In the UK, sake is experiencing something of a revolution through the likes of places like Moto and Kanpai Brewery in the South of England and The Sparrows in the North. Distributors are also leading the charge for getting nihonshu into the hands of the masses, with London Sake being at the forefront of the conversation.
With an ever-growing and diverse portfolio of sake and shochu to choose from, London Sake is a brand that should be on the list of sake fans across the UK and beyond.
I first encountered Morikuni Sake Brewery Co. Ltd (increasingly referred to as Shodoshima Shuzo) via their Hachi Hachi 88 junmai. Using local Oseto rice polished down to just 88%, the golden-coloured thick and nutty brew certainly grabbed my attention as one of the most unique junmai classification sake I’d experienced, and left me longing to try more of the small and very young (established 2005) company’s offerings.
I am delighted to say that tonight I achieved just that, finally getting my hands on each of the beautifully presented 300ml bottles of the Shodashima No Kagayaki range daiginjo and junmai daiginjo (stylised as ‘daiginjyo’ on the labels) via Ukiyo Republic’s online Japanese sake store.
In Japanese culture, few images are more enduring than the geisha. A romantic symbol of classical Japan, geisha are traditionally shown as enigmatic, elegant, powerful, sexual and even lonely figures who have become a shadow of their former selves in the modern day.
Literature and popular culture has over romanticised geisha, though it’s also made it harder to determine what is fact and what is fiction. So, who are the geisha truly? What makes them stand apart in Japanese culture? What were their duties and how did they function in daily society?
The rise of sake continues to be felt in the West, with new breweries emerging every year like bubbles on the surface of the moromi that’s so crucial to nihonshu making. This renaissance is especially true in America and one of the newest American sake breweries on the block is Wetlands Sake.
Based in New Orleans, Wetlands Sake is all about combining southern hospitality with the craftsmanship of excellent sake brewing.
People feel connected to Japan in different ways and in the case of Scott Haas it started when he was thirteen years old. From there, his passion grew and he went on to write about his appreciation for Japanese culture for audiences across the world.
Having recently published a new book called Why Be Happy?, Scott has explored psychology and acceptance through the lens of Japanese culture. Learn more about the book, his backstory and what he’s got planned for the future.
When it comes to cocktails, Japan is an authority in pushing the boundaries of mixed drinks and coming up with new creations. It’s a drinks culture build on innovation, high-quality craftsmanship and storytelling.
The kind of flavours that can be achieved with Japanese ingredients is truly awe-inspiring and it’s fun to experiment with different combinations to see what happens. That’s why I wanted to create a Japanese cocktail that plays with different tastes, so here is a recipe for Okinawa Sunshine.
What do we mean by acceptance? Is it the avoidance of conflict? The understanding that some events are simply beyond our control? Is it the resignation that certain things won’t change? These kinds of questions are asked everyday all over the world and every culture has their own take on what acceptance means.
In Japan, ukeireru is a type of acceptance that the Japanese embrace and Scott Haas is interested in peering behind the curtain to see what exactly it means. In Why Be Happy?: The Japanese Way of Acceptance, Haas explores the concept of ukeireru, what it truly means to accept something and how the power of acceptance can help to build a happier and healthier life.
There’s something magical about cocktails. A story to tell, new ingredients to mix, cultures to share with a wider audience. Japanese cocktail culture has an incredible amount of creativity, from the way certain drinks are made, to the passion of every bartender and mixologist who puts a new concoction in front of their guests.
It’s that kind of energy that’s inspired me to try coming up with my own cocktails. Introducing Wabi-Sabi, a cocktail that taps into the philosophy of transience as viewed through Japanese culture.