The Narrow Road to Deep Yamagata

  Yamagata, meaning “shape of mountains,” is an appropriately named prefecture with distinctive rural character and a noticeably slower pace of life. It is one of Japan’s least populous prefectures and also home to one of its oldest average populations, despite the ruggedness of the terrain and climate. Even its larger cities seem sparsely populated…

Issue 12: From the Editor

Late last month, the sake of Yamagata Prefecture was officially granted GI (Geographical Indication) status by the National Tax Administration. This means that they have secured the right to call their sake “Yamagata” sake, and that no one else can do that. This is similar in letter and spirit to putting the term “champagne” on…

Issue 11: From the Editor

“Onko-chishin.” 温故知新 What’s old is new. There may be other translations and interpretations of the expression, but this is the most succinct and it applies in spirit to the sake world. Things cycle. Brewers experiment with new ingredients and methods. While some of those new things do end up being positive contributions to the craft,…

Issue 10: From the Editor

Sake and all that suffuses it is slowly seeping into mainstream media. The fact that there were three movies–all documentaries–about sake released over the past year is evidence of this. One of those is “Kampai! For the Love of Sake” (Japanese title: 乾杯!世界が愛する日本酒). It basically traces the “way of sake” or the path to sake…

Issue 9: From the Editor

As readers are surely aware, a series of earthquakes struck Kyushu, the southernmost of Japan’s four main islands, centered on but not limited to Kumamoto Prefecture. An extremely strong earthquake struck on April 14th, and an even stronger one two days later on April 16th. Moderately strong aftershocks were felt for days. Dozens lost their…

Issue 8: From the Editor

One rarely gets to hang out with a toji. ‘Hang out’ as in sit there and drink sake slowly over a few hours with someone whose life is so tied to sake that he or she has no idea when technical references to their everyday brewing problems go right over the heads of we mortals.…

Kimoto

The traditional ways of doing things always seem to circle back around. Be it sake brewing or any traditional craft, people have spent great lengths of time figuring out the best way to do it. Even if the process was full of hassles, they continued to do it that way for good reason: it led…

Issue 7: From the Editor

At 7:30pm on the evening of October 1st in Japan, happy drinkers synchronized a nation-wide call of “kampai” via the internet and televised it from three locations: Tokyo, Hyogo and Saga. October 1st is “Nihonshu no Hi,” or “Sake Day,” and while the industry has celebrated this day since the early 1970s, this marked the…

Issue 6: From the Editor

Welcome to Issue 6 of Sake Today! Thanks to your support, we have crossed yet another threshold. It’s been a year since we first made the decision to go quarterly and offer subscriptions, and our first wave of subscribers have already renewed with this issue. Please be sure to continue the support with a subscription…