In the early Meiji Period, Japan first had to deal with the West. In the postwar period, Japan needed to rebuild. In both cases, Japanese industrialists studied overseas markets and then developed products that they knew would sell well in those markets.
These days it is often suggested that Japan again needs to take this approach. Yet many of Japan’s larger manufacturing concerns seem unable to come up with new products to compete on the international stage. In spite of this, we see the rise of many entrepreneurs and small enterprises. And in some cases, companies with long histories are proving themselves able to adapt to the demands of overseas markets.
A great example of this is Katoukichibee Shouten Co Ltd, a sake brewing concern in Fukui Prefecture with roots back in the early Meiji Period that was so pivotal for Japan. Makers of “BORN” brand sake, the brewery has just received kosher certification from the London Beth Din Kashrut Division (KLBD) for all of its sake products.
While this is not the first time a sake has been certified Kosher, it is the first time that a brewer’s entire line of products, 27 different varieties of sake, has received such certification.
In our modern age, Kosher foods, while meeting the requirements of particular religious observance, have also come to be regarded as health foods in their own right, because of the purity and strict conditions of their preparation.
The makers of BORN recognized the value to their international marketing of having Kosher certification. Fortunately for them, their traditional brewing methods and pure ingredients actually helped them to achieve the certification. According to 11th generation sake brewer, Atsuhide Kato, the only ingredient changed for Kosher certification was the yeast mash.
Even the brand name BORN 梵 is derived from the Sanskrit word for purity. What could be more appropriate for a traditionally-produced sake, or indeed, for a Kosher product?
The BORN products tend to be a bit sweet, because of the traditional style of production. Lest you think BORN is entirely traditional, however, there is a sparkling variety for special occasions. Sparkling sake is definitely a modern variation on an age old drink.
Katoukichibee Shouten has leveraged its traditional roots to get Kosher certification that opens new export markets to give it a modern competitive advantage. Here's hoping it works! Kampai! (Or should that be l'chaim?)© Japan Today