kamikawa Taisetsu Sake Brewery are widely consumed not only in Hokkaido prefecture, but throughout Japan.
The brewery’s label is quite memorable and surprising, utilizing branding that is far removed from the concept of past Japanese sake breweries.
This brewery’s challenge to revitalize vitality throughout Japan is ready to make waves in the long-established Japanese sake industry, hinting at a new future.
Please look forward to this sake representative of Hokkaido prefecture to be imported into the U.S. in the near future.

酒豪大陸「新しい酒蔵の息吹 その2」

#breweries #japanese #japanesefood #japanesesake #sake


Medieval Sake

When the age of the aristocracy ended and samurais came to the forefront, major changes took place in the world of sake production. Homemade cloudy sake common up to that point gradually became obsolete and sake breweries emerged.
Also, copper coins were imported from trades with China during this time, when the traditional barter-based economy was replaced with a monetized economy. Therefore, commercial sake production increased according to documents, while many sake breweries referred to as “Dosou” lined the streets of Kyoto and doubled as a financial institution.
During the Period of the Northern and Southern Dynasties (420-589 A.D.) leading into the Kamakura period (1185-1333), both the Imperial Court and the shogunate had financial difficulties that led to taxes imposed on sake. A document from the mid-Muromachi period (1336~1573) listed the names of over 300 sake breweries in the city of Kyoto.
Also, sake production flourished in Buddhist temples around this time. Sake produced in Buddhist temples by monks is referred to as “Soubousyu.” Produced and sold to raise profits, Soubousyu were required to be high-quality, thus sake production skills advanced greatly during this period.

#japan #japanese #kyoto #sake


Tokyo Jizake Strolling (Secret Fad)

By Ryuji Takahashi

Chinese restaurant Machi-chuka is a secret fad in Tokyo. Machi-chuka was featured on TV and also in an entire magazine issue. Recently, one food producer is selling pre-packaged food products and condiments named the “Machi-chuka series,” currently in demand and difficult to obtain.
Although the line to categorize the restaurant is difficult to draw, Machi-chuka is a popular, individually-owned, community-based restaurant serving affordable delicious Chinese cuisine to the community since the Showa Era (1926-1989). At least one Machi-chuka location can be found in town throughout Tokyo. Cleanliness, ambiance, and flavor vary by restaurant location. I frequent different Machi-chuka locations on my days off. Many Machi-chuka restaurants are family-operated and opened to serve factory workers during the period of rapid economic growth, thus stocked with cartoon magazines and installed ashtrays.
Recently, many restaurants serve beer in medium bottles. However, regulars at Machi-chuka say the custom is to order beer in large bottles. I always start by ordering a can of beer with light appetizers, such as bamboo shoots and char siu. If no light appetizers are listed in the menu, I recommend the pan-fried gyoza dumplings. However, gyoza stuffed with filling is not what makes gyoza good.
Considering what to order afterwards, the ideal gyoza dumpling is filled mainly with vegetables and pan-fried to a crispy finish. I struggle with what to order afterwards every time, but will likely order stir-fried liver and garlic chives. The restaurant’s culinary techniques are evident in the exquisite balance between the liver, bean sprouts, chives and the sauce. Then comes the fried rice. Fried rice served at Machi-chuka is best moist, not dry. Stir-frying with lard is the best.
Crab used in crab fried rice must be imitation crab meat, not real crab. Using real crab meat increases the price dramatically. When students and businessmen gather during lunch hours, the more affordable imitation crab meat in greater volume is appreciated by customers. By this time, I’m starting to drink strong Green Tea-hi with a higher portion of shochu eyeballed by the hostess, not streamlined by chain izakaya restaurants.
Curry served at Machi-chuka is not stewed, but prepared to order with stir-fried ingredients, soup for Chinese noodles poured in, curry powder mixed in, and cornstarch dissolved with water added to make it thick. Mostly the same curry powder is used, while the soup for Chinese noodles differ according to the restaurant location, which allows each restaurant to serve their own original curry flavor. Machi-chuka offers a wide range of menu items with deep flavors. I expect my quest to continue for a long time.

#japanese #japanesefood #jizake #sake #tokyo


Prepare for the upcoming party season.

By Yuji Matsumoto

When we get into December, restaurants start becoming busy with year-end parties and Christmas parties, and we should start preparation from the beginning of November. During this time, wines and champagnes are consumed a lot and even served by restaurants, and it is disappointing that sales of Japanese sake is slightly held back by them. However, if you think of what goes good with food, I feel that Japanese sake is the winner. Also it can be consumed at different temperatures and I am happy that hot sake can warm up your body during the cold seasons.
With some thought out presentations, you can drink Japanese sake in style.
Let's start with the glass. By using the white wine glass instead of the usual Japanese sake glass, you can increase the luxury at your table. If you like sparkling alcohol like champagne, it would be interesting to serve sake in a flute glass. Varieties of sparkling Japanese sake has increased recently and we're thankful that they are being sold at reasonable prices. Also, we would like you to try flavor sake which is popular during this season.
If you like to drink hot sake, we suggest you buy the sake warming set on the market that uses candles to warm sake. This would be a very good match with Western style foods.


#christmas #holiday #japanese #japanesesake #party #sake #wine #yearend


Sake Nation “Activities of New Sake Breweries: Part I”

By Kosuke Kuji

The Japanese sake industry developed as a regional industry long-established in ancient times. On the other hand, this industry is difficult to enter for beginners. New license to produce sake is nearly impossible to obtain, a controversial issue with arguments for both sides.

Meanwhile, new sake breweries do emerge in Japan. Since a new license to produce sake is impossible to obtain, a different corporation typically emerges to rescue a closed sake brewery in many cases.
One such case is Choshu Sake Brewery Co., Ltd., based in Yamaguchi prefecture, producer of “Tenbi.”
Choshu Sake Brewery Co., Ltd. (Yamaguchi prefecture) was founded when Choshu Industry Co., Ltd., capitalizing on their photovoltaic (PV) power generating system, emerged to rescue Kodama Brewery that had already ceased sake production. Choshu Sake Brewery Co., Ltd. welcomed a female master sake brewer (my junior colleague), a graduate of Tokyo University of Agriculture, Department of Fermentation Science; to regroup as Choshu Sake Brewery Co., Ltd. and produce a new sake brand “Tenbi.”
For detailed background information on the brewery, please refer to the home page (https://choshusake.com/history).

The female master sake brewer is passionately and carefully thorough in her excellent sake production skills. The quality sake “Tenbi” produced the first year after the new brewery was built garnered many headlines nationwide.
Since this sake cannot be produced in large volumes yet, export to the U.S. is not available. Since Choshu Sake Brewery Co., Ltd. is still a new sake brewery producing a rare new brand of sake with a delicate and delicious flavor, please try “Tenbi” if you see it in Japan on a store shelf.

酒豪大陸「新しい酒蔵の息吹 その1」

#japanese #japanesefood #sake


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