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Japan looks to sake as new economic growth tonic

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i love sake, warm, it's somehow a less aggressive drink than beer (in my experience) so i'm all up for it, took me until last year to find a store that's actually no further than the nearest city where they sell the stuff. I don't know if anyone would like it here tho ...

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sfjp330Jul. 04, 2012 - 08:05AM JST

Sake can have more acceptance and bigger sales if they can make "Sake Light" with low sugar and similar alcohol. Most of the regular Sake has too much sugar.

Actually, Ozeki has just marketed a sake that is half the alchohol content (7% I think), and not nearly as sweet as the real stuff. It's meant for people who want to drink sake in large amounts, and not for 'sipping' like the real stuff. There are also different variations of sake on the market such as carbonated versions which I personally think Westerners would like, but as you say, 'sake has too much sugar' isn't really convincing to me since most westerners love to drink sweet cocktails and drinks that are loaded with sugar.

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gaijinTechieJul. 04, 2012 - 06:18PM JST

Basroil, take a really good look at the quality and resolution of European and Mext radiation maps. You'll see high resolution, detailed European maps, and then you see a single Mext number representing the whole prefecture of Japan. See where I'm getting at? Seriously, is that all you got? Not impressed.

Not even sure what maps you're talking about. MEXT has a prefecture by prefecture interactive map you can use in english or japanese. Europe hasn't done wide scale readings in two decades. Both had fallout maps made by the same formulas by the same groups, but those give distributions and not actual data. Yet Europe insists on banning Japanese goods while theirs are far more contaminated.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

Basroil, take a really good look at the quality and resolution of European and Mext radiation maps. You'll see high resolution, detailed European maps, and then you see a single Mext number representing the whole prefecture of Japan. See where I'm getting at? Seriously, is that all you got? Not impressed.

You can assume all you want, that's what you're good at. We have no need for assumptions.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I was just translating material today about sake from Aizu (in Fukushima) for a Tohoku food expo. Having lived in Niigata for 9 years, I'm obviously biased towards Niigata sake and think it's a cut above the rest. I can't help wondering, though, whether all these small artisan sake breweries would be able to meet demand while retaining the same level of quality if sake did take off overseas in a big way. At any rate, I shall be off to Tokyo Liquor in Auckland at the weekend to buy some Niigata-produced Uonuma (since we can't get our favourite - Shimeharitsuru - here in NZ).

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gaijinTechieJul. 04, 2012 - 08:19AM JST

2) Because Europeans have already learned this lesson, and because Japanese have no idea how seriously Europeans take food safety.

So you really think that they have learned a lesson when they increased the threshold for DOMESTIC products to five times the Japanese limit for any products? Considering radiation levels in their meat is still three to six times higher than in Japanese meat, we can roughly assume that all the crops are roughly in the same ratios.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Best of luck but I can't see it becoming a popular restaurant choice in non-Japanese restaurants and its appeal would be limited in bars. Sorry to any sake lovers but it just doesn't measure up to a Glenmorangie, a cold Guinness, a cold Tanqueray gin and tonic in summer or a nice glass of red. I'm a great lover of Japanese food but it's gassy, flavourless beer and pretty uninspiring wines and spirits leave me cold.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Sfjp330, you must drink a lot of sake from west Japan. Many of the northern varieties, such as Denshu from Aomori are very light. Perhaps the best thing about both sake and shochu is the fact that you can go on a bender and wake up ready to work out the next morning. Try that with beer or a nice peaty single malt (I love the stuff, but lord help you the next day if you over do it)

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The only people who like this stuff who aren't Japanese or haven't lived in Japan are those pretentious "I LOVE Japanese" food while pouring soy sauce all over their rice. It isn't going to fly.

No one trusts Japanese food or drink right now because of the horrific handling of Fukushima. Word is out that contaminated good have been shipped overseas (tea anyone?), things have been relabeled and that things aren't being tested all that well here.

While I applaud these folks for thinking outside the box, sort of, not going to happen.

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While it is true that Akita has good sake, other prefectures in Japan produce very good sake, too (in my opinion).

With the sake-breweries increasing nowadays and the new types of sake, you can find some sakes which taste better than some white wines and can be consumed with certain western foods (though not many).

It is fun looking for the difference in flavor and taste, based on the kind of rice used, the percentage of polishing the grain and the enzyme used for fermentation – fruity (delicate and more expressed) flavors come in all varieties.

Most of the good quality sake does not have sugar added – all the sweetness (also sourness, bitterness, flavor) come from the above mentioned: kind of rice, the percentage of polishing the grain, the enzyme (and a few other factors.)

Though sake is a niche market, it has potential for growth out of Japan – given it is marketed according to the different specifics of the foreign markets.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Nope, best sake is definitely from Akita. It just evaporates into your nose the second it touches your tongue.

If recipes need to be tinkered to better fit foreign mouths, foreigners should do it. There are many import cuisines that skyrocketed once locals adapted them to local mouths.

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This is at best a tiny area for growth. Scotch whiskey which is internationally consumed is a vanishingly small % of overall UK exports. Sake will never achieve the same popularity - least not in my lifetime.

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@jforce

Aw come on!! Tit for Tat, ne? Fair is fair. While I agree that "Tinkering with the recipes to make it more 'foreign-friendly' is a huge mistake. I mean look at what foreigners did to sushi! I don't want any California-style Nihonshu" that's exactly what the Japanese (and probably others in other cultures) have done to curry and cutlets and wines and god knows what all else. And contrary to their belief, they've not necessarily "improved" the original. They've made it more Japanese. Here in Canada I have a few chefs I can rely on to know what I mean when I say, "I can't afford the air fare. Take my mouth to Japan onegaishimasu."

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I've got to admit, I really enjoy sake from the Hokuriku region. It's not really far from my place and when we go camping in that area, we load up, especially in Niigata like jforce has said. You can find sake 'experts' in most fishing areas, just bring a bottle and you'll make lots of friends, relaxing, fishing, drinking and joking with the old guys who then tell you about the best fishing spots on the coast.

Love that area, Noto in particular is just perfect, with or without sake.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

i'm English and i love good sake. also the person who said no tohoku sake is good doesn't know about Akita sake. so may people abroad know sake is the Japanese national drink but only a few people in the US have actually tried it. personally i think it could be as big as vodka or something.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

The best Nihonshu is not from Tohoku. Let's dispel that myth right away. Nigata and Nagano are in a class all by themselves. As for marketing it overseas, I can only see it as a niche. Educating people on how to drink it, and what to drink it with, would take forever. You need to target Asian consumers and people that actually know something about Japanese cuisine and culture first. Then, you spread it by word of mouth. Tinkering with the recipes to make it more "foreign-friendly" is a huge mistake. I mean look at what foreigners did to sushi! I don't want any California-style Nihonshu.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Another issue, as a rice product Sake needs to be levied with a reciprical %600 tariff. Deal with that Japan. Better you open up your markets and let consumers enjoy more money in their pockets.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

2) Because Europeans have already learned this lesson, and because Japanese have no idea how seriously Europeans take food safety.

Government compensations for tests and contaminated food guarantee that food producers don't cheat or force contaminated or untested food down people's throat. In Europe, you switch labels and you will never again sell any food products. We don't have kizuna fanaticism to cloud what is important.

I'd drink a cup of warm sake... after they all have been tested, and not a second before. Decision to monitor Japanese exports extra carefully is correct and justified.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Sake can have more acceptance and bigger sales if they can make "Sake Light" with low sugar and similar alcohol. Most of the regular Sake has too much sugar.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Two issues with this:

1) Sake has a distinct taste that most people outside asia dislike, regardless of the popularity. Much like Jaggermeister and Southern Comfort here.

2) Why the hell is europe concerned about radiation in drinks when clearly their own farms are many times more contaminated in the first place?

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

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