Guest Posts

Guest Post: Hirst, Hockney, Ballard-Wyllie And The Timeless Charms Of Cherry Blossom

By Eddie Saint-Jean

Two superstar artists, one aspiring contemporary artist divided on visual language but united by a shared appreciation of Japan’s national flower. The art world has suddenly gone all cherry blossom. And why not? Damien Hirst has gone from pickling sharks, and Swarovski crystal-studded skulls to painting blossoming flowers.

And not to be outdone, David Hockney’s cherry blossom efforts have also been in the news as he swaps paint for an iPad to capture the blossoming magic of spring at his Normandy retreat. London artist Denise Ballard-Wyllie claims she was there first, painting them since she was a child and this passion was rechannelled during a residency at Myddleton House Gardens in Enfield painting cherry blossoms and capturing the super-charged content of nature.

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Guest Posts

Guest Post: The Japanese Way

Japanese baseball player.

For this gaijin, the great enigma of Japan has long been how its people can so readily adopt so much from others and yet remain unmistakably Japanese in spirit.  Americans may be pragmatic enough to adopt things foreign, but they do so only reluctantly and with a sense of defeat.

Not so the Japanese. They readily embrace things foreign with not the least embarrassment or sense of loss.  It all seems more graceful and reasonable than my own country’s way.  Not only is it more graceful, but it somehow enables the Japanese to put their own unique stamp on what not too long before was entirely foreign.  

This is a wonder to me, and no doubt feeds my never-ending interest in Japan and its culture, modern and ancient. Over the years of living in and visiting Japan, questioning and reading, I have failed to fully understand, though at times I have had glimpses of how the process works, and often in the strangest of places.

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Guest Posts · Sake Reviews

Guest Post: Shochikubai Shirakabegura Kimoto Junmai Review

It’s easy to brand Takara Shuzo Co. Ltd as nothing more than an offshoot of the Takara Group (Japan’s leading corporation for alcohol-related business and biotechnology) and all the negative connotations that can come with multinational mass-production. Yet, the brewery, based in the Nada ward of Kobe (one of Japan’s major nihonshu producing regions), have skilfully blended the best parts of traditional sake-making methods and the advantages of modern technology, to create beautiful, authentic, contemporary sake.

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Guest Posts · Sake Reviews

Guest Post: Kuncho Honzojo Review

Kuncho honjozo.

Having already provided a profile on Kuncho Shuzo Co. Ltd in a previous review of their fantastic Kaorucho Junmai, there’s not a lot to add about the ever-popular, Kyushu-based brewery here. That online references to their history and methods of production are minimal is perhaps best respected; especially if it allows their wonderful products to speak for themselves!

Instead, I wanted to say a few words on honjozo, the classification of the Kuncho brew I’ll be opening up today.

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Guest Posts · Sake Reviews

Guest Post: Kuncho Junmai Review


Kuncho Junmai sake.

Whilst Kuncho’s English language online presence is unfortunately minimal, it’s clear that they’re a highly respectable brewery, extremely proud of their underground water supply, and wholly committed to producing excellent quality ‘old-fashioned, unchanging taste’ sake. Housed in a beautifully grand, late-Genroku period (1688-1704) building in Hita city, in the Oita prefecture of Kyoshu island, Kuncho also operate a sake museum and shop.

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Guest Posts · Sake Reviews

Guest Post: Sui Sui Sui Junmai Ginjo By Morikuni Sake Brewery Co. Ltd Review

Craft beer’s monumental shake-up of traditional food and drink combos has seen IPAs, pilsners and stouts appear on the menus of diners for which such a move would have been unthinkable just ten years ago. Where some form of wine was previously the only ‘recommended pairing’ for just about any dish in just about any restaurant, suddenly a good quality beer from the likes of Cloudwater, Verdant or The Kernel is just as acceptable, and arguably more accessible and affordable for many.

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Guest Posts

Guest Post: 4 Sake Recommendations From Nihonshu Expert Justin Potts

Justin Potts.

I’m generally hesitant to recommend a sake based solely on the criteria of a drinker’s lack of experience with the category, and generally leery of any such recommendations, finding most “for first-timer” lists rather dubious at best. The reason is that, even if someone hasn’t had many previous opportunities to encounter sake, it doesn’t mean that they don’t bring a lot to the table. Everyone, whether they are conscious of it or not, comes packed with preferences based on all kinds of food and beverage experiences and influences. From my personal experience, there exists no single “starter sake” (or starter wine, beer, coffee, or any beverage, for that matter), but there does exist an entry point sake unique to each individual at any one point in time. The process of finding that is finding the joy, not just in sake, but across all kinds of food and beverage.

For this list, I’ve put together a few recommendations that I feel are not only reasonable starting points across the spectrum but are also sake that you’ll likely wind up continuing to come back to. Not just because they’re rather tasty, but because they have a lot of subtle character, as well; a lot of which will really become more apparent with time. You’ll get out of these sake as much as the time you’re willing to put into them, which is really true of any healthy relationship, no?

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