News

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.com 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.com 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.com 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.com 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.com 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.