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“Business Projects Introduced Online by Sake Breweries during the Coronavirus Era: Part 4”

By Kosuke Kuji

A video of Japanese breweries pouring sake and toasting each other throughout Japan was uploaded and widely covered by the media across 47 prefectures.
*Iwate Nippo Daily Newspaper (
Of course, Japanese sake breweries were praised for collaborating on this video together across 47 prefectures in my opinion.
Therefore, the natural next step was to “connect worldwide!” Luckily, October 1 is “National Sake Day,” when the Japan Sake and Shochu Makers Association host their annual event, “Sekai Issei Kanpai” (“Toast Together Worldwide”). However, this toast will not take place in person (this year) due to the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, participants will each upload a video of themselves toasting.
This third video series showcase various participants toasting to sake online and the “Sake Dance,” choreographed by the association and performed by volunteers from various breweries and sake fans worldwide, in one video to be released on October 1.
Our expertise as sake breweries is to produce sake, but not dance. However, we fulfilled our wish to connect and toast with many people worldwide on October 1 to pray for an end to the global novel coronavirus pandemic.
As the novel coronavirus continues to spread with no end in sight in the immediate future, sake brewers would like to do what we can to produce sake at a time we can’t do many things we once took for granted. Please wait for our delicious sake we produce for your enjoyment during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.


「コロナ時代の蔵元の発信事業 その4」



#Breweries #Sake #coronavirus #covid19 #kanpai #pandemic

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“Business Projects Introduced Online by Sake Breweries during the Coronavirus Era: Part 3”

By Kosuke Kuji

Since Japan’s nationwide state of emergency declaration ended, gradual efforts started to recover the economy while stopping the spread of the coronavirus. Along with Japan as the Japanese continue to fight the novel coronavirus; the world is also experiencing shutdown fatigue.
In Japan, those who don’t quarantine voluntarily face harsh online criticism by the “quarantine police,” with many criticizing others unnecessarily, indicating a notable rise in mental illnesses among the Japanese.
In a time when no one knows when the shutdown will end, maintaining a sound mind may be difficult.
Is there a way to heal the minds of the Japanese with delicious sake? Japanese sake rejuvenates both the body and the mind. Sake breweries reflected on how to heal the minds of the Japanese through delicious sake.
The answer reached was “kanpai” (cheers!).
“Kanpai” is a gesture of toasting to celebrate joyous occasions or when socializing, a gesture to fulfill a “wish” or “desire” to “pray for ○○.” Examining the current state of the world, we discussed the need to “kanpai” to “pray for an end to the novel coronavirus pandemic.”
Sake breweries, shochu and Awamori distilleries, etc., are spread across 47 prefectures throughout Japan. We decided to unite as one and create a video of us toasting “kanpai,” praying for an end to the novel coronavirus pandemic. The title of this video project is “Let’s Connect! A Relay Across 47 Prefectures Throughout Japan,” showing sake brewers pouring sake in various regions from Hokkaido to Okinawa, and ends with a kanpai together with all participants and viewers watching.
This video project was a major success, met with interview requests from various TV stations across 47 prefectures. YouTube views exceeded 10,000 views. Let’s unite hearts as one across Japan to overcome these difficult times and kanpai together with a smile once the novel coronavirus pandemic ends.

「コロナ時代の蔵元の発信事業 その3」


#Breweries #Sake #coronavirus #covid19 #kanpai #pandemic

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“Business Projects Introduced Online by Sake Breweries during the Coronavirus Era: Part 2”

By Kosuke Kuji

In the midst of such discussions, singer Gen Hoshino launched “Come Dance at Our place,” a YouTube channel uploading copyright free parodies and dance videos from various viewers.
Sake breweries such as President Mitobe of the Yamagata Masamune Brewery, Yamagata Prefecture, started thinking of parodies such as “Come Drink at Our Place,” uploaded to YouTube channel and generated a buzz.
A discussion started on what would happen if sake breweries nationwide started singing “Come Drink at Our Place” resulted in cooperation among sake breweries nationwide to produce the below footage, uploaded to YouTube as follows.
We received words of encouragement from many sake fans that watched this footage.
Japanese sake is a traditional Japanese beverage that soothes the hearts of consumers and creates new motivation to start a new day. I’m overjoyed to know sake brewers nationwide coming together successfully motivated Japanese nationals and people worldwide suffering during the coronavirus pandemic. There must be something we can do as sake brewers, something only sake brewers can do to help. We recognized there were endless possibilities.

「コロナ時代の蔵元の発信事業 その2」


#Breweries #Sake #coronavirus #covid19 #masamune #pandemic #yamagata

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“Business Projects Introduced Online by Sake Breweries during the Coronavirus Era: Part I”

By Kosuke Kuji

The novel COVID-19 coronavirus is sweeping across Japan and worldwide. In the midst of the pandemic, one Japanese sake brewery started a business to revive Japan.
Since March when the coronavirus infection started to spread, many sake breweries started to stay home nationwide.
Usually, March is when newly produced sake is completed as sake production dwindles down, and many breweries start to make their rounds visiting customers to introduce their new sake.
Sake breweries make their rounds to ask various industry professionals for feedback sampling their new sake. However, the breweries cannot make their rounds this year.
Therefore, sake breweries decided to start a discussion amongst them and launched a weekly online sake-sampling event, “Online Brewery Sampling Event,” on Sunday nights on Zoom. Initially launched with few attendees, the network of breweries expanded to include more breweries over time.
Initially, there were negative discussions surrounding various concerns from anxiety and impatience. However, the tide changed to a positive direction visualizing the world after the coronavirus pandemic and what sake breweries could do to prepare.

「コロナ時代の蔵元の発信事業 その1」


#Breweries #Sake #coronavirus #covid19 #pandemic

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“Rubbing Alcohol Manufactured by Sake Producers: Part 3”

By Kosuke Kuji

Since the decision was made to manufacture rubbing alcohol, I still had a concern that left me hesitant. Founded in 1902, Nanbu Bijin since the first-generation owner upheld “quality first” as the family motto and corporate management principle, brewing sake to serve “delicious” sake to customers right up to the fifth generation overseer, myself.
Faced with the coronavirus pandemic, I felt conflicted – not sure if our ancestors would forgive me for brewing alcohol not made for human consumption. Meanwhile, the first rubbing alcohol was completed. Immediately supplied to the Ninohe Medical Association, rubbing alcohol was delivered to homes of families tending to sick children and their caregivers at every opportunity presented. Long used before the coronavirus pandemic to sterilize medical devices such as gastric fistulas or ventilators, the sudden demand for rubbing alcohol in homes nationwide created by the coronavirus resulted in a national shortage.
By the time I visited, the supply of rubbing alcohol was so low that several more sterilizations would’ve easily depleted the supply. Upon delivery, one teary-eyed recipient greeted me saying, “Thank you so much for helping us.”
Although many of our sake customers commented, “This is delicious, thank you” to me in the past, it was the first time in my life someone said to me, “Thank you so much for helping us.” I couldn’t stop the tears welling up in my eyes. I was sad to realize so many people were suffering at the brink of death, and yet, I never knew until now. I felt ashamed, humbled and sorry I never noticed before. Many people are suffering in Iwate prefecture, a rural prefecture in Japan, with many more people suffering nationwide. Meanwhile, I can manufacture rubbing alcohol for immediately delivery to the community.
Perhaps, after the coronavirus pandemic, rubbing alcohol can be manufactured and immediately supplied regionally. I was determined to continue manufacturing rubbing alcohol to help ensure Iwate prefecture will never run out of rubbing alcohol.

「酒類業者による消毒用アルコールの製造 その3」


#Sake #coronavirus

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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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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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“Novel Coronavirus”

The year 2020 started as an exciting year with Japan to host the Tokyo Olympics.
No one anticipated the unexpected coronavirus pandemic that swept the world merely several months later.
Japanese laws cannot enforce a national shutdown, while strict shutdown is enforced in the states like New York, encouraging residents to stay home in many regions to date.
I’m concerned for U.S. citizens hearing the latest developments in the U.S.
In Japan, the Tokyo Olympics was delayed 1 year as the Japanese government declared a state of emergency, “requesting” residents to stay at home. Although citizens did not stay home so much early on, many are now staying home to date as of April. As a Japanese national, I am proud to observe the cooperative spirit of Japanese citizens adhering to the government “request” to stay home despite no violation or penalties if this request was not adhered to.
On the other hand, the novel coronavirus impacted the entertainment and sports industries, with professional baseball and soccer games cancelled. Also, a nationally renowned comedian Ken Shimura – a favorite among our generation – succumbed to the coronavirus, which heightened the sensitivity of Japanese nationals to the coronavirus among, with many more now adhering to the stay at home request.
Schools in many prefectures are unable to start the new semester, while Iwate prefecture – home to sake producer Nanbu-bijin – is the only prefecture with no diagnosed case of the novel coronavirus as of April 25. Although “0” cases in Iwate prefecture may not continue much longer, local residents are diligently practicing social-distancing measures. With no end to this pandemic in sight yet, we must practice safety measures to ensure our survival.


しかし、その反面、芸能界やスポーツ界などでの新型コロナウィルスの蔓延は止まらず、プロ野球やサッカーはスタートが出来ません。さらには私達の世代のお笑いのヒーローだった志村けんさんがお亡くなりになり、これをきっかけに新型コロナウィルスへの日本国民の感度は高くなり、stay homeを守る雰囲気になっていきました。

by Kosuke Kuji

#Coronavirus #IwatePrefecture #Japanese #request

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Tokyo Jizake Strolling (Self-Containment Mood)

Tokyo Jizake Strolling (Self-Co... Tokyo Jizake Strolling (Self-Co...
By Ryuji Takahashi

Currently, the impact of COVID-19 Coronavirus is felt worldwide as many regions are self-confined to their homes. The virus is surely a serious problem not to be taken lightly, for which we cannot do much except to pray for the doctors and hope for the best as we take precautions like gargling, thorough hand-washing, etc. Many Japanese corporations instructed employees not to attend seminars or parties where ten or more people gather, which needless to say, prevents attendance at Japanese sake events and other events where an unknown number of people gather. No one can risk exposure to the Coronavirus by toasting with sake, so self-containment is the obviously correct measure to take. However, our organizers who proposed the sake events are troubled.
The venue was secured, the fliers were distributed, tickets were sold, and yet, the virus caused cancellations. It would be easier to accept if all attendees cancelled, yet only half cancelled, leaving the organizers pondering whether or not to proceed with the sake event. Our sake shop was also involved in organizing the event, yet the numerous cancellations left only several people still willing to attend. However, due to the passionate pleas to hold the event from the remaining customers still willing to attend, we changed the sake event to a dinner event with a sake brewery to welcome these guests. We invited Aichi Brewery from Aichi District, Shiga Prefecture to come and promote how the flavor of the same type of new sake can change dramatically depending on the tank used.
Sake favored by sake breweries may not always be popular among the general public. Therefore, understanding the gap between the sake producer and consumer awareness is a meaningful purpose to hold this dinner event. Cancelling the sake event would mean the loss of an opportunity to research sake completed by sake brewers (new products). Producing sake that sells require marketing research. To lose the opportunity for this research could deal a huge blow to the sake brewers as well. Currently, customers are not eating out at restaurants in Japan, rumored to close and incur significant losses during the cherry-blossom viewing season, when restaurants normally make great money. Similarly, sake shops are also hit by less business transactions with restaurants. Breweries will also feel this fiscal impact as well.
Even when the restaurant industry returns to business as usual, their business will still be impacted if sake shops and breweries are still closed. Currently, I’m sorry to say to these restaurants that we consumers have no choice but to drink sake at home. The demand among younger generations and female consumers to drink sake at home is recently declining. Under these circumstances, why not rediscover the joy of drinking sake at home? Purchasing your favorite type of sake bottle, sake, appetizers, and enjoying your sake leisurely at home while watching TV is fun. Novels containing scenes where sake is consumed can also stimulate one’s appetite to keep drinking. It will take a long time for sake breweries, sake shops, and restaurants to return to business as usual. However, please be careful with your health, pray, and enjoy your sake at home.


#COVID19 #Coronavirus #SelfContainment

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