News

A Message from Sake On Air

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Back in October of 2018 when we released the very first episode of Sake On Air, none of us had recorded or produced a podcast before, and there was no precedent for what a podcast about sake and shochu could or should be. At the time, the number resources with quality information about what sake is were both growing and improving – which was fantastic! So instead of retreading that same material, we set out with the goal of “expanding the dialogue around sake and shochu.”

Having a basic understanding of these incredible beverages and the common themes and terminology surrounding them is as important today as it was when we started. But given the geographical home of all of our hosts and our connections throughout the industry here in Japan, we felt that our role wasn’t only to inform our listeners as to what sake and shochu are, but to hopefully convey why it is they’re important and worth caring about. That’s why we emphasized the idea of “dialogue,” because to truly appreciate these magnificent beverages, we felt that engaging with a wide range of questions is equally – if not more – important than the so-called “answers”, and that the opportunity to examine the world of sake and shochu from a range of perspectives and appreciate the different values attributed to their beautiful complexity is what’s truly going to result in more individuals around the globe developing a life-long relationship with sake.  

We’d like to think that we’ve succeeded to certain degree in achieving fraction of that lofty goal that we initially set out for ourselves. We’re certainly proud of what we’ve put out into the world as Sake On Air, but we also recognize that there’s a great deal of work still to be done, as well as plenty of room for improvement to our formula.

Working on the show over the past 3.5 years, as a team we regularly discuss the nature of the work that we feel we ought to be engaging in, not only as a podcast, but as a team. Throughout that time the sake industry has grown significantly, but so has our crew. The lives and professional obligations and directions of each individual here at Sake On Air has morphed and evolved, and Sake On Air needs to not only grow together with our listeners, but also together with our dedicated hosts and production team. Over the years there have been a lot of ideas and ambitions that we’ve been unable to realize for one reason or another, however in order to continue to make the show meaningful, we feel that the show needs to evolve to reflect the growing needs of our listeners, the changes in the industry, and the motivations of our crew.

After a lot of discussing and planning internally, we’ve committed to making that transition, which is why the show will be going on just a brief hiatus.

At the time of this recording we’re unable to announce a specific date upon which the show will return to the airwaves, but rest assured, you won’t have to wait long. When the show does return, you likely won’t notice any big changes immediately. However, in the months that follow, you should start to get a feel for what it is we’re working toward. Up until now we were limited as to the scope and nature of projects that Sake On Air was able to engage in. Moving forward we’ll be able to further commit to offering not only the kind of programming that truly leverages our team’s unique position within the sake industry, but also opens up possibilities for a wider range of projects and partnerships that further utilize the skillsets, knowledge, and resources of our team, hopefully leading to more kinds of meaningful engagement with sake and shochu for more people here in Japan and around the world.

While the show is in downtime we’ll be continuing to share information across our social media channels, so we’d love it if you’d join us at @sakeonair on InstagramTwitter, and Facebook. As the relaunch of Sake On Air approaches, we’ll be keeping you informed about what to expect – and when – so be sure to stay tuned. In the meantime, feel free to send us your thoughts, ideas, and requests to questions@sakeonair.staba.jp. Let us know what you’ve appreciated from the show up to this point, where you think we can do better, and what you’d like to see from the show in the future. We have plenty of plans and ideas, but our plans mean nothing if they don’t also serve the needs of the people that have made the show possible over the past 3.5 years. Believe me, we’re listening.

Lastly, I just want to say a huge “Thank You” and extend a massive heartfelt “Kampai” to all of you listening out there that have regularly made time for Sake On Air as part of your love for, and exploration of, sake and shochu. Knowing that you’re out there and that our time and energy is contributing to your love of our favorite beverages is hands-down the most rewarding part of what we do.

Thanks again so much for all of your support, and your continued support, of Sake On Air. We’ll be back with more, brand new Sake On Air before you know it.

So stay tuned, and 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.

A Brewer’s Evolution with Mehdi Medhaffar

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We’ve welcomed more than an a few non-Japanese kurabito to the show in the past that have made sake brewing here in Japan their chosen path for a day or a lifetime. As the number of breweries integrating more diverse members into their workforce increases, it’s becoming difficult to keep track of the range of characters immersing themselves sake-driven careers here in the land of the rising sun.

This week’s guest, however, has been on our radar for some time. Having spent roughly a decade brewing at a diverse range of highly respected breweries across Japan, including Okazaki Shuzo (Nagano), Yoshida Shuzo (Shimane), Kamoizumi Shuzo (Hiroshima), Banjo Jozo / Kuheiji (Aichi), and now, Terada Honke (Chiba), Mehdi Alexandre Medhaffar has gradually been refining his craft while exploring the depth and breadth of his relationship with the beverage that’s become a pillar of his life and livelihood.

While Mehdi’s relatively recent transition to Terada Honke marks a very significant and personal change (which we discuss), his path to the present and his learnings along the way all contributed significantly to the development of his values in relation to this miraculous beverage that we celebrate. Sebastien Lemoine and Chris Hughes join Mehdi this week as he retraces his steps and recollects on how his life and evolution as a kurabito has inspired an evolution within himself.

For those interested in following along with Mehdi’s adventure, you can do so on Instagram at @nomad_sake_brewer.

Be sure to also keep tabs on Sake On Air over on InstagramTwitter, or Facebook, as well. Please also take a moment to leave us a review on Apple Podcasts or your favorite listening service, as it helps new sake lovers discover the show. Any additional comments and questions can be sent to us at questions@sakeonair.staba.jp.

We’ll be back with more Sake On Air in a couple of weeks.
Stay tuned, and 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.

Awamori with Maurice Dudley

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It’s been way too long since we’ve spent an entire episode dialing straight into the world of awamori. That’s why we’re thrilled that your host Christopher Pellegrini’s recent trip to Okinawa brought him together with Maurice Dudley, a man who has been slightly behind the scenes but at the absolute center of the concentrated efforts to bring the glory of awamori to spirits and cocktail connoisseurs throughout his hometown of Okinawa, as well as to regions across the globe.

Maurice is a literal veteran in Okinawa, now having called the islands of the Ryukyu Kingdom his home since the mid-90s. This week he tells us about how during his time stationed with the U.S. military motivated him to double-down on his time spent with the local community on the island and the dining and drinking customs that accompanied the experience, how his bar and trade operation Blue Habu is playing a critical role in allowing him to communicate his love of awamori, and he also discusses with us takeaways from his recent promotional tour across Europe sharing Ryukyu 1429, followed by his aspirations for the future of the category.  

We hope you’ll track down a bottle of awamori and pour yourself a glass (or several) and sip along with us for this personal and insightful interview. While you’re at it, follow along with Maurice and his Blue Habu exploits in Okinawa and beyond on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Be sure to also keep tabs on Sake On Air over on InstagramTwitter, or Facebook. Please also take a brief moment to leave us a review on Apple Podcasts or your favorite listening service, as well. Any additional comments and questions can be sent to us at questions@sakeonair.staba.jp.

We’ll be back with more Sake On Air in a couple of weeks.
Stay tuned, and 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.

Where Beer & Sake Collide

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We finally have a great excuse to discuss beer this week.

Despite a long history of (ongoing) misrepresentation as “rice wine” and the sake industry’s mild obsession with the wine world, we’re finally reaching a point where common sense (and basic science) have started to take hold. The result is a wider realization and acceptance that, when it comes to the act of brewing, sake exists in a place closer to the world of beer than that of wine. (That being said, don’t forget that sake is its own beast entirely!)

Those making beer, however, latched onto this long before the sake industry accepted it, as it has been beer breweries and homebrewers that helped lead the charge for commercial sake production outside of Japan, as well as the adoption of raw materials such as koji and sake yeast both domestically and internationally for applications in the beer-making process.

From a commercial standpoint, the space on the Venn diagram where sake and beer overlap used to be a mere sliver, however in recent years that surface area has grown, with more and more beer breweries borrowing ingredients from the sake world, along with more and more sake breweries collaborating with beer breweries and producing a range of products that likely no one had predicted even a decade ago.

This week your regular host Justin Potts is joined by president of Bright Wave Media, Ry Beville, who is the publisher of both Sake Today, the world’s first English-language sake-specific magazine, as well as Japan Beer Times, the entirely bilingual publication exploring the ins-and-outs of Japan’s beer industry. Together with Ry we look at the historical development of Japan’s beer industry, how the evolution influenced the relationship between sake and beer, how both sake and beer breweries are working together today, and what we might expect from both of these worlds in the not-so-distant future.

You can follow along with Ry’s contributions to the worlds of beer and sake below.

Instagram:
@japanbeertimes
@saketoday

Twitter:
@JapanBeerTimes
@SakeToday

Web:
Japan Beer Times: https://japanbeertimes.com/
Sake Today: https://www.saketoday.com/

Be sure to keep tabs on Sake On Air over on InstagramTwitter, or Facebook, as well. Those keen to revisit the Sake Future Summit can do so here on our YouTube channel. Please also take a brief moment to leave us a review on Apple Podcasts or your favorite listening service. Any additional comments and questions can be sent to us at questions@sakeonair.staba.jp.

We’ll be back with more Sake On Air next week.
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.

Restoring Tradition: Kame Brewing with Yucho Shuzo

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In Part 1 of this special two-part series visiting the producers reviving the lost art of kamejikomi, we spoke with Ken Kojima of Kojima Sohonten, makers of Toko sake in Yamagata Prefecture.

This week we travel to the town of Gose in Nara Prefecture to chat with Chobei Yamamoto who represents 13 generations of sake-making at Yucho Shuzo, best known for their sake brand, Kaze no Mori. Yamamoto-san has not only reinstated the use of traditional kame earthenware pots into brewing, but he’s restored and reconstructed an entirely new brewery committed to traditional brewing practices utilizing kamejikomi.

Having been dormant for the past 100 years, the new Kyoho Kura is dedicated entirely to the new soon-to-be-released Mizuhana brand sake. Mizuhana sake is not only brewed in traditional kame, but is also made in-line with traditional brewing recipes from start to finish. In this episode, Yamamoto-san gives us a bit of background into the role of Nara and the temple brewing that took place there which laid the groundwork for modern sake brewing, communicating why it makes so much sense for Yucho Shuzo to be dedicating the resources it has to these all-but-lost brewing traditions.

You can learn more about Yucho Shuzo and Kaze no Mori here, as well as follow along with their work, their sake, and exploits in brewing and agriculture on Instagram at @kazenomori1719.

Be sure to keep tabs on Sake on Air over on InstagramTwitter, or Facebook, as well. Please take a moment to leave us a review on Apple Podcasts or your favorite listening service. Any additional comments and questions can be sent to us at questions@sakeonair.staba.jp.

We’ll be back with more Sake on Air next week.
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.

Restoring Tradition: Kame Brewing with Kojima Sohonten

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Back in Episode 51 we explored the hard work being invested in restoring kioke, the large-scale traditional wooden tanks that transformed sake brewing in the Edo Period. Thanks to the hard work of many, supply can’t keep up with demand and as more and more breweries are wanting to reintegrate kioke back into their brewing practices and more woodworking craftsman are stepping up to learn the craft.

But brewing using kame has been completely abandoned for (probably) at least the past couple hundred years; that is until now.

As with the historical vessels commonly used for brewing during more primitive times in cultures all around the world, earthen ware pots, or kame, were long the standard containers where fermentation took place. Having been retired entirely following the development of the craftsmanship that led to larger wooden tanks and vessels that allowed brewers to significantly scale production, kamejikomi – brewing in earthenware pots – long ago became a thing of the past.

But in hopes of restoring brewing traditions, as well as the craftsmanship and lessons associated with them, a pair of breweries have recently managed to bring kamejikomi back to life in their respective kura. Across a pair of episodes featuring these respective breweries, we’ll hear about how this exciting challenge is being realized at a time when there’s still no real precedent in recent history.

In this episode, we’ll be hearing from Ken Kojima who represents 24 generations of Kojima Sohonten, makers of Toko brand sake, as well as both the Retsu and Kojimaya labels. Tune in to learn how it is that one of the oldest breweries in Japan decided to make a brewing dream a reality in their beautiful winter wonderland of Yonezawa in Yamagata Prefecture.

You can read more about Kojima Sohonten in this recent piece over at Japan Today, as well as follow along with the world of Toko Sake on Instagram at @toko_sake.

Don’t forget to follow along with Sake on Air over on InstagramTwitter, or Facebook, as well. You can also leave us a review on Apple Podcasts or your favorite listening service. Any additional comments and questions can be sent to us at questions@sakeonair.staba.jp.

We’ll be back with Part 2 of this special series that will feature Yucho Shuzo, the makers of Kaze no Mori, before you know it.

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.

Kubota: Building and Sustaining an Iconic Label

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Last week we focused our energy on examining the Niigata region as a whole. This week we’re once again joined by our same guests, Ms. Kaoru Ito and Mr. Hiroshi Nagamoto from the Overseas Business Department of Asahi Shuzo Sake Brewing Company, makers of Kubota, to delve into the ubiquitous brand of sake almost synonymous with the region of Niigata and celebrated not only in its home territory of Nagaoka, but also throughout Japan and by sake lovers and connoisseurs across the globe.

Instead of focusing heavily on the flavor and stylistic profile of Kubota (hint: we already know it’s good) or a lot of the technical minutiae that goes into differentiating it from other established tanrei karakuchi competitors, we wanted to instead take some time to examine the context behind which such an iconic brand initially came into being, how it developed, the ways in which it’s managed to sustain its relevancy amidst a turbulent industry, and how the team behind Kubota plans to chart their future both domestically and abroad.

Whether it’s casually name-dropping “Niigata” in the context of “major sake producing regions” or ordering a glass of Kubota almost without thinking because of its established consistency and reliability, we recognize that many of the components of sake stories such as these are often almost taken for granted, when in reality, a lot of us haven’t really had the opportunity to commit the time to really internalizing why it is that certain names and places have the prominence that they do. While there’s still infinitely more detail that demands exploring, we thought that by taking a step back to examine Niigata through a lens of experience alongside the people that have been helping carry the torch for the region for generations, we might be able to meaningfully begin scratching the surface. Putting this pair of episodes together has been an exciting and insightful exercise for all of us here at Sake On Air. We hope you enjoy it too.

For those curious to follow along with the latest happenings in the land of Kubota, any of the links below are would be a great place to start.

Asahi Shuzo Sake Brewing Co., Ltd. – Official Website (English)
https://www.asahi-shuzo.co.jp/global/

Asahi Shuzo Sake Brewing Company – Official Facebook Page (English)
https://www.facebook.com/KubotaJapaneseSake

Asahi Shuzo Sake Brewing Company – Official Instagram (Japanese)
https://www.instagram.com/asahi_shuzo_jp/

As always, you can follow along with our shenanigans here at Sake On Air via InstagramTwitter, or Facebook. Please also be sure to leave us a review on Apple Podcasts or your favorite podcatcher service, as well. Any additional comments and questions can be sent to us at questions@sakeonair.staba.jp.

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

roadcast 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.

Examining Niigata Sake

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There’s really no such thing as an “inferior” region for sake production in Japan. A particular region may boast more breweries, higher production volume, or more acreage dedicated to a popular rice variety, but you really aren’t going to struggle to find great sake being made just about anywhere on the island. (In fact, there’s a reasonable argument to support the idea that some of the nation’s most exciting sake is born in some of the less-talked-about regions).

Despite that, there are a handful of regions that have been elevated to a particular pedestal, consistently short-listed in the conversation around premier sake-producing regions. One of those that gets name-checked without fail, is Niigata.

To fully explore the depth and complexity of this exceptional region in a manner that would paint a complete and accurate picture, from its historical significance through its modern evolution, would require masterclass of epic proportions. Instead of waiting for that to come to fruition, we thought we’d at least begin laying to groundwork by offering a broad, overarching perspective, followed by a profile of one of the labels that has become nearly synonymous with the region.

For the next two episodes we’re joined by Ms. Kaoru Ito and Mr. Hiroshi Nagamoto, both from the Overseas Business Department of Asahi Shuzo Sake Brewing Company based in Nagaoka, located in central Niigata, makers of the iconic Kubota brand sake. (Careful, as there are more than a handful of sake breweries that share the name Asahi Shuzo, each exceptional in their own right).

This week we focus on the characteristics that make Niigata uniquely equipped to deliver on the promise that comes attached with the name. In addition to historical and geographical factors, we also look at local training, education, and technical development resources that have contributed to the region’s explosive growth over the past 50 years, as well as the elements that came together to give birth to the style of sake that’s become synonymous with the region – tanrei karakuchi – what that has done for the region’s development of technical prowess and notoriety amongst consumers, and how the future of the region’s sake might be better defined by another term: Niigata Tanrei.

We touch lightly upon Asahi Shuzo Sake Brewing and the Kubota label, but we’ll dig into that in more detail in the week ahead. For this week, we lean upon the team with the deep connections and understanding of the elements at play that have cultivated one of Japan’s most celebrated sake regions, in hopes of providing a bit of context for how it came to be elevated to where it rests today and why we shouldn’t count the region out for its potential role in mapping the future of sake.

For those looking to start studying for the week ahead, or who are curious as to what Kubota and Asahi Shuzo Sake Brewing Co. are up to, you can learn more at the links below.

Asahi Shuzo Sake Brewing Co., Ltd. – Official Website (English)
https://www.asahi-shuzo.co.jp/global/

Asahi Shuzo Sake Brewing Company – Official Facebook Page (English)
https://www.facebook.com/KubotaJapaneseSake

Asahi Shuzo Sake Brewing Company – Official Instagram (Japanese)
https://www.instagram.com/asahi_shuzo_jp/

As always, you can follow along with our shenanigans here at Sake On Air via InstagramTwitter, or Facebook. Please also be sure to leave us a review on Apple Podcasts or your favorite podcatcher service, as well. Any additional comments and questions can be sent to us at questions@sakeonair.staba.jp.

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

roadcast 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.

Ginjo: Beneath the Surface

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Ginjo is king.

Or at least, that’s kind of been a mantra for several generations of more than a few sake lovers, makers, and advocates. Looking at the numbers in recent years, some have dubbed this the current era to be the era of junmai ginjo. (Straight-up ginjo has been faltering a bit, however).

Sake classified in the ginjo stratum today aren’t the same as that of yesteryear, and if the depictions of the style further permeating the market today are any indication, ginjo-classified sake will likely be a bit different tomorrow, as well. As the styles of ginjo-classified sake and other classifications evolve, we thought it would be worthwhile to remind ourselves (and listeners) exactly what it is we’re talking about when we talk about ginjo.

This week John Gauntner has brought Rebekah Wilson-Lye and Sebastien Lemoine to the party to discuss the above and a whole more. We hope you’ll pour a glass of something ginjo-esque and join us.

After listening, share with us your own ginjo-related experiences over on InstagramTwitter, or Facebook. When you’re done with that, you can go ahead and leave us a review on Apple Podcasts or your favorite listening service, as well. Any additional comments and questions can be sent to us at questions@sakeonair.staba.jp.

We’ll be back with more Sake On Air again before you know it.

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.

Our 2022 Predictions

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Another year, another chance to set ourselves up for failure with a series of wild predictions!

This year the team has independently put together their own lists of predictions and expectations for what the worlds of sake and shochu may have in store for 2022. Intentionally, we haven’t shared or discussed our views with one another in advance in some attempt to produce any “best” answer, so what you hear is a reflection of what each of us is seeing and feeling based upon our own views and experiences.

Will there be any reoccurring themes? Should you anticipate any new or unprecedented movements? Is 2022 going to fulfill trends and promises that have begun to suggest themselves in recent years? Nothing is for certain, but it’s a fun exercise nonetheless.

After listening, be sure to share your own insights and expectations for the year ahead with us over on InstagramTwitter, or Facebook. When you’re done with that, you can go ahead and leave us a review on Apple Podcasts or your favorite podcatcher service, as well. We’ll be eternally grateful. Any additional comments and questions can be sent to us at questions@sakeonair.staba.jp.

Note that the views expressed by everyone on this show are those of the individual and don’t necessarily reflect the thoughts and opinions of the Japan Sake & Shochu Makers Association, any particular brewery, distillery or industry-related organization. Our thoughts are our own, which is part of what makes this fun.

We hope everyone’s 2022 is off to a happy and healthy start and that the year ahead is filled with delicious sake and shochu (in moderation).

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.

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.

Okawari: Water, Food, and Terroir

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A lot of the interview material from our episodes here at Sake on Air winds up on the cutting room floor, but some of it is just too good to let go to waste. With our Okawari series, we raise our glass for a second round of information and insight from our past guest interviews and serendipitous encounters that we just didn’t get enough of the first time around.

This week’s Okawari welcomes back three very special guests, each touching upon topics that took place as part of our previous discussions that were equally as fascinating as the original theme of their respective shows, however because the topics covered stretched beyond the scope of the show at that time we couldn’t manage to get that material on air – until now.

First up is Ayako Yamaguchi, who joined us for Episode 55 in order to discuss Fushimi Sake. At the time of the show, because Fushimi was the topic at-hand we kept the content focused as-such, however when discussing Fushimi, it’s impossible to leave out the impact of and relationship with two other neighboring sake producing powerhouses: Nada and Itami. In this segment, Ayako shares with us a bit of historical context surrounding this relationship between this sake-making trifecta of the Kansai region, as well as discusses the challenges of researching for such deep and vast historical topics.

Next, we’re rejoined by Water, Wood and Wild Things author, Hannah Kirshner from Episode 58. Seeing as how we are a show about sake (and shochu), much of the content from that interview that made it on air were discussions centered more directly around sake-specific references and experiences outlined in her book, where her time with Shishi no Sato producer, Matsuura Shuzo, is a significant component. However, Hannah’s book is about a great deal more than sake, and to fully appreciate the role of sake both in the book, as well as in general, it’s really many of those seemingly peripheral components that are, actually, just as central. In this part of the interview, Hannah shares with us her relationship with food and cooking as a part of her life in Yamanaka and how that manifested itself the book, we discuss the wonderful range of expressions for the word “water” and the similarities between the worlds of tea and sake, and she shares with us how her ever-present role as an author documenting her experience was received as a component of her life in the countryside.

Lastly, we once again hear from Xavier Thuizat, who joined us back on Episode 53 to share with us the process of developing and hosting the world class sake competition that is Kura Master. That story in and of itself is a fascinating one, which is why we kept the focus on it for that episode, however Xavier had some very provocative food for thought when the topic of terroir came up in relation to sake. Tune in to hear about how he considers an emphasis on excessive rice polishing to be a challenge to expressions of authenticity in sake, how the dependance upon specific yeast strains is destroying the soul of sake, and why Geographical Indications (GI) could play an important role in actually simplifying the communication surrounding sake while contributing to communicating the inherent values of the beverage.

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 next time, 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.

Holiday Drinks

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Although this particular holiday season may prove to be somewhat of an exception for some – much in the way that many of us assumed 2020 to be an exception – for many people around the world the year winding down and a new year ramping up tends to be a long-awaited opportunity to gather and spend a bit more time with family, friends and colleagues. A natural extension of this is, for many, also a welcome opportunity to open a few bottles of something special that they’ve been hanging on to, or put just a bit more thought into what to open for whom and for what occasion. In doing so, it’s a great opportunity to extend yourself just a tad – within safe and healthy means, of course – in order to sip some more variety than you may be accustomed to when tied to more of a routine throughout the rest of the year.

As such, in addition to the range of holiday classics, we here at Sake On Air see this as a wonderful season of opportunity, not only to sample some fantastic new sake and shochu, but to proactively share these stellar beverages with friends and family and establish some all new holiday classics of your own.

So this week, Justin rang up each and every member of the team to find out what their sake and shochu routines and go-to drinks and drinking styles are for the season, as well as find out if they have any special drink plans or suggestions for the weeks ahead. Naturally, depending upon where it is you call home is going to determine your access to different styles of shochu and sake, so your mileage with some of the team’s suggestions might vary, but we thought it would be a fun opportunity to share a bit of our holiday season with all of our listeners, even if only in voice and in spirit.

02:20 — John Gauntner & Chris Pellegrini
13:44 — Marie Nagata & Chris Hughes
22:40 — Cindy Bissig & Sebastien Lemoine
48:43 — Rebekah Wilson-Lye & Shuso Imada

Thanks for tuning in this week. Please 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’d like to wish all of our listeners, followers, fans and supporters both new and old a very happy and healthy holiday season, however it is you may choose to spend it and wherever it is you may be tuning in from. We’ll be back with one more episode to close out the year in a couple of weeks, but until then, a very happy holidays and a festive kampai to all of you from the team here at Sake On Air.

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.

Future of Sake with Les Larmes du Levant & Kanpai London

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Seeing as how we haven’t featured any of our esteemed sake brewing revolutionist friends on the European continent recently, we thought it was about time we check in. This week we’re joined by Tom Wilson, co-founder and head brewer at Kanpai in London, as well as Grégoire Boeuf, kuramoto at Les Larmes du Levant, located in Pélusin, France.

While often loosely lumped into the same category, both brewing (excellent) sake on the same continent, the approaches and philosophies of these two breweries, as well as their experiences in getting established, growing, and also working through the ups and downs of the past couple of years are entirely unique to themselves and their individual scenarios.

Both Grégoire and Tom share with us a bit about the early days getting started and the initial motivations for making the leap into the sake world, but also open up about their thoughts (and actions) surrounding a vast range of topics, including the overall communication of the sake category, the honest nature of the sake brewery, challenges with taxes and regulation for sake in Europe, the balance between honoring tradition and the importance of creative freedom, and how getting back to basics and doubling down on quality and meaningful work has been a savior in times of trial.

Sebastien Lemoine and Justin Potts are now highly motivated to figure out how to execute a Sake On Air European Tour following this enjoyable and insightful session. Each of these breweries deserve their own feature, so we’ll definitely be sitting down with this week’s guests again in the future – hopefully in person – while continuing our exploration of the sake brewing landscape across Europe and beyond.

Be sure to follow along with the exciting endeavors of @kanpailondon and  @larmesdulevant as well.

Thanks for tuning in this week. You can 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 in two weeks with plenty more Sake On Air.

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.

Three-year Anniversary Special

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On October 18th, way back in the distant past that was 2018, we released the first official episode of Sake On Air. Exactly three years to the day, we got the entire crew together to commemorate and celebrate (virtually) along with our listeners and supporters  from across the globe.

Back at the end of September we still weren’t sure what we would be able to do in order to share this special occasion. The Japan Sake and Shochu Information Center still wasn’t able to host and serve sake or shochu, the same being true for bars and dining establishments across most of Japan. We were at the tail end of what was essentially an extended ban on the service of alcohol extending back into mid-summer, a move that surprised everyone.

So when word got out at that from early October we were going to be able to share a space – and a drink or two – we scrambled to make it happen. It was a bit short notice, but we wanted to share that time with all of you out there that have been listening, following, and supporting the show throughout these past three years.

For those that would like a visual component to this week’s episode, we did indeed livestream the get-together on both YouTube and Facebook. Due to a few technical hiccups it’s a black screen for a majority of the time up through about the 28:00-minute mark (our apologies), but there are some great tidbits of insight and food-for-thought during that time as well, so do listen in.

Thanks to the incredible support of the Japan Sake & Shochu Makers Association for believing in our vision back when sake-related podcasting ceased to exist, we’ve been able to gradually grow and develop Sake On Air into a show that shares not only the stories and information related to sake and shochu, but also the people and the joy that the community surrounding these incredible beverages have brought to all of our lives for so many years. To be able to share just a fraction of that with all of our listeners has been an absolute honor.

But it doesn’t stop here! We’ve got plenty in the works for year four and beyond. Stay with us and we’ll keep on bringing you all of the sake, shochu and awamori goodness that you’re looking for – and then some.

To all of our listeners we send a massive heartfelt ‘Arigato’ and enthusiastic ‘Kampai’ from the entire team here at Sake On Air.  

We’ll be back again in two weeks.

Until then, Kampai!

Feel free to leave us a review on Apple Podcasts or whatever service you rely upon for your podcasting needs. You can 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.

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.