Episode-75: Digital Kokushu Museum

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This past autumn, something really special came into being that all of our sake and shochu-loving listeners ought to appreciate.

A project that has been in-the-making for quite some time behind the scenes at the Japan Sake and Shochu Makers Association, the Digital Kokushu Museum offers a rather particular kind of glimpse into the ongoing evolution of tradition and culture of Japan’s iconic and long-celebrated koji-fermented beverages – sake, mirin, and shochu – collectively referred to (occasionally) as, kokushu.

Should you find yourself with the opportunity to visit some of the many sake breweries and shochu distilleries scattered across Japan, you’ll find that nearly each and every one has rooms (and sometimes entire buildings) brimming with sake and shochu-related artifacts, from retro advertisements and signboards, to vintage glassware and merch, and even volumes upon volumes of historical texts. The true nature of most of the content stashed away, however, is often a mystery even to the owners, as there’s just too much to sift through. It’s amazing when you consider the prospect of all that’s potentially out there, but as very little of it has been properly organized and catalogued, and because it’s all scattered to the winds across the island of Japan, very few people ever get the chance to encounter it, and even less an opportunity to appreciate it.

The Digital Kokushu Museum is a small, but significant step in taking centuries of both physical and digital paraphernalia representing the evolution of Japan’s kokushu culture and curating it into an easy-to-navigate and insightful digital format online.

With such a long, rich history, as well as vast pool of content to potentially draw from, we were curious as to how one would even begin to go about approaching such a daunting and gargantuan task, as well as determining how to then go about organizing and curating all that information. To find out, your hosts Marie Nagata and Justin Potts invited the project’s director and curator, Miho Ohta, to the show to share in the process, as well as the discoveries she and the team at JSS made along the way.

Thanks for tuning in again this week. Please feel free to leave us a review on Apple Podcasts or whatever service you rely upon for your podcasting needs. Contact us at questions@sakeonair.staba.jp with any thoughts about the show, and feel free to follow us on  InstagramTwitter, and Facebook. Everything from Sake Future Summit 2020, as well as a number of other recordings, are all archived over on our YouTube channel, as well.

We’ll be back with more Sake On Air for you in just a couple of weeks.
Until then, kampai!

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.