The Kokoro Files

The Kokoro Files: Sam Boulton

Over the years, the sake scene in the UK has got stronger, with most activity concentrated in London. This progress is gradually expanding out from the capital and Sam Boulton is one of the key movers.

The owner of Birmingham sake bar, Shibuya Underground, Boulton is keen to bring more awareness to nihonshu, shochu and awamori to UK consumers. He’s also a man after my own heart by being interested in a variety of obscure drinks that deserve more recognition.

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Pop Culture and Japan

Sake, Shochu And Drinks Galore: Launching The Drink To That Newsletter

Being in a bar or a restaurant is transformative. Venues like that are an intersection of new cultures, communication, excitement and storytelling. Drinks play a vital role in creating these experiences, with Japanese drinks like sake and shochu elevating nights out, intimate lunches and conversations with friends.

Sake is one of my favourite drinks. But it’s not the only thing that floats my boat. I’m pleased to announce the launch of Drink To That, a newsletter for imbibing knowledge, celebrating the hospitality industry and providing content marketing tips for drink brands.

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Japanese Cuisine

Okinawa Sunshine Cocktail Recipe: Celebrating The Stories And Spirits Of Okinawa

Okinawa Sunshine uses Yokka Koji awamori and Cor Cor rum.

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.

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Awamori Reviews

Chuko Yokka Koji Awamori Review: A Complex And Earthy Spirit Perfect For Whisky Drinkers

Yokka Koji awamori.

The world of Japanese spirits is truly fascinating, as it taps into centuries of tradition, culture and craftsmanship. Awamori channels all of those aspects into liquid form, as unique as Okinawa. 

All of the awamori distilleries in Okinawa are passionate about sharing their products and one of the most innovative brands is Chuko, who’ve created the awesome Yokka Koji awamori. I was recently able to get my hands on a bottle of the stuff and it blew me away.

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Pop Culture and Japan

6 Amazing Facts About Awamori

Japanese spirits are steadily increasing in popularity, with more consumers being willing to try new drinks and learn about the history of the beverages. Despite this, there is still a lack of awareness about what makes spirits like shochu and awamori unique, especially the latter. 

Awamori is generally lumped into the shochu category, but it stands alone with its own special history and importance. With that in mind, here are six amazing facts about awamori to demystify this ancient spirit.

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Poetry

Can I?

Can I?

I ask myself this everyday

Can I?

Be someone proud

Can I?

Be someone who goes to Japan

A dream within a dream

Living outside

An existential crisis

Can I?

Live with being me

A contradiction 

Up and down

Travel or no

Paralysed

Frozen inbetween

Can I?

Be a father

A man to lead generations

Children who look up

To the guy who was meant to lead the way

I don’t know

I’m drowning

In indecision

I’m shattered

Pick myself back together

Can I?

Survive the pandemic

Living alone

It’s scary

I feel the weight

Unknown shadows

On my shoulders

Can I?

Be the man

Inside my mind

Samurai 

Connection to culture

Can I?

Keep moving

Uncertainty

I cry

Can I?

Breathe

I’m suffocating

Can I?

Live with myself

Can I?

Not be drunk

Making excuses

Can I?

Listen to myself

Find the answer

Can I?

Bear the pain

Move beyond suicide

Can I?

Explore Hokkaido

Eat ramen in an izakaya

Drink sake in a brewery

Be the gaijn in Roppongi

Dance awkwardly to K-pop

Dive into Kyushu

Drinking shochu

Can I?

Lie on a beach in Okinawa

Speak of the habushu myth

In bars with old men

Still trying to get it up

Can I?

Sip awamori

See kame

Melded before me

Can I?

Accept the things

That can’t be controlled

I don’t know

I’m trying

Forgive me

I will

One day

I see the dawn

Rising

Can I?

I can

Completed

A dream

Reality

The life I’m living

At last

I’m here

Peace

I’m living

A feeling

Without fear

Amazing

Clear eyes

Blue skies

The future is bright 

Poetry

A Life Distilled

Awamori Kame pots used for ageing.

You were born on the day of a storm

The weather matching the thunder and lightning

Rattling inside my chest from the moment

You were due to come into the world

I’ll never forget the gentle heartbeat

Or the tiny hand you placed into mine

The spark of potential that flashed in your eyes 

Was preserved inside the kame

Sealed with a handprint

Years of maturation

Cultivated with love and care

Until the boy became a man

And what a man you’ve become

Strong, brave, compassionate

Together we’ll drink the memories

That have aged in awamori

Nuanced flavours of a life

Still maturing 

Becoming more complex

With every new experience 

Set aside a fresh kame

Fill it with the hopes and dreams of your children

Teach them a life distilled 

Is a life worth cherishing

Pop Culture and Japan

Pop Culture Pub Crawl: Katana

Being a superhero is a tough gig. There are innocent lives to save, bad guys to stop and ideals to live up to. So, when a character like Katana finds a moment to herself, she’ll want to make the most of it. The Pop Culture Pub Crawl investigates the drinking habits of different superheroes.

With her dedication to Japanese tradition, I’d see Katana carrying out a personal drinking ritual that would bring her closer to her ancestors.

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Awamori Reviews

Udisan No Sake Awamori Review: Pure Joy To Drink And Savour

Udisan No Sake Awamori is produced by the Miyanohana brewery.

Okinawa has a rich drinking history, which is represented by awamori, the region’s national spirit. The older cousin of shochu, awamori stands out as its own category and has some of the most unique flavour profiles to be found anywhere in the world.

Awamori is undoubtedly one of my favourite spirits, so it’s even more thrilling to come across a type that breaks the traditional mould and does its own thing. I’m talking about Udisan No Sake Awamori, a delicious floral concoction that conjures images of clear skies and tropical beaches.

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Pop Culture and Japan

Shochu Glossary: The Lexicon Of Japan’s National Spirit

Japan is known for having a unique drinking culture, best represented by sake/nihonshu in the west. But to leave out Japan’s national spirit, shochu, would be a massive disservice to the distillers who work tirelessly to produce one of the most versatile drinks in the world.

Education about shochu and its older cousin awamori is still lacking in western culture. But to help people learn more about it, Yamato Magazine has provided a glossary of essential shochu terms.

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