News

Sake Travel Episode 5: Kyoto with the Sake Concierge

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“My life in Kyoto is my life in sake.”

Those few words from this week’s guest, Sake Concierge Takashi “Umio” Eguchi, rather appropriately and succinctly sum up why it is we were so excited to have him join us to explore such an iconic sake region.

Author of the excellent tasting notes for The Japanese Sake Bible, host of his insightful YouTube tasting series and the accompanying Sake Concierge website, as well as hosting a wide range of tasting events and tours throughout Kyoto and the surrounding regions exploring the finer details of sake, Umio’s love and appreciation for his home of Kyoto is palpable.

Note, however, that while this week’s show does indeed touch upon the greater Kyoto region just a bit, as often happens, the Fushimi region pretty much steals the show this week. Which is fine, as there’s never enough time that can be dedicated to this iconic area. (Those keen to dig deeper can revisit Episode 55, or John’s interview with Gekkeikan from the Sake Future Summit, as well). Rest assured, we’ll be back to Kyoto again – and again, and again… 

Another exciting component of this week’s show is that we’ve finally got our often behind-the-scenes, ever-traveling social media supervisor (and co-host of Sake Unplugged), Cindy Bissig taking a turn in the interviewer seat!

And one more thing: as you’ll hear at the top of the episode, Sake Future Summit is coming back! Tune-in for info on dates and times and be sure to follow along for more details as they materialize.

For that, along with plenty more sake and shochu updates, follow along with us at @sakeonair on InstagramTwitter, and Facebook, or if you’d like to share your thoughts or questions with the hosts, please reach out to us at questions@sakeonair.com.

We’ll be back with more Sake On Air 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 recorded and broadcast from the Japan Sake & Shochu Information Center in Tokyo. The show is brought to you by Potts.K Productions with audio production by Frank Walter. Our theme, “Younger Today Than Tomorrow” was composed by forSomethingNew for Sake On Air.

Taste with the Toji & Simone Maynard

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As much as this week’s episode is informative, it’s also a bit of a celebration.

Simone Maynard (aka: Sake Mistress) has been a dedicated, hard-working evangelist spreading the good word of sake in her native home of Australia for years. That was until the spring of 2020 sent any and all opportunity to congregate around a bottle of nihonshu to a screeching halt. Unable to sit idly by while Japan’s breweries’ sales slumped and sake-inspired communities seemed to gradually dissolve, she launched Taste with the Toji, a weekly online community bringing sake lovers and sake-curious into the virtual room living room’s of sake breweries throughout Japan. What began as an experiment in hopes of at least managing to do something rather than nothing while being stuck in one of the most restrictively locked down regions of Australia, that experiment organically evolved into a nearly weekly gathering that is now approaching its 100th session as of this recording.

Managing to cultivate a sake-centric community that incorporated a vast range of Japan’s most inspiring breweries and dedicated sake-driven followers eagerly tuning in each week for new sake discoveries and to check in with new and old friends alike, Taste with the Toji has become an international sake-lovers’ virtual watering hole that a diverse and ever-growing community not only takes part in, but also contributes to.

For a number of reasons outside of her control, despite extensive and incessant communication with breweries and community members supporting her work from Japan, the Sake Mistress was unable to venture back to the sake homeland until September 2022. Thanks to her thoughtful and dedicated engagement with the world of sake, her return marked both an inauguration and a celebration, as she was honored the with the prestigious title of Sake Samurai.

For this week’s episode, we interview Simone in front of a live audience, digging into her personal sake story, but also discussing her experience with the evolution of Taste with the Toji while distanced from Japan but connected through community at a distance over the past 2+ years, how it feels to be back on the island after so long for an entirely unexpected (but well-deserved) honor, and how she’s thinking about her sake path ahead.

For some of our listeners, this episode may come across as a bit “inside baseball.” That’s because the live audience gathered for this week’s recording is comprised of individuals that have been either dedicated followers or contributors (most often both) to the Taste with the Toji community over the past couple of years. An endeavor intrinsically interwoven into Japan’s sake landscape, the support of many individuals based here on the island have been a critical component fueling what Taste with the Toji has grown into. For many, this was the first chance to meet in person, celebrating the work of an inspiring Sake Mistress and an opportunity to raise an ochoko together in real life.

This was a rather special session that we all enjoyed a great deal. We hope that all of our listeners enjoy it as much as we did.

We’re as busy as ever at @sakeonair over on InstagramTwitter, and Facebook. If you’re curious to know what the cast and crew of Sake On Air are up to or awaiting hints about what we’ve got coming down the pipeline, be sure to follow along with any or all of the above. If you’d like to share your thoughts or questions with the hosts, please reach out to us at questions@sakeonair.com.

We’ll be back in a couple of weeks with 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 brought to you by Potts.K Productions with audio production by Frank Walter. Our theme, “Younger Today Than Tomorrow” was composed by forSomethingNew for Sake On Air.

Sake Travel Episode 4: Niigata City

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We’re continuing on our Sake Travel series this week with a visit to the city of Niigata. While the entire prefecture of Niigata is littered with fantastic sake destinations, we’ve decided to narrow the scope just a bit and save our explorations into the greater region for another day. That being said, we’ve dabbled in Nagaoka and Sado Island as part of our previous episodes, which are you can tune into now if you’re seeking a deeper exploration into the larger region right this minute.

In order to help us do this great city justice we’ve recruited Tomomi Duquette to the show this week, founder and director of Niigata Sake Lovers, not to mention a prolific educator and navigator throughout the larger world of sake in general.

In this week’s discussion we more-or-less arrived at the conclusion that a visit to Niigata should start (and end) with a visit to Tabi Bar and Ponshukan – both located right inside Niigata Station – but where you go from there is really up to you.

When it comes to drinks and dining we touch upon Furumachi Jikon, Bit, Armonia, Ponshu Girl, Suzuki Sengyoten (for the early-risers), Minato Sushi, and more. If you’re in town at the right time, there’s Furumachi Burarizake (Furumachi Pub/Izakaya Crawl), the (in)famous sake festival, Sake no Jin, and the recent Niigata brewing industry mainstay, the Niigata Jozo (Brewing) Summit.

For those looking to explore the wider world of Niigata brewing and beverage, spending a night in the neighboring fermentation town of Nuttari is a must, not to mention the ever-growing Niigata Wine Country and the enjoyment of Japan’s first craft beer brewery, along with a handful of other great local beer producers.

For sake brewery tours, Imayotsukasa is an easy (and highly recommended) visit, as well as DHC for its hospitality and welcoming setup at Kayamatei tasting room and cafe. The brand new doburoku-centric producer (and café), Lagoon Brewery, is new entry making an impact thanks to its great sake and beautiful location.

If you’re looking for something on your way in (or out) of town, we touch on a few sake-centric or heavily sake-influenced excursions, including Kamosu Mori and the surrounding onsen region (not to mention Tomomi’s new brewery project), or a visit to Tsubame Sanjo to explore the insane level of craftsmanship in metal working, producing some of the world’s most sought after culinary knives and the most inspiring copper wares north of the equator.

Niigata is incredibly accessible, yet still resting firmly in Hidden Gem status. As much as we’d like to keep it all to ourselves, we thought you deserved to enjoy it as much as we do on your next visit to Japan.

For more sake explorations and regional adventures, follow along with us at @sakeonair on InstagramTwitter, and Facebook, or if you’d like to share your thoughts or questions with the hosts, please reach out to us at questions@sakeonair.com. We’ll be back with more Sake On Air 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 recorded and broadcast from the Japan Sake & Shochu Information Center in Tokyo. The show is brought to you by Potts.K Productions with audio production by Frank Walter. Our theme, “Younger Today Than Tomorrow” was composed by forSomethingNew for Sake On Air.

Sake Travel Episode 3: Hokkaido

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For this third installment of our Sake Travel Series, we’re heading north – way north!

More commonly associated with some of the best skiing and snowboarding on the planet, extravagant snow festivals, expansive landscapes unlike anywhere else in Japan, and a wholly unique and celebrated culture rooted in the livelihood of the Ainu people spanning centuries, it’s fair to say that Hokkaido was really only added to the sake map relatively recently.

But what an incredible trajectory Hokkaido sake is on. From the rapid development of breweries across the territory by Kamikawa Taisetsu, to the unprecedented brewery relocation of Michizakura to the region, and the almost overnight transformation into a rice-cultivating powerhouse, Hokkaido is being looked to as a vision for the future of sake.

To help you chart that vision this week are your hosts John Gauntner, Cindy Bissig, and Chris Hughes. From local stories and history to exciting brewery developments and a few suggestions on places to check out for some exceptional sake discoveries, we’ve got you covered.

For more info on Hokkaido and other regional adventures, follow along with us at @sakeonair on InstagramTwitter, and Facebook, or if you’d like to share your thoughts or questions with the hosts, please reach out to us at questions@sakeonair.com.

We’ll be back with more Sake On Air 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 recorded and broadcast from the Japan Sake & Shochu Information Center in Tokyo. The show is brought to you by Potts.K Productions with audio production by Frank Walter. Our theme, “Younger Today Than Tomorrow” was composed by forSomethingNew for Sake On Air.

Unfiltered September 2022

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In August we gave you a taste of our new Sake Travel series, which we’ll be returning to again here shortly.

This week, however, we’ve got the first in what will be another new ongoing series: Unfiltered.

New things are happening all the time in and around the sake and shochu industries that are noteworthy and impactful. As individuals living-with-sake, we’re also constantly having a range of new experiences that are being impacted by the constantly evolving worlds of sake and shochu.

We wanted a good excuse to bring our hosts – and occasional guests – together to not only inform our listeners of some of the industry’s more significant news and developments, but also provide a bit of context, sharing our own personal thoughts, experiences, and insights along the way. We may (likely) just chat on sake-related things that just happen to be on our mind, as well.

This week your hosts Rebekah Wilson-Lye, Chris Hughes, and Justin Potts sit down to discuss:
・The underrecognized impact that catching COVID has on those in the food and beverage industry.
・The possibility of a (nearly) fully open Japan in the not-so-distant future.
・The National Tax Agency’s less-than-perfectly executed campaign to “get more young people to drink”.
・The establishment of the Japan Craft Sake Brewers Association and how it reflects (and challenges) current industry regulations while striving to broaden the category.

We had a lot more to discuss, but will be saving it for a future Unfiltered episode. Let us know what you think of this new series format by following along and sharing with us at @sakeonair on InstagramTwitter, and Facebook. You can share questions and ideas for future Unfiltered discussion topics by reaching out to us at questions@sakeonair.com.

Somehow, sake and shochu taste (even more) exceptional this time of year.
Enjoy (responsibly) and kampai!

Sake On Air is made possible with the generous support of the Japan Sake & Shochu Makers Association and is recorded and broadcast from the Japan Sake & Shochu Information Center in Tokyo. The show is brought to you by Potts.K Productions with audio production by Frank Walter. Our theme, “Younger Today Than Tomorrow” was composed by forSomethingNew for Sake On Air.

Sake Travel Episode 2: Nagano

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In case you missed it, last week we kicked off a new mini-series in Osaka. This week, together with hosts John Gauntner, Rebekah Wilson-Lye, and Chris Hughes, we’re off to Nagano!

Despite being Japan’s only entirely landlocked prefecture, sharing a border with 8 different prefectures gives the region with 2nd most breweries in Japan some wild diversity. Being a rather short and easy trip from Tokyo gives it some great accessibility. Together, the newly-minted Geographical Indication of Nagano makes for a no-brainer when it comes to sake travel.

Despite this being a travel-centric episode, this week’s show is additionally packed with regional sake facts and is a fantastic primer on the region as a whole. From a breakdown on regional rice varieties and yeast types to local styles, an examination of local regional differences to unique food culture, the group’s combined sake knowledge and clear love for Nagano makes this episode a resource worth bookmarking for future reference.

Beautiful (and dangerous) festivals, massive sake events, excellent museums, favorite sake picks, great brewery visits, world-class lodging and dining, sake therapy, and more, this week the crew goes over this gorgeous region with a fine-tooth comb, demonstrating exactly why Nagano deserves its place near the top of the sake pyramid and a significant chunk of time on your next Japan itinerary.

For more info on Nagano and other regional adventures, follow along with us at @sakeonair on InstagramTwitter, and Facebook, or if you’d like to share your thoughts or questions with the hosts, please reach out to us at questions@sakeonair.com.

We’ll be off to a new destination next week.
Until then, kampai!

Sake On Air is made possible with the generous support of the Japan Sake & Shochu Makers Association and is recorded and broadcast from the Japan Sake & Shochu Information Center in Tokyo. The show is brought to you by Potts.K Productions with audio production by Frank Walter. Our theme, “Younger Today Than Tomorrow” was composed by forSomethingNew for Sake On Air.

Sake Travel Episode 1: Osaka

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We’re kicking off a new semi-ongoing series this week!

Over the course of the past couple of years, in a world where international visitors have been largely restricted from entering Japan, we’ve been repeatedly getting a specific type of show topic request: sake travel.

For those that have been used to visiting Japan on relatively frequent occasion but have had their regular visits rudely interrupted, many are keen to make the most of their long-awaited return once they are finally permitted to make the trip.

For many others that have yet to tick Japan off of their bucket list, we’ve been contacted by a lot of listeners looking to remedy that as soon as they’re able, and make the most of their sake experiences here on the islands in the process.

In a world where the results of a Google search are often treated as the “best answer” to a majority of the world’s unanswered questions, a lot of the most accessible and exceptional sake experiences to be had all across Japan have yet to bubble to the surface. For this series, we decided to bring together regular Sake On Air hosts that have both passion for, and experience with specific regions of Japan, together with long-time locals and specialists in local travel, dining, and of course, sake, to offer our listeners some tips on how to go about making the most of their next sake journey in Japan.

To kick things off this week, show host Justin Potts is joined by long-time resident, musician, Sake Industry News editor, tour guide, and all-around exceptional sake advocate, Julian Houseman, to explore his home court in and around Osaka. Whether it’s taking advantage of your proximity to the legendary Nada and Itami regions and some of their iconic breweries, finding appreciation for the underappreciated Ikeda region, shopping for exceptional sake at legendary retailers like Yamanaka Sakenomise or Asano Nihonshuten, or running out to the suburbs for a visit to Daimon Brewery, Julian has more than a few suggestions for good times and great gastronomic discoveries in one of Japan’s most boisterous culinary metropolises.

As Julian mentions at the end of the episode, be sure to keep an eye out for his article introducing some Osaka’s must-visit sake bars run by exceptional okami-san in an upcoming issue of Sake Today.

You can continue to follow along with our own sake adventures at @sakeonair on InstagramTwitter, and Facebook, or if you’d like to share your thoughts or questions with the hosts, please reach out to us at questions@sakeonair.com.

We’ll be back next week for a visit to the next destination in our Sake Travel series.
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 brought to you by Potts.K Productions with audio production by Frank Walter. Our theme, “Younger Today Than Tomorrow” was composed by forSomethingNew for Sake On Air.

Back on Air Livestream

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Back on Air Livestream

We can’t believe it has been nearly 4 months since our last “official” show release. Even though it was part of the plan, we’re now getting a bit stir-crazy. It’s time to get back on air.

For those that missed it, we got most of the gang together at the JSS Information Center for a livestream back on July 29th. For those of you that missed it, we’ve cleaned up the audio and made it buttery smooth for your podcast-listening pleasure this week. If, however, you’re keen to take in the show in its entirety along with the all-too-rare visual component, you can watch that on our YouTube channel here. (Feel free to subscribe while you’re at it, as well).

This week Sebastien Lemoine, Christopher Pellegrini, Rebekah Wilson-Lye, Chris Hughes, Cindy Bissig, and Justin Potts all pull up a seat at the bar to:

Kampai! (2:56)
Share stories from (up and) down time (7:50)
Ponder the significance of Justin’s beverage selection (26:18)
Consider our cloudy reunion (30:28)
Soak up Big Chris’ haiku skills (31:03)
Double down on doburoku (36:57)
Announce new shochu regulations (47:50)
Inquire about snazzy gentleman attire (48:56)
Fire off an industry trend lightning round (51:14)
Try to determine what awamori tastes like (57:55)
Attempt to define French sake vs. “rice wine” (1:00:50)
Discuss some favorite Tohoku sake (1:04:20)
Collaborate on collaborations (1:08:28)
Confirm the seemingly endless expansion of sake breweries making more than just sake (1:14:10)
Explain fruity shochu (1:21:10)

We’re as busy as ever at @sakeonair on InstagramTwitter, and Facebook. If you’re curious to know what it is the cast and crew of Sake On Air are up to or are eagerly awaiting hints about what we’ve got coming down the pipeline, be sure to follow along with any or all of the above. If you’d like to share your thoughts or questions with the hosts, please reach out to us at questions@sakeonair.com.

Next week we’ll be starting our mini-series highlighting sake-inspired travels experiences in different regions across Japan. For all of our listeners out there with Japan plans on their horizon, these are not to be missed!

Be well, stay tuned, and until next week, 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 brought to you by Potts.K Productions with audio production by Frank Walter.

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

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.