A Taste of Japan

As a part of our 2016 trade initiative with Japan, our sales and marketing specialist Jaclyn Beazley toured around Tokyo, Kobe and Osaka in March. The month, which is typically wet and rainy, had a few sunny days she took advantage of discover all she could about Japanese Sake, Whiskey and even Wine!
First: Foodex Trade Show

First: Foodex Trade Show

Photo Credit: Tastings.com
About an hour east of Tokyo overlooking the bay, lies Chiba City. Home of the annual Foodex Expo, a global market show for imported food and beverages. Here, I found Mr. Yoshiharu Ishida from the Akita Sake and Spirits Association eager to talk about his products and learn about American tasting habits. Did you know the Akita prefecture is in the northwestern corner of Honshu island amongst rugged mountains and snowy winters? Like some place out of a fairy tale, it is well known for the abundant, pure fresh water from its snowfall and ample rice used in the Sake production. While most of Mr. Ishida's brands are not available in the US market, stay tuned to Tastings.com as we review them in the future, including their Japanese, grape-based wines.

Learn more about Akita brands.

Second: Stir Up Some Sake

Second: Stir Up Some Sake

Photo Credit: Tastings.com
About a four hour train ride south of Tokyo lies the city of Kobe. I took a bullet train which hits speeds up to 160 miles per hour - no kidding! Here, I met with the Shirakashi family, owners and managers of the Kenbishi Sake Brewery. Young, smart and effortlessly cool, the Shirakashis exemplify their label's 500-year-old history by following minimal intervention in the production process and age-old production techniques of 'koji' (a type of mold) in Sake making. They also employ hundreds of workers from October through January during the rice harvest and production months.

Here I take a stir of the 'moromi' or main mash of steamed rice, koji, yeast, and water. Learn more about 'koji' and the Sake process.

Third: Stop at Yamazaki Distillery

Third: Stop at Yamazaki Distillery

Photo Credit: Tastings.com
Nestled atop the forested hills of Yamazaki, a small town near Osaka, lies Beam Suntory's crown jewel: the Yamazaki Distillery. Here I found 16 differently shaped stills - an engineering feat for crafting many different Whiskey styles - all under one roof. Did you know Suntory's gem also has a special relationship with the University of Tokyo and uniquely has the rights to the Mizunara Forest? It is this unique oak that has the world going wild for Japanese whiskey. Luckily, the distillery has sourced its wood barrels for many years worth of aging its whiskey and released a 25-year aged in the wood that can fetch upwards of $4,000 per bottle.

Have a look at a Yamazaki whiskey Tastings.com tasted and rated here.

Fourth: Finally Go Shopping

Fourth: Finally Go Shopping

Photo Credit: Tastings.com
Back 'round to Tokyo and before my return flight home, I enjoyed a day of shopping in the Ginza district. I couldn't resist. It's a super posh neighborhood only a few minutes walk from Tokyo Station. The Ginza shops will delight your senses with sakura blossom tree boardwalks and delicious aromas of espresso cafes and chocolatiers. And what better way to experience Japan, a global retail giant, than by popping into its many Sake shops and Tempura restaurants here.

Find your next destination in Ginza.

First: Foodex Trade Show
Second: Stir Up Some Sake
Third: Stop at Yamazaki Distillery
Fourth: Finally Go Shopping
A Taste of Japan
As a part of our 2016 trade initiative with Japan, our sales and marketing specialist Jaclyn Beazley toured around Tokyo, Kobe and Osaka in March. The month, which is typically wet and rainy, had a few sunny days she took advantage of discover all she could about Japanese Sake, Whiskey and even Wine!

First: Foodex Trade Show

First: Foodex Trade Show
Photo Credit: Tastings.com
About an hour east of Tokyo overlooking the bay, lies Chiba City. Home of the annual Foodex Expo, a global market show for imported food and beverages. Here, I found Mr. Yoshiharu Ishida from the Akita Sake and Spirits Association eager to talk about his products and learn about American tasting habits. Did you know the Akita prefecture is in the northwestern corner of Honshu island amongst rugged mountains and snowy winters? Like some place out of a fairy tale, it is well known for the abundant, pure fresh water from its snowfall and ample rice used in the Sake production. While most of Mr. Ishida's brands are not available in the US market, stay tuned to Tastings.com as we review them in the future, including their Japanese, grape-based wines.

Learn more about Akita brands.

Second: Stir Up Some Sake

Second: Stir Up Some Sake
Photo Credit: Tastings.com
About a four hour train ride south of Tokyo lies the city of Kobe. I took a bullet train which hits speeds up to 160 miles per hour - no kidding! Here, I met with the Shirakashi family, owners and managers of the Kenbishi Sake Brewery. Young, smart and effortlessly cool, the Shirakashis exemplify their label's 500-year-old history by following minimal intervention in the production process and age-old production techniques of 'koji' (a type of mold) in Sake making. They also employ hundreds of workers from October through January during the rice harvest and production months.

Here I take a stir of the 'moromi' or main mash of steamed rice, koji, yeast, and water. Learn more about 'koji' and the Sake process.

Third: Stop at Yamazaki Distillery

Third: Stop at Yamazaki Distillery
Photo Credit: Tastings.com
Nestled atop the forested hills of Yamazaki, a small town near Osaka, lies Beam Suntory's crown jewel: the Yamazaki Distillery. Here I found 16 differently shaped stills - an engineering feat for crafting many different Whiskey styles - all under one roof. Did you know Suntory's gem also has a special relationship with the University of Tokyo and uniquely has the rights to the Mizunara Forest? It is this unique oak that has the world going wild for Japanese whiskey. Luckily, the distillery has sourced its wood barrels for many years worth of aging its whiskey and released a 25-year aged in the wood that can fetch upwards of $4,000 per bottle.

Have a look at a Yamazaki whiskey Tastings.com tasted and rated here.

Fourth: Finally Go Shopping

Fourth: Finally Go Shopping
Photo Credit: Tastings.com
Back 'round to Tokyo and before my return flight home, I enjoyed a day of shopping in the Ginza district. I couldn't resist. It's a super posh neighborhood only a few minutes walk from Tokyo Station. The Ginza shops will delight your senses with sakura blossom tree boardwalks and delicious aromas of espresso cafes and chocolatiers. And what better way to experience Japan, a global retail giant, than by popping into its many Sake shops and Tempura restaurants here.

Find your next destination in Ginza.