Episode-52: Pottery and Sake with Robert Yellin

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An exploration into the various types of drinking vessels and related wares that have for centuries shaped the service and enjoyment of sake is one of the most frequently requested show topics that we get.

That’s why this week we’re thrilled to (finally!) welcome Robert Yellin to the show.

Owner and curator of Robert Yellin Yakimono Gallery in the heart of Kyoto, over the past 30+ years Robert has dedicated himself to the exploration of the world of yakimono – literally “fired things,” referring specifically to Japanese pottery and ceramics – a life’s work that has made him one of the world’s leading non-Japanese experts in the field.

Robert’s expertise extends far beyond just the world of sake-related wares, however this week we hone in on an array of enthralling (and largely) sake-specific works, discussing history, types, regional styles, and more.

Conducting our interview at a distance via ZOOM, entirely by chance Robert was visited by an artisan colleague packing a suitcase of extraordinary works just as we began recording. If you notice a bit of banter in the background, that’s it. (We may have to try and get a short video segment from this recording up on our YouTube channel sometime in the coming weeks, as well…!)

When it comes to drinking, serving, and enjoying sake, there really is no “right” or “wrong” way to go about it. However, if you have the curiosity and access to explore, experiment and integrate the world of yakimono into your experience, it opens up an entirely new world as deep and enriching as the liquid itself. If this week’s visit with Robert doesn’t spark that interest, we don’t know what will.

Sebastien Lemoine, Rebekah Wilson-Lye and John Gauntner are piloting this week, with Justin Potts occasionally playing the role of the annoying backseat driver. Ready your tokkuri and settle in.  

We now have almost all of the sessions from Sake Future Summit 2020 conveniently compiled into a playlist on our official YouTube channel for your holiday enjoyment. If you missed out (and there are a few that YouTube cut from the primary recording), we’ve got you covered. The remainder should be up in time for the holidays.

Please leave us a review on Apple Podcasts, and reach out to us at questions@sakeonair.staba.jp if you have any questions, comments, thoughts, suggestions, or messages for us here at the show. You can follow us on  InstagramTwitter, and Facebook, or subscribe to us over on YouTube.

We’ll have a bit more Sake On Air for you before we close out 2020. Until then, have a happy and healthy sake and shochu-filled holiday. Thanks for joining us this year.


Sake On Air is made possible with the generous support of the Japan Sake & Shochu Makers Association and is broadcast from the Japan Sake & Shochu Information Center in Tokyo. The show is a co-production between Export Japan and Potts.K Productions, with audio production by Frank Walter.

Our theme, “Younger Today Than Tomorrow” was composed by forSomethingNew for Sake On Air.