Pop Culture and Japan

Delving Into The 5 Main Styles Of Shochu

In recent years, the spirits category has experienced great change, with vodka, whisky and gin having their time in the sun. In an age where consumers are becoming more open to trying new experiences, there’s an exciting opportunity for new spirits to move into the limelight and Japanese shochu is at the forefront of the conversation.

Japan’s national spirit is made from a wide range of starch-based starters that are combined with koji and water to produce distilled alcohol. Let’s take a look at the five most common styles of honkaku {single-distilled) shochu.

Continue reading “Delving Into The 5 Main Styles Of Shochu”


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


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


Connection to culture

Can I?

Keep moving


I cry

Can I?


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


Can I?

I can


A dream


The life I’m living

At last

I’m here


I’m living

A feeling

Without fear


Clear eyes

Blue skies

The future is bright 

Shochu Reviews

Majo No Itazura Witch’s Kiss Shochu Review: Somewhere Between Liquid Roast Dinner And A Whisky Lover’s Dream

Majo no Itazura shochu.

When it comes to predicting the next big spirit, I believe shochu has the potential to take the world by storm and introduce consumers to a whole new range of flavours. There’s still a lot of education to be shared about Japan’s national spirit in the west and writing about it is my way of contributing to the shochu revolution!

One of the most unusual shochu that I’ve tasted recently is Majo no Itazura, a playful, potent drink that’s ideal for the colder months. Somewhere between a liquid roast dinner and a whisky lover’s dream, this is a drink that defies expectations and has plenty of backstory. Continue reading “Majo No Itazura Witch’s Kiss Shochu Review: Somewhere Between Liquid Roast Dinner And A Whisky Lover’s Dream”

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.

Continue reading “Pop Culture Pub Crawl: Katana”

Pop Culture and Japan

The Pop Culture Pub Crawl: Wolverine (Part 2)

The Pop Culture Pub Crawl highlights the drinking habits of different superheroes and Wolverine has a reputation for being one of the booziest members of the X-Men. Wolverine’s love of Japanese culture is one of his defining traits, so let’s take a look at the type of hooch that he’d drink when out on the town in Japan.

Continue reading “The Pop Culture Pub Crawl: Wolverine (Part 2)”

Shochu Reviews

BrewDog Inugami Shochu Review: An Irreverent Western Approach To A Japanese Spirit

Inugami shochu is created by BrewDog.

Shochu is one of the world’s most diverse spirits, thanks to the plethora of ingredients it can be made from and the range of styles it can be enjoyed in. Outside of Japan, shochu awareness is becoming more apparent and some western distilleries are looking at how to incorporate it into their portfolio. 

UK-based drink mavericks BrewDog took the plunge by creating the UK’s first shochu Inugami. While I’m happy that shochu has been introduced through a western lens, it’s important to point out how Inugami differs from traditional shochu so consumers can make an informed buying decision.

Continue reading “BrewDog Inugami Shochu Review: An Irreverent Western Approach To A Japanese Spirit”

Shochu Reviews

Beniotome Red Maiden Black Shochu Review: Earthy, Savoury And Intense

If you’re looking to step outside your comfort zone with a unique kind of drink they you can’t go wrong with shochu. Japan’s national spirit is made with a smorgasbord of different ingredients, with one of the most interesting being sesame seeds. 

Beniotome Red Maiden Black is the first sesame shochu I’ve tried and it’s one of the most multifaceted drinks I’ve come across on my shochu journey so far. 

Continue reading “Beniotome Red Maiden Black Shochu Review: Earthy, Savoury And Intense”

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.

Continue reading “Shochu Glossary: The Lexicon Of Japan’s National Spirit”

The Kokoro Files

The Kokoro Files: Christopher Pellegrini

The Kokoro Files shares the stories of people and their connection to Japan, and this edition is particularly exciting for me because I had the opportunity to chat with one of the world’s leading authorities on shochu, Chris Pellegrini. A Japanese spirit evangelist, Chris is passionate about spreading the gospel of shochu and awamori. He definitely made a convert out of me!

From talking shochu 101, to clearing up the differences between shochu and Korean soju, we cover a lot of ground in this interview. Read on to discover the exciting world of Japan’s indigenous spirit. Who knows? By the time you’ve finished reading you might be ready to jump down the rabbit hole.

Continue reading “The Kokoro Files: Christopher Pellegrini”

Shochu Reviews

Tatsugo Gold Shochu Review: Silky, Smooth And Mellow

Tatsugo gold is a kokuto shochu produced on Amami Island by the Machida Shuzo brewery.

Since being bitten by the shochu bug, I’ve been on a mission to try as many different types of Japan’s national spirit as possible. From sweet potato to barley, the base ingredients of shochu are as diverse as the breweries that produce such a fine drink.

Brown sugar is another popular ingredient and I recently got my hands on a shochu that falls into this category called Tatsugo gold. Continue reading “Tatsugo Gold Shochu Review: Silky, Smooth And Mellow”