You’ll find a lot of sake brands throughout Japan, but one that everyone knows is the ubiquitous One Cup by Ozeki. Commonly sold at supermarkets and convenience stores in a convenient glass jar that allows you to enjoy a serving of sake “anytime, anywhere”, the One Cup is cheap but great-tasting, and its makers, Ozeki, have been brewing sake for over 300 years.
Constantly evolving to meet the needs of the market, Ozeki describes itself as “a pioneer striving to fulfill the needs of its customers with new sakes“. This trailblazing spirit has led them to their latest release, a special edition called One Cup Rainbow, which comes with the tagline “We Celebrate Diversity“.
Ozeki says the new sake was created in response to proposals from young local employees and strong requests from overseas customers. Ozeki has been producing sake in the United States for 42 years, after becoming the first Japanese manufacturer to break into the market there when it set up a factory in California in 1979, and this has allowed them to combine tradition with the needs of the international market in an innovative way.
The One Cup Rainbow features six colors of the rainbow flag, with red resembling life, orange resembling healing, yellow for sunlight, green for nature, indigo for serenity and violet representing spirit.
Ozeki isn’t just aiming to promote diversity with the new product–they’ve set up a number of in-house initiatives to improve workplaces within the company as well. In 1996, they abolished the gender checkbox on job application forms for new graduate recruits–a big move in Japan, where gender still plays a big part on forms–and in 2008 they established an in-house consultation service to help prevent harassment in the workplace.
Last year, they implemented even more initiatives to help safeguard employees, by:
- Revising harassment prevention regulations to specify harassment and behavior on the grounds of sexual orientation and self-identification as prohibited acts
- Providing training to promote understanding of LGBTQ matters for managers involved in personnel and general affairs operations
- Setting up LGBTQ E-learning initiatives for employees of domestic business companies
Japan is often cited as one of the countries where the LGBTQ community still has a long way to go to reach the levels of recognition achieved in other countries, so it’s heartening to see a centuries-old sake company placing such importance on promoting diversity.
The One Cup Rainbow was initially made in limited quantities for release in eight countries, with plans to expand into other areas in future, but stocks have already sold out during pre-sales with wholesalers. Given the demand for the new product within Japan, Ozeki was able to release a special batch for sale within the country, which will go on sale in time for Pride Month in June.
While customers in the Oceania region were able to enjoy the new sake from January, sake fans in the U.S. and Europe will have to wait until May to get a taste of the rainbow. Thankfully, the company says they still plan to broaden their distribution areas in future, which is a fitting plan for a product celebrating diversity and inclusivity.
Here’s hoping they eventually broaden distribution for their sake-scented incense sticks and tiny gacha toy collection too.
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