Tokyo Jizake Strolling (sales events at the end of the year)

By Ryuji Takahashi

Japanese sake sells most in the month of December. To say cheap sake, high-end sake, and sake products containing gold flakes all sell on their own upon display is not an understatement. Our sake shop organizes annual storefront sales events for two sake breweries in December and at the end of the year over a three-day period, with part-time workers hired for the events. Since the coronavirus outbreak, customers who cannot travel home, voluntarily refrained from booking restaurant reservations for year-end parties, and other reasons made predicting the circumstances in December difficult over the past several years. Trying to anticipate how much inventory we’ll carry when breweries stop shipping their sake products after Christmas was a major headache.      

This year however, I ordered higher volumes of sake products, determined to sell our inventory of table sake and high-end sake. A major cold wave unexpectedly hit the Sea of Japan from the side, which delayed the delivery of my shipment twice due to snow. The delay left me anxious, wondering if the sake products I planned to sell at the end of the year will be delivered on time. Meanwhile, Kanemasu Brewery of Niigata prefecture helped at the sales event for two days.   

As I wrote before, Kanemasu Brewery celebrated a major milestone last year of 200 years in business. Their featured product was the Junmai-Daiginjo “Hatsuhana,” sold only at the end of the year. Every year, I deliberate how many of this sake product priced above 10,000 JPY I should place on our store shelves. However, the product always sells out on December 31. Last year, I took many pre-orders for this popular product once again. We held our storefront sales event featuring the thick cloudy Junmai-Ginjo “Hatsuyuki” and sake nouveau Takarazukushi as the main products. Many customers visited and made the December event successful for the sake brewery that celebrated 200 years in business.          

The event for Hakuro Brewery of Niigata prefecture was scheduled several days after Kanemasu Brewery’s storefront sales event. Unfortunately, I was notified the delayed shipment will not arrive before the event due to snow, and the event was cancelled. After several anxious days of wondering what would happen to my purchased products, we were able to reschedule the storefront sales event as a two-day event once the products arrived, thanks to the courtesy of Hakuro Brewery. 

Hakuro Brewery staff shivered in the bitter winter cold selling Daiginjo, produced from sake rice polished up to thirty-five percent; cloudy Junmai-Daiginjo sake, nouveau Junmai-Ginjo sake, and sparkling Junmai sake. Sales exceeded expectations as more customers arrived than anticipated under the clear refreshing winter sky. Although December was filled with anxieties surrounding the delayed shipment due to the cold wave, increased number of people infected by the coronavirus, and decreased number of year-end party reservations, etc., the Japanese custom of welcoming the near year with sake is far from obsolete. I felt proud of the Japanese sake culture this December as men and women of various ages still enjoy sake to date.          


#coronavirus #japanese #japanesefood #jizake #sake


Key Sake Sales Points

By Yuji Matsumoto

Many of those involved in sake tend to prefer to use vague and mysterious expressions. It seems as if they dislike saying anything definitive about a product’s characteristics. However, in order to sell specific sake in a market full of many options (including wine and beer), sake makers need to have a more focused development and sales effort. This can be said about both the manufacturers and the sellers. If a sake is just “good for anyone” or “goes with everything” it just won’t stand out.

Dealing with many consumers on a daily basis making proposals on sake, I realize that there are requisite key points. Going over these points alone makes the conversation a success. Roughly speaking, there are four points. 

The first is aroma. Explain the strength of the product’s aroma (gorgeous or tender) and its characteristics (fruity, floral, alcohol).

The second is body. Explain the product’s sweetness, acid taste, bitterness, and also how it goes down one’s throat. 

The third is food pairing. Select the absolute best dish for it. 

The fourth is temperature. Explain which temperature setting is best for the product: room temperature, hot, or cold?

Sake manufacturers need to be aware of these points as well. Have a clear vision when developing a product, such as where your target market is, and what you want it to do. “I want my sake to pair with beef steaks like no red wines can” is a good example. And make sure you convey the message in your marketing effort.








#japanese #japanesefood #japanesesake #sake


Sake Nation “A new way to promote Japanese sake combines a live-stream (2D) event with an in-person tasting (3D) event: Part 2”

By Kosuke Kuji

“The Japan Ginjo Sake Association” with over forty years of history held a new style of sake event that combines a live-stream (two-dimensional) event with an in-person tasting (three-dimensional) event.

Until now, Japanese sake was enjoyed as a personal, physical experience in a three-dimensional world.     

However, this collaborative event was organized with “VTubers” – virtual YouTubers with a large fan base across Japan and worldwide – for both real and virtual sake enthusiasts to enjoy sake together, especially Ginjo sake. Participating VTubers include “Tamaki Inuyama” of “Otokono-ko VTuber,” “Takuma Kumagaya,” caregiver of Inuyama; virtual maid “Mishiro Shirayuki,” and virtual artist “Yuzuru Himesaki.”        

Each of these four VTubers enjoy a large fan base, not only in Japan, but worldwide. 

When The Japan Ginjo Sake Association launched forty years ago, it was unthinkable that traditional Japanese sake breweries would one day collaborate with VTubers to promote their sake products. 

Although conventional customers of Japanese sake are well served, past sake tasting events are no longer sufficient to cultivate a new consumer base for Japanese sake.   

This dreamy collaboration was organized from this new global perspective, especially since these four VTubers were already Japanese sake enthusiasts to begin with. 

Please look forward to the details of this event to be reported in the next issue! 

The Japan Ginjo Sake Association Website: 

酒豪大陸「二次元と三次元の融合による新たな日本酒の道 その2」










#ginjo #japanese #japanesefood #japanesesake #sake


Sake produced during the Kamakura (1185-1333) and Muromachi periods (1336-1573)

The Onin War (1467) prompted a civil war in Japan, a period of unrest when warriors fought for power nationwide.
Products started to circulate actively in castle towns of warring lords and around temples and shrines. Local sake excluding “Soubousyu” (sake produced in Buddhist temples by monks) expanded into Kyoto city and started to compete against sake shops.

Prototype of the current sake production method
During the latter half of the civil war, “sweet white sake” was produced from polished rice at the Shourekiji Temple on Mt. Yamato-Bobaisan, where the critically-acclaimed “Bodaisen” was also produced. Sweet white sake reached a status comparable to “Amanoshu,” the most highly acclaimed sake in Kyoto during the 16th century. The Tamon-in diary used the terms “pasteurization” and “multiple fermentation” to describe the sweet white sake.

Locally produced sake
Sake was produced in port towns where rice gathered during the civil war, and later in castle towns of warring lords. The most representative sake are as follows: ①Settsu Nishinomiya Sake, ②Kaga Miyakoshi Chrysanthemum Sake, ③Hakata unrefined sake, ④Izu Egawa sake, ⑤Oumi Sakamoto sake, ⑥Bizen Kashima sake, ⑦Bingo Onomichi, Mihara sake ⑧Buzen Kokura sake, and ⑨Fushimi sake.
Technically speaking, these sake brewed in cold weather and fermented multiple times serves as the basis for sake production today.


現在の清酒つくりの原型  諸白酒(もろはくしゅ)

代表的なものとして、 ①摂津西宮の旨酒 ②加賀宮越の菊酒 ③博多の練貫(ねりぬき)酒④伊豆の江川酒 ⑤近江坂本の酒 ⑥備前児島の酒 ⑦備後尾道、三原の酒 ⑧豊前小倉の酒

#japanesefood #japanesehistory #jizake #kamakura #muromachi #sake


Tokyo Jizake Strolling (Nishi-Shinjuku district or Jyunisou district?)

By Ryuji Takahashi

Between Shinjuku district and Hatsudai district is an area traditionally called the Jyunisou district on the west side of Shinjuku Central Park, a red-light district since the Meiji Era (1868-1912). Now a business district consisting of apartments and office buildings, the area is frequented by businessmen during the day. At night however, chic restaurants in the district illuminate the nightscape. One such restaurant is “Takuan Botantei” celebrating 23 years in business, where I attended the Beaujolais Nouveau release party.

Restaurant Takuan Botantei serves “Misogyu- nabe,” their specialty beef and miso hot pot that evolved into sukiyaki today. Other menu selections include premium Japanese wagyu steak, sukiyaki, wine and sake. The attractive proprietress dressed in a traditional Japanese kimono runs the restaurant. The dining area consists of modern and elegant table seats reminiscent of the Taisho Era (1912-1926) and a traditional Japanese room with tatami (straw) floors, decorated with an original print by Japanese woodblock print artist Shiko Munakata, reminiscent of the nightlife in Jyunisou when the district was bustling.
I was led to the traditional Japanese tatami room and told bottomless beer, highball, and wine were on the menu. I started with beer, then ordered Beaujolais Nouveau. I passed on the course menu this year as a precaution against the coronavirus infection and ordered a meal in a 2-tiered wooden box instead, followed by a tasteful appetizer, beef stew, and wine. As I started to get tipsy, the proprietress came and greeted me. The kappore started next, a traditional Japanese comic dance performed to folk songs and pop songs popular at the time, also performed by geishas in the past.
I excitedly took in the kappore dance typical in the Jyunisou district, followed by an authentic flamenco performance. Instantly, two musicians and two flamenco dancers transformed the ambiance from the Jyunisou district to Spain. Customers joined in on the lively dance performance known as “rienda,” which I thoroughly enjoyed.
The term ‘rienda’ is derived from the Spanish word ‘riendasueruta,’ meaning “to draw out one’s charm at will.” As I sipped Beaujolais Nouveau basking in the afterglow of the passionate flamenco performance on stage, the guitarist from the flamenco performance joined the proprietress playing the shamisen (a traditional Japanese three-stringed lute) and started the memorial performance to honor the late Japanese rock musician Kiyoshiro Imawano. Customers were handed song lyrics cards to sing along to the performance that gradually reached a crescendo. The audience seemed to blow off all their stresses accumulated since the coronavirus pandemic, a very liberating moment.
The restaurant with stylish décor, enjoyable performances, delicious cuisine and wine is not a place young customers can walk into casually. Restaurant Takuan Botantei survived 23 years in the competitive Nishi-Shinjuku district, where refined etiquette and discretionary funds are required of customers to dine in the skyscraper district, thanks to the hospitable service and tireless efforts by the proprietress to keep guests entertained in my opinion. I thoroughly enjoyed my night of time travel to the Jyunisou district.



#japanesefood #jizake #sake #tokyo


Expanding Sake Sales

By Yuji Matsumoto

Recently in the U.S., wine discount stores like BevMo and Total Wine and More, etc., are prosperous. Also, rural areas have local large liquor stores that sell various alcoholic beverages (tequila, ji-beer (local craft beers), champagne, whiskey, etc.) in addition to wine. When I went to Las Vegas last week, I stopped by the largest local liquor chain store, where I was surprised to see the very limited selections of Japanese sake. With various foreign tequilas, wines, and ji-beer lining the shelves, why were there so little selections of Japanese sake offered? Also, the few selections available were without tages and lost in the “Asian” alcoholic section.

With the current Sake Tour indicating high public interest in Japanese sake and shochu, it’s disappointing to see so few outlets offering the products. The question I’m most often asked is, “This sake is delicious. Where can I buy it?” However, as of yet, the only answer I can provide is our restaurant. I’m also surprised to see customers who wish to purchase by the bottle.

Over ninety-percent of Japanese sake and shochu consumption takes place at Japanese restaurants. However, as long as this is the case, the market will not expand. Japan-affiliated markets are available only in some major cities. To have Americans consume sake and shochu “at home,” it is necessary for these products to be distributed more and more to specialty liquor stores and their staff trained.


最近米国ではBevmoやTotal Wine and Moreなどのワインディスカウント店が繁盛している。また地方に行くと地元の大型リカーショップ店があり、これらの店にはワイン以外にありとあらゆるアルコール飲料(テキーラ、地ビール、シャンペン、ウィスキー等)が陳列されている。先週ラスベガスに行った際にも地元最大のリカーチェーン店に足を運んでみたが、日本酒の種類の乏しさに唖然とした。海外産のテキーラやワイン、地ビールがこんなにあるのになぜ日本酒がこんなに少ないのか、また、何もタグがなく、ただ「Asian」のアルコールの中に埋もれていた。
現在行っているSake Tourでこれだけ日本酒や焼酎に興味を持っている人がいるのに、購入する場所がないのはとても残念なことだ。一番多く受ける質問は、「この酒美味しいですね、どこで買えるのか?」である。しかし、現状としては当店のレストランのみ、ということしか言えない。ボトルで購入したい、という顧客の多さには驚くばかりだ。

#japanesefood #japanesesake #sake #shochu


Sake Nation “A new way to promote Japanese sake combines a live-stream (2D) event with an in-person tasting (3D) event: Part I”

Sake Nation “A new way to promote Japanese sake combines a live-stream (two-dimensional) event with an in-person tasting (three-dimensional) event: Part I”

By Kosuke Kuji
The production volume of Japanese sake has been dropping continuously in Japan to date since 1975.
To the contrary, production volume of premium sake like “Ginjo” and “Junmai” are continuing to increase.
However, Japan’s population is starting to decline, with less opportunities to consume alcohol in part due to the aging population. Getting Japan’s population to consume alcohol is getting more difficult in this day and age. Despite the demand for sake increasing overseas, the production volume is not that high, another challenge to tackle since not all breweries export sake.
In this predicament, breweries industry-wide joined forces and founded “The Japan Ginjo Sake Association” to introduce flavorful Ginjo sake throughout Japan.
Founded in 1980 before premium sake was launched, the association celebrates 41 years since their foundation.
The Japan Ginjo Sake Association reflected on their long history of 40 years and organized the tasting event, “Enjoy! Ginjo Fair,” to take on new challenges against the Coronavirus pandemic.
This new type of tasting event is the first in the world to feature a VTuber (virtual YouTuber) to combine a live-stream (two-dimensional) event with an actual tasting (three-dimensional) event to introduce the appeal of Ginjo sake.
The next report elaborates on the background that led to the organization of this event. Please stay tuned!

The Japan Ginjo Sake Association Home Page

酒豪大陸「二次元と三次元の融合による新たな日本酒の道 その1」


#ginjo #japanese #japanesefood #junmai #sake


Zoboshu (alcoholic beverage for monks)

Sake was produced in Shinto shrines and Buddhist temple grounds in high volumes as offerings since the syncretistic fusion of Shintoism and Buddhism, “prohibition (of sake)” was issued in 1420.
Annual rice yield collected as taxes gathered from across Japan to medieval Buddhist temples, as the vast temple grounds were suitable to store the rice. In addition, many monks and their disciples supplied the labor, fulfilling all the necessary conditions to produce sake. During this time, the production of zoboshu (alcoholic beverage for monks) led to the rapid refinement of sake production skills using yeast starter, steamed rice, koji, and the “multiple fermentation method” already used to prepare the water by this time, along with “Bodaisen” (fine and exclusive sake) – the original form of the modern day starter culture - as referenced in the records “Sake Diary.”
Also, the “Tamon-in diary” mentions the terms “pasteurization” and “multiple fermentation.”
The following Zoboshu were especially renowned:

Amanoshu: Kawachi-Amanosan, Kongoji
Hyakusaijishu:Oumi, Hyakusaiji
Bodaisen: Yamato-Bobaisan, Shoryakuji
Tounomineshu: Yamato, Myouryakuji


寺院では中世の神仏習合(しんぶつしゅうごう)時より、境内の鎮守社への献酒にお酒を造っていたが、応永27年(1420) には「寺内禁酒令」が出るほど大量に造られるようになった。


#Zoboshu #japan #japanese #japanesesake #sake


Tokyo Jizake Strolling (200 years of history)

By Ryuji Takahashi

Kanemasu Brewery (Shibata city, Niigata prefecture), producer of Junmai Daiginjo “Hatsuhana” and “Kinmasu,” celebrated 200 years since their foundation. Kanemasu Brewery was founded as “Takahashi Shuzo” in Shin-Niigata city, Niigata prefecture in 1822 and relocated to their current location in Shibata city in 1930 to access quality water and rice. I received an invitation from Kanemasu brewery to celebrate 200 years in business. Since the liquor shop I operate is a client of the brewery, I visited Shibata city, Niigata prefecture to attend the celebration. On my way, I first stopped by Aumont Sake Brewery, Inc., also located in Shibata city, Niigata prefecture.
The reason for my visit was to verify a rumor that started when Ichishima Sake Brewery changed their name to Aumont Sake Brewery, Inc. in February 2022. A rumor that the brewery’s retail shop became their promotional shop and tourist attraction circulated. Upon arrival, I was surprised to see how clean the brewery was, more like a posh Japanese restaurant in the suburbs in appearance. When I stepped inside, sake brands on the shelves consisted not only of Aumont Sake Brewery, but also by Kikusui and Kanemasu Breweries. The retail shop selling local food products is equipped with a food court, acting as a promotional shop for Aumont Sake Brewery as rumored. Although I wanted to purchase some local specialty foods, I still had to reach my primary destination. Therefore, I put off my purchase and headed to Kanemasu Brewery. Upon arrival, several participants had already arrived, along with food trucks from a local café on stand-by.
First, I spoke to the founder and master sake brewer, enjoyed a glass of beer and sake served as a gesture to welcome my visit, then followed the master sake brewery on a tour of the brewery. Although I was already familiar with the inside of the brewery, it’s not often I enter the brewery with many other visitors. Just seeing the reaction of other visitors was interesting. A 40-minute introduction of the brewery was presented throughout the day, with many visitors listening to the master sake brewer’s introduction. Next came the main product of the event, coffee liquor. In September, Brazil celebrated 200 years since declaring independence from Portugal. To commemorate this celebration, the Brazilian Embassy consulted Kanemasu Brewery, also celebrating their 200-year anniversary, to discuss a collaborative product produced from Brazilian coffee beans.
Kasutori shochu (made from distilling sake lees left over from fermenting sake) is the main shochu produced by a Japanese sake brewery, produced by Kanemasu Brewery using pot distillation. The brewery also produces rice shochu, sweet potato shochu, and distilled beverages. Shochu and Brazilian coffee beans were used to produce this collaborative coffee liquor, refreshing to the palate with a fragrant coffee aroma that calms the mind of the consumer, completed to perfection. The joint celebration between the Brazilian Embassy and Kanemasu Brewery continued for several days until preparation for production started, which consisted of a photo exhibition, capoeira performances, musical performances, etc. The day left me mesmerized by the depth of Japanese sake that established a fated connection made possible only after 200 years in business.


#daiginjo #japanese #japanesesake #jizake #junmai #niigata #sake


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


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