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“Rubbing Alcohol Manufactured by Sake Producers: Part 2”

By Kosuke Kuji

The spread of the novel coronavirus caused a shortage of rubbing alcohol in the market.
Our company happens to distribute “alcohol,” licensed to produce alcohol as well.
However, Japanese sake is not highly concentrated alcohol. Our license we hold is for brewing Japanese sake, not a license to produce highly concentrated alcohol products.
In the midst of this dilemma, the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare issued an unprecedented notice to “permit the use of highly concentrated alcohol products produced by sake brewers to be used as rubbing alcohol by the healthcare industry.”
In addition, the Japanese National Tax Agency presiding over permits for alcohol production issued a notice stating, “Major steps will be taken to relax the regulation of alcohol production as rubbing alcohol.” Further, since highly concentrated alcohol can be seen as hazardous material, the Japanese Fire and Disaster Management Agency also issued a notice to “ensure speedy and flexible implementation of the Fire Service Act throughout the community,” encouraging the production of highly concentrated alcohol by various Japanese producers of regional sake, shochu, Awamori, and other “national alcoholic beverages” like ourselves for use as rubbing alcohol by the healthcare industry. I’d like to take this opportunity to express our sincere gratitude to the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, the Japanese National Tax Agency, and the Japanese Fire and Disaster Management Agency, etc., for their speedy decision to relax the regulations.
If someone was in need, I wouldn’t be able to pass by without offering help. Therefore, we immediately announced our decision to “produce rubbing alcohol,” and picked up the ball running.
Although we cannot produce surgical masks or protective clothing for the healthcare industry, we can definitely produce alcohol. Actually, we’re the only ones capable of producing rubbing alcohol.
We immediately launched our production of rubbing alcohol to fulfill our mission of helping those in need of rubbing alcohol to satisfy our responsibilities and mission as a licensed alcohol producer.

「酒類業者による消毒用アルコールの製造 その2」


#Sake #coronavirus

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The Taste of Japanese Sake

Sake aroma is difficult to describe in one phrase. However, focusing one’s senses helps to detect the aroma of various plants and food ingredients harmonized together. This issue introduces the below aromas detected in sake.

Herbal and Spice Aromas
Cherry blossom leaves, thyme, lemon balm, clove, licorice, green pepper, cinnamon, mint, juniper berries, caraway, laurel (bay) leaves, estragon, French parsley, vanilla, nutmeg, green tea, rosemary, eucalyptus, Japanese mugwort, ears of rice, matcha, basil, turmeric and ginger.

Fruit Aromas
Lychee, melon, Chinese quince, apple, loquat, pear, banana, white peach, yellow peach, persimmon, muscat, dried fig, muskmelon, Yubari melon, dried banana, akebi, Asian pear (20th Century pear), mango, mangosteen, grape, nectarine, red bayberries, lemon, apricot, pineapple, sudachi, green apple, cherry, raspberry, strawberry, lime, orange, grapefruit, green ume (plum), kiwi, plum and yuzu.

Grain Aromas
Dried ears of rice, glutinous rice flour, freshly-pound mochi, sweet rice flour, adzuki beans, soy beans, rice, Kudzu starch gruel, tofu, soba (buckwheat noodles), bracken-starch dumpling, genmai (brown rice), sakura mochi (rice cake wrapped in preserved cherry leaf), malt, sweet potato, sticky rice, Domyoji (Kansai-style sakura mochi), tofu skin, corn flakes and steamed bread.

Wood Aromas
Green bamboo, bamboo, bamboo leaves, magnolia, new leaves, Japanese cypress, maple, pine needles and pine.

日本酒物語 日本酒の味






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Tokyo Jizake Strolling (Trip to Niigata Prefecture Part 2)

By Ryuji Takahashi

This article is a continuation of my previous issue about my trip to Niigata prefecture to enjoy ramen and a local sake brewery tour. Niigata prefecture is home to the “Senami Onsen” hot springs in Murakami city. On the first day, we left the Kanemasu Brewery and booked a reservation at the traditional Japanese inn “Taikanso Senami no Yu” with the largest bath at the Senami Onsen hot springs to bathe and relax while viewing the sun set into the Japan Sea. As soon as we arrived, we had our temperature checked.
Initially concerned a high temperature might prevent our stay; we were luckily able to check in without any issues. Of course, we dropped off the luggage in our rooms and headed straight to the hot springs to recover from the long trip. Unfortunately, we went too early to see the sunset from the hot springs, but witnessed the sunset from the dining room while enjoying our dinner course.
Blessed by the beautiful weather, we enjoyed our dinner course while taking in the spectacular sunset. The next day, we left the inn and arrived at the Sasaiwai Brewery in Nishikanku ward, Niigata city; after approximately 2 hours. My hopes grew as I noticed the ambiance inside the Sasaiwai Brewery changed since my last visit.
The entrance of the sake brewery is similar to that of a café, adorned with repurposed sake barrels with a tasting room and display shelves creating a chic ambiance without appearing out-of-date. Sake production was already over by the time we visited. However, walking inside the brewery, I was overwhelmed by many historic architecture and tools that made my jaw drop in awe.
Brewery Master Sasaguchi explained reinstating the authentic regional sake production process in modern times while reorganizing a user-friendly workplace for his sake brewery workers. Still in his thirties, the young Brewery Master seems to be a capable CEO with a clear understanding of both the modern day demands and the future direction of the sake industry.
After a tour of the sake brewery, we asked about the large quantity of pottery lined on a shelf. The pottery was stored inside the storage unit, sold to visitors of the brewery at very cheap prices. Our chef was with me, so we bought small plates for use and a small serving flask for display at our restaurant. Happy to purchase rare antiques, we left the brewery in a very good mood.
We headed to the next sake brewery in Nagaoka. We stopped in for lunch at the ramen shop Koshu Hanten, renowned for their Tsubame Sanjo Seabura Ramen. The recent prevalence of thick ramen noodles in pork soup stock with pork back fat served in Tokyo originated in Niigata prefecture. Pork back fat is served floating on the soup surface to ensure the soup does not get cold in the cold climate of Niigata prefecture, along with thick noodles to ensure the noodles don’t get overcooked and soft before the very last bite.
I ordered 3 vegetable gyoza (dumplings) and a standard ramen. Although Koshu Hanten accepts orders for generous portions of pork back fat, I ordered the regular portion for my first visit. The gyoza was the size of a child’s fist, with 3 pieces sufficiently filling for someone with a small appetite. For the main course, the ramen broth was a bit on the salty side, but sipping together with the pork back fat neutralizes the saltiness to create the perfect harmony of flavors. I was surprised by this newly discovered function that pork back fat plays in the ramen soup stock as I finished the bowl. Full and satisfied, we headed next to another sake brewery in Nagaoka city, to be continued in Part 3.


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Pointers for Selling Japanese Sake

By Yuji Matsumoto

For this issue I have put together pointers for restaurants and retail stores to sell Japanese sake and also important points for distributors in differentiation.

Grasp what customers like and offer the appropriate Japanese sake.
You will be able to do this by asking customers what type of alcohol and favorite wine(s) they drink regularly. For instance, for someone who likes bourbon, you can offer a junmai type that is prepared in a cask etc.

For the Japanese sake menu, instead of dividing it into specific class sakes (Daiginjo, Ginjo, Honjozo etc), divide it into taste types and food(s) it matches with.
It is not ideal to have a menu with specific names that do not describe the taste or aroma at all. It is important to taste test and with your judgment, create a menu that matches the taste of sake with the dish.

Offer cross merchandising with seasonal foods that can be used also by retailer stores.
Always point out Japanese sakes that are compatible with the daily dish (food item).

The sake cup; it is no exaggeration to say that it is the 'most important thing in drinking' especially for Ginjo types that have aromas.
Unfortunately there are very few "Japanese type" cups that are suitable with Ginjo type Japanese sakes with aroma, but we think it is a good idea to offer the first drink in a small white wine class as a taste testing for the customers.







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Rubbing Alcohol Manufactured by Sake Producers: Part 1

By Kosuke Kuji

Due to the global novel coronavirus pandemic, the entire world is still fighting the coronavirus today.
Since the Japanese constitution does not allow for a nationally enforced shutdown, the Japanese government declared a nationwide “state of emergency” and “requested” the general public voluntarily stay home.
As the novel coronavirus spreads, the greatest concern is the medical institutions.
With the usual medical services unavailable, the coronavirus spreading inside medical institutions could get doctors and nurses treating the coronavirus patients in the front lines infected, which could halt the medical services provided inside the hospital. The coronavirus did spread inside one Japanese medical institution, where medical services did stop briefly.
Healthcare providers working at these medical institutions are in the front lines fighting the novel coronavirus despite their own risk for infection.
I started to notice the desperate need for supplies lacking among these healthcare providers in the front lines.
“We don’t have enough rubbing alcohol.”
The novel coronavirus can be killed by sterilization with rubbing alcohol.
While healthcare workers regularly use rubbing alcohol even before the coronavirus outbreak, the pandemic caused a shortage of rubbing alcohol among medical institutions.
Despite the best efforts by the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare to supply rubbing alcohol for medical purposes, meeting the high demand for supply was proven difficult due to the ongoing pandemic.
With insufficient supply of rubbing alcohol in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, I wondered how I could help as I questioned myself daily in search of a solution.

酒豪大陸「酒類業者による消毒用アルコールの製造 その1」


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Tokyo Jizake Strolling (Trip to Niigata Prefecture Part I)

by Ryuji Takahashi

Just when I was longing for a break, feeling fatigued by daily updates on the coronavirus coming in from both the government and the city of Tokyo impacted by the virus, an end was announced to the stay-at-home orders prohibiting inter-prefecture travel. A chef at one of my client restaurants and his carpenter friend, a regular at his restaurant, asked me to join them “to go have delicious ramen noodles in Niigata prefecture.” Wanting to take a dip in the local hot springs, I decided to venture out on an overnight trip to Niigata prefecture.
I left the rainy city of Tokyo by car around 6:00 AM. The weather started to improve around Akagi Kogen (Akagi Nature Park) in Gunma prefecture. By the time I reached Niigata prefecture, the sky was clear and sunny. First, I headed to ramen shop “Anpuku-tei Kanda Restaurant” in Nagaoka city, Niigata prefecture to try their Tsubame Sanjo Ramen, prepared from pork back fat and dried sardine soup stock. Much to my disappointment, they were temporarily closed when I arrived. Instead, I headed ten minutes away to Aoshima Shokudo to try their Ginger Shoyu Ramen planned for the following day. Named as one of five renowned ramen representative of Niigata prefecture, the ramen shop was already filled to capacity just past 11:00 AM.
This was my first time trying ginger shoyu (soy sauce flavored) soup stock, a light ginger flavor with a depth very different from the usual shoyu ramen. I finished the bowl before I knew it, but convinced myself it was just as well to start working up an appetite for an earlier dinner than usual at the traditional Japanese inn, and left the ramen shop. Apparently, another restaurant location opened in the Akihabara district in Tokyo, so I planned to stop in there as well. My conclusion was, the shoyu ramen was addictively delicious! Afterwards, I headed towards the Sea of Japan to the Teradomari Fish Market Street.
Here, many fish markets and souvenir shops occupied the area, where I headed after the dinner at the inn to purchase snacks to enjoy with my sake. The area was bustling with visitors just after the inter-prefecture travel ban was lifted, with many vehicle plates from other prefectures. Shop owners were delighted to welcome back their returning customers. Apparently, tourist spots in rural areas took a significant economic blow, so I prayed there would be no explosive spike in active cases.
Next, I headed to the Kanemasu Brewery in Shibata city, producer of sake brands Hatsuhana and Kanemasu. I’ve visited several times before, but this was my first visit with the chef and his carpenter friend, so we started with the tour of the brewery. The chef and I tend to focus on the equipment, tank, and procedure to produce sake. However, the carpenter friend attending helped us enjoy the tour from another perspective, such as reviewing the structure of the brewery ceiling.
Touring a sake brewery with professionals from a different industry is fun! We enjoyed the sake brewery’s proud historic courtyard that drew great interest from the chef, a history buff. Having sparked my friend’s interest in sake was an accomplishment that made this trip worthwhile, considering our friend drinks a lot of sake but never expressed interest in sake breweries or the sake production procedure before. I graciously accepted the Hatsuhana Junmai Ginjo as a souvenir to enjoy back at the inn, and headed to the renowned Senami Onsen Hot Springs with the sun setting on the horizon. To be continued in Part II.



#Niigata #ramen #KanemasuBrewery

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Logo Branding of Japanese Sake

by Yuji Matsumoto

The logo is an important symbol that represents the product of a company. When reviewing products popular worldwide, each company studies how to best advertise their logos to have their consumers remember their logo, an important strategy. Regardless of the product, consumers are concerned with visual appeal for text and descriptions usually escape the memory.
Audi have four circles, Honda is the letter “H,” and apple is for Apple computers, logos are easy to memorize. This is also true for food products.
How does this apply to Japanese sake? Review of local ads for Japanese sake, it is difficult to see where the logo is, and often many of the brands don’t have one. It’s difficult to tell if the sake manufacturer’s name is the brand, or the product name is, or if another product name is the brand.
Even if a consumer likes a particular brand of sake, this makes it difficult for the consumers to make the connection between the brand of sake and the manufacturer, or other products offered by that manufacturer. Although the colors and size of bottles may change according to the brand, the brand logo should be made most noticeable for the labeling. Why not consider a logo that appeal to consumers?



#logo #brand #sake #symbol

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Sake Nation “Special Case of Ban Lifted on Alcohol Take-out Sales from Restaurants”

by Kosuke Kuji

As the novel coronavirus raged across Japan in March, many restaurants voluntarily shortened their business hours or shut down.
Since the state of emergency was declared, citizens were continuously advised not to dine out in restaurants or attend drinking parties in large groups. The tourism and restaurant industries were dealt a significant blow in Japan.
Restaurant owners were not exactly wringing their hands, as many restaurants started to accept take-out orders.
Although this is wonderful, alcohol permits in Japan stipulate alcoholic beverages purchased from restaurants must be consumed on the premises.
Take-home consumption is prohibited.
In such times, the news reported alcohol delivery and take-out sales from restaurants became legal in the U.S.
We sake breweries initiated an effort to establish a system allowing take-out sales of alcoholic beverages as permitted in the U.S. by dividing the volume into smaller portions, etc., to save our restaurant clientele. The National Tax Agency JAPAN, the administering agency of liquor licenses, immediately responded at a startling speed and lifted the ban to permit take-home sales of alcoholic beverages. However, thanks to the remarkable speed of the permit granted in only one day, many restaurants continue to use this system to accept take-out orders for both food and alcoholic beverages.
Restaurants, especially bars and pubs do not only serve food. Consumers enjoy satisfaction from savoring the sake selections chosen by the owner together with delicious cuisine in the ambiance of the establishment. We cannot yet enjoy the ambiance of a bar or pub, and the cuisine alone lacks the joy of dining out; however, adding the alcoholic beverage adds joy to a take-out meal consumed at home.
There must be more we could do. We sake breweries look forward to continuing our efforts.



#Sake #BanLifted #TakeOut

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Tokyo Jizake Strolling (The Future Direction of Japanese Sake)

Tokyo Jizake Strolling (The Future Direction of Japanese Sake)

While the coronavirus threat is starting to subside in Tokyo, most residents are still in quarantine with some hesitant to step into restaurants where people congregate. As reported in the previous issue, people are determined to find creative ways to get through the tough economic times posing the greatest challenge for sake breweries and retail shops selling sake. The economy will not go back to normal right away. As Tokyoites gradually come out of quarantine, those who cannot telecommute are heading back to work in the cities, filling commuter trains that was empty until just recently, leaving no seats available.
This means demand will decrease among consumers who consume sake at home. However, restaurants cannot get back to normal business anytime soon, continuing to incur losses. Sake shops will continue to suffer losses in sales to customers and restaurants. This situation is expected to continue for several more months, with stay-at-home likely to continue outside of essential purposes to avoid a secondary infection. However, since restaurants, sake shops, and sake breweries are all inter-connected, sake breweries are also struggling. This timing gives evidence to how much sake consumption declined among Japanese nationals.
Traditionally, sake was found in every home and would expect sake consumption at home would increase under these conditions, therefore, sake shops and breweries should not be incurring losses hypothetically. One conclusion that may be drawn is that the PR teams and ambassadors of Japanese sake brands were not effective in their promotional efforts. Perhaps, their efforts to popularize Japanese sake were directed in the wrong direction. Japanese sake is a beverage casually consumed and closely tied into everyday life in Japan. Therefore, the increased wine consumption compared to the reduced sake consumption can be attributed to Japanese society as a whole.
This is a timing to take a long, hard look for PR teams of Japanese sake. However, all we can do for now is to drink sake. The difficult challenges can be addressed once the coronavirus threat passes completely. Also, I hear many people are cooking more and improving their cooking skills while staying home. Using regional sake for cooking is a great idea. For example, if using miso one day, or cooking wild game or fresh fish is a great reason to purchase regional sake to cook with or compliment the prepared cuisine. For example, in a community with regional cuisines prepared from mountain vegetables, why not purchase regional sake from a local brewery to prepare wild game and enjoy with the sake? Since the same sake was used in preparing the cuisine, there is no way the sake wouldn’t compliment the cuisine.
The message that is important to pass on is not knowledge pertaining to sake composition, etc., not simply to consume sake, but knowledge to closely and efficiently tie sake into daily life to increase the consumption volume of sake overall. Also, I pray business is back to normal by the time this article is published.


#Sake #coronavirus

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Sake Q & A

By Yuji Matsumoto

1. Cold or Hot
Many people think that high quality sake should be enjoyed chilled, but that is wrong. Compared to not needing to worry about the temperature for the better quality sakes, it is better to really chill the poor balanced sakes on the contrary. For one guideline, if it is a refreshing sake that has a flower or fruit type aroma, it’s better to chill them to enjoy the clean cut taste and aroma.

2. Which Sake is Better?
Which sake you like changes if the food you like regularly is rich or light so there is no exact answer, but I feel there is a tendency that someone that likes full body red wine will probably like a Junmai Kimoto or Honjozo type sake and someone that likes a young, fruity chardonnay will like a Daiginjo of Niigata prefecture type sake.

3. Drinking Cup
Not only for sake but for wines or beers, it’s amazing that the taste can drastically change depending on the glass. If you want to enjoy the taste and especially the aroma, a small white wine glass is good. For hot sake, so the steam of the alcohol is not smothering, a ceramic type with a slightly large mouth that holds the temperature is good. A wooden square doesn’t go well with aromatic Ginjo types but for sakes with definite body like Junmai types, you can enjoy them with the aroma of Cypress. Please enjoy cold or at room temperature if you have it that way.






1. 冷或熱

2. 哪些才是好酒

3. 飲酒容器

일본술 Q & A

1, 차갑게 아니면 따뜻하게?
대부분 고급술은 차갑게 마시는 것으로 생각하기 쉽지만, 이는 틀린 생각입니다. 양질의 일본술일수록 온도와 상관없이 마실 수 있지만, 밸런스가 나쁜 술은 아주 차갑게 마시는 편이 오히려 좋습니다. 꽃이나 과실류의 향이 나는 깔끔한 맛의 일본술은 차갑게 마시는 것이 산뜻한 뒷맛과 향을 즐길 수 있습니다.

2, 좋은 술의 기준
평소 자신이 좋아하는 요리가 진한 맛인지 담백한 맛인지에 따라 좋아하는 일본술도 달라지기 마련입니다. 따라서 모두 다 그런 것은 아니지만, 풀바디의 와인을 좋아하는 사람은 대체로 준마이 기모토(純米生酛)나 혼죠조(本醸造)를 좋아하고, 풍부한 과일향의 영한 샤르도네를 좋아하는 사람은 니가타의 다이긴죠(大吟醸)를 즐기는 경향이 있습니다.

3, 술잔
신기하게도 일본술뿐만 아니라 와인과 맥주도 잔에 따라 맛이 변합니다. 맛, 특히 향을 즐기고 싶다면 작은 화이트 와인잔이 안성맞춤입니다. 데운 술을 마실 때는 알코올의 증기가 빠져 습기가 차지 않는 약간 입구가 큰 도자기로, 보온성이 있는 것이 좋습니다.
나무로 만든 병은 향기로운 긴죠(吟醸)에는 잘 어울리지 않지만, 준마이(純米) 등의 깔끔한 바디의 일본술에는 히노키 향이 더해져 더 맛있게 마실 수 있습니다. 이때는 차갑거나 상온으로 마십니다.

#Sake #Temperature #DrinkingCup

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