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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 #Japanese #request #IwatePrefecture

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Tokyo Jizake Strolling (Self-Quarantine Edition)

Business districts throughout Tokyo are quiet as restaurants are dealt a major blow by the shutdown enforced due to the latest COVID-19 pandemic. Sales decline as transactions stopped for sake shops with reduced transactions between sake breweries and sake shops. Needless to say, all Japanese sake events are cancelled until fall. Many news outlets report the Japanese have a low-level awareness of the Coronavirus as domestic regulations are relaxed compared to other nations. Perhaps, it would make sense to prohibit people leaving their homes during this pandemic.
What could the sake industry do to survive this shutdown? What is the best strategy to survive this pandemic? In Tokyo, daily grocery outings are relatively unrestricted. Since customers cannot enjoy sake at restaurants, the only option left is to drink at home. Although sake cannot be considered an essential product to everyday life, being prohibited from consuming sake will no doubt cause stress for consumers. Sake shops dependent on restaurant sales are no doubt struggling. On the other hand, sake shops mainly delivering sake for major sake shops are apparently now busy with home deliveries of beer, etc. What about independent sake shops in the city? Sake shops deeply rooted in the community with mostly local customers are capable of surviving.
However, long-established sake shops with generations of customers are apparently struggling. The same can also be said about restaurants and other retail stores. Residents always come and go as they pass away, move in, or move away in a city constantly bustling and evolving. Restaurants flexible in accommodating the changing times are the ones that survive. However, the scale of these restaurants are relatively small, as my own is struggling to diligently sell products at the storefront, post fliers, visit client restaurants we have transactions with, and invest in promotions with the risk of incurring a deficit.
I recalled author Osamu Dazai famously said, “Human beings have 365 days a year, in which having 1 day, or even half-a-day with no worries is considered lucky.” He also said, “the ultimate standpoint of human pride is to be able to say I’ve struggled to death.” How will the sake industry overcome this pandemic? When the pandemic is finally over, what would be the economic state of the sake industry? And my own restaurant? Once this pandemic is over, I’d like to think the sake industry would be back even stronger. However, I’d like to first enjoy sake with my clients and colleagues. Next year, I hope to enjoy a beautiful view of the cherry blossoms as I savor delicious sake.



#SelfQuarantine #COVID19

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Sake Tasting

Sake Tasting

To be able to taste sake, the most importing to do is to identify and set your own tasting criteria. The criteria are not based on one’s preferences, so one must find the foundation that become the basis for judging various sake. One must have that foundation in place to be able to recognize aroma, acidity, body and umami, that different types of sake have.
So how can one establish that foundation for establishing your own tasting criteria? Here is the quickest and least expensive way of doing it, based on my own experience.
First, buy low-priced sake at a store. Try it every day for 15 days, even if you don’t like it or it’s simply horrible (some people may need 20 days). Do not drink it until it makes you drunk. It’s most important that you drink a certain amount every day, even if it’s just enough to fill an ochoko (tiny sake cup).
Stop for two to three days to rest your liver, then do a tasting of a different sake. You will probably realize that you can profile the sake to surprising details. The differences in acidity, the body, aroma, and umami, as well as aftertaste intensity – you should be able to clearly tell those differences.
Once you have that understanding, all you need to do is study on which step of the process makes those differences. Also, deepen your understanding on raw ingredients and water, and study how to express them as well as food pairings. This way, you will become a great sake sommelier.





니혼슈(일본술)의 시음

술 시음에 앞서 가장 중요한 것은 자신에 맞는 미각 기준을 발견하는 것입니다. 여기서 기준이란 자신의 기호가 아니라 다른 술을 판정하는 데 필요한 미각의 축이 되는 것을 발견하는 것입니다. 그 축이 되는 맛이 확실하면 다른 술과 차별화된 향과 산미, 보디, 풍미를 느낄 수 있게 되는 것입니다.
다음은 그 축을 찾는 방법인데, 이번에는 자신의 경험을 바탕으로 가장 빠르고, 비용도 들지 않는 미각 판단 기준의 발견 방법을 알려드리고자 합니다.
우선 매장에서 저렴한 니혼슈를 산 후, 그 술이 맛이 없더라도 15일간 매일 같은 술을 마십니다(사람에 따라서는 20일 정도 걸리기도 합니다). 그리고 절대 취할 때까지 마시지 않습니다. 양은 사기잔 한 잔을 마시든 홀짝홀짝 마시든 매일 마셔야 합니다.
2~3일간 휴식을 취한 후 다른 니혼슈를 시음해 봅니다. 아마도 지금까지 몰랐던 맛을 느낄 수 있을 것입니다. 산미의 차이, 보디의 무게감, 향의 차이, 풍미의 수준, 후미의 강약을 확실하게 알 수 있게 됩니다.
이를 이해할 수 있다면, 다음에는 그 차이가 어느 공정에서 영향을 받았는지 공부하면 됩니다. 또한, 원재료와 물에 대해서도 지식을 쌓고, 표현력과 요리의 궁합에 관해서 공부해 나간다면 훌륭한 사케 소믈리에(기키자케시)가 될 수 있습니다.

#SakeTasting #SakeSommelier

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