Discovering new hobbies is a great technique for developing a positive mental health routine and in my case it’s been sake. Since setting off on my journey into the world of nihonshu, I’ve found it’s been a positive experience during times of poor mental health and I wanted to share four ways in which it’s helped.
1. Expanding Knowledge
Learning about sake has provided a sense of purpose on days that might have otherwise been wasted in front of the TV. The industry is so expansive and deep that it’s helped me to discover great sources of information, like the Sake on Air podcast and thought leaders such as John Gauntner and Christopher Pellegrini.
The opportunity to expand my sake knowledge has brought on a sense of satisfaction. But also a hunger for more knowledge. Luckily, there’s still plenty more sake to discover and drink!
2. Indulge a passion
As someone with an appreciation for Japanese culture, sake has helped me to indulge a passion and remind myself of the things that make me happy.
More than that, it’s helped me to see Japanese culture in a new light and appreciate the craftsmanship of the toji and kurabito who pour their hearts and souls into Japan’s national drink.
3. Stepping outside my comfort zone
Living with chronic depression and social anxiety isn’t easy. Sometimes, it makes it hard to see the good that’s right in front of your eyes. But nihonshu has acted as a gateway into a world that’s very welcoming. It’s inspired me to step outside my comfort zone and challenging my social anxiety by actively meeting new people and sharing my interest in sake.
Some examples of this include setting up a Meetup group in my home city of Manchester to introduce sake and Japanese cuisine to like-minded people. Another example was travelling to London to chat to Erika Haigh, owner of the UK’s first dedicated sake bar and shop, Moto and swap a few stories.
Talking about and sharing sake with folks who’re just as passionate about it as I am has helped to reduce my anxiety. It’s given me strength knowing that I can get through it and that’s pretty damn powerful.
4. Exploring new career options
For the longest time, writing has been my biggest passion. It’s guided my career path and kept me moving forward as the foundation for who I am.
But learning about nihonshu has opened my mind to the possibility of taking an active role in the industry as a journalist, reviewer and a sake sommelier in the future.
That revelation has been liberating because it’s reminded me that I don’t have to think of myself as being good at just one thing. There’s a world of endless possibility out there and I’m looking forward to where my sake journey takes me.