Episode 64 Show Notes
Episode 64. This week John and Timothy had the great privilege to talk with Miho Fujita, the president of Mioya Shuzo, the makers of Yuho sake. Fujita-san did not take the usual path to running a sake brewery, which is most often handed down in a family from generation to generation. Coming from a corporate background, she found herself with the chance to step in and help the brewery with marketing and sales. Eventually she became the president as well as a dedicated, hands-on brewer herself. The Yuho sake style is bold and hearty and a style that Fujita-san herself loves to pair with many types of cuisine. Aging and decanting are both encouraged to embolden flavors. Mioya Shuzo is located in Hakui, Ishikawa prefecture, a town so famous for UFO sightings that it has a dedicated Space and UFO museum. While she hasn’t spotted a UFO herself, I think it is safe to say that Fujita-san’s Yuho sake is simply outta of this world.
Skip to: 00:19
Welcome to the show from John and Timothy
About Miho Fujita and Mioya Shuzo:
From Vine Connections:
President Miho Fujita, a single career woman from Tokyo with no prior knowledge of sake, and Toji Yokomichi-san, who left his corporate job to pursue sake, do not follow traditional brewing methods—they brew the sake they enjoy drinking. Miho-san believes her sake can stay open for longer than most – she personally likes to drink them after being open for 1-2 months.
About Mioya Shuzo:
Cosmo Isle Hakui Space and UFOs Museum is a great place to learn about UFO sightings in Hakui, Ishikawa, the home town of Mioya sake brewery.
A visit to the Hakui Space Museum:
Yuho Kimoto Junmai
Brewery: Mioya Shuzo
Classification: Junmai, Kimoto
Rice Type: Notohikari
Importer: Vine Connections (USA)
Sake Name English: Rhythm of the Centuries
Brand: Yuho (遊穂)
View on UrbanSake.com: Yuho Kimoto Junmai
NOTE: Use Discount Code “REVOLUTION” for 10% off your first order with Tippsy Sake.
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Episode 64 Transcript
John Puma: 0:21
Hello everybody. And welcome to Sake Revolution. This is America’s first sake podcast. I am your host, John Puma from the Sake Notes. Also the administrator over at the internet Sake Discord. Please do drop in and say hi sometime. I’m also the guy on the show who is not a Sake Samurai.
Timothy Sullivan: 0:41
And I am your host, Timothy Sullivan. I am a Sake Samurai. I’m also a sake educator and also I’m the founder of the Urban Sake website. And every week John and I will be here tasting and chatting about all things sake and doing our best to make it fun and easy to understand.
John Puma: 0:59
Fantastic, Tim. Uh, and I think is this, I could be wrong. Is this another one of those very special episodes?
Timothy Sullivan: 1:07
This is another V-V.I.P episode,
John Puma: 1:12
Okay. All right. And,
Timothy Sullivan: 1:14
Double double very.
John Puma: 1:15
Double very that’s. That is, that is extra very, that’s very nice. That’s very, very nice.
Timothy Sullivan: 1:21
Yes, we are. We are going to be heading again outside of the U S and we’re going to be welcoming another Japanese sake brewery president to sit down and talk with us.
John Puma: 1:33
oh, outside of the U S don’t we wish, uh, that sounds like a fantastic time.
Timothy Sullivan: 1:41
I absolutely love this series. We’ve been learning so much talking to Japanese sake brewers, and I know we’re going to keep this up as much as we can this year, but today we have a wonderful brewer to welcome. I’d like to welcome Miho Fujita. Ms. Fujita is the current president of Mioya Shuzo, which was founded in 1897 in Ishikawa prefecture, Japan. She is not only one of the few female sake brewery presidents in Japan, but she also works hard as a hands-on brewer crafting her sake. Now the representative brand for Mioya Shuzo is Yuho and this means happy rice, but in Japanese, it also sounds a lot like U F O, which is a nod to the many UFO sightings in Ishikawa. Now the socks in the yuho lineup are generally known as robust and Hardy, and they can be enjoyed months after opening. We are so excited to talk to Ms. Fujita today and taste her sake as well. Fujita san, welcome to the podcast.
Miho Fujita: 2:53
Hello. Thank you for having me.
Timothy Sullivan: 2:57
could you tell us a little bit about your career path to becoming a sake maker? And how did you end up running a sake brewery?
Miho Fujita: 3:08
As you well know, a sake brewery is usually a family business that is handed down from generation to generation. But for us, it’s a little bit different. My father is from Ishikawa prefecture, but he ended up working in Tokyo and our ancestors had nothing to do with sake making. I was born and raised in Tokyo, myself. About 40 years ago, my father was asked to help out a sake brewery that was going out of business. But at that time I was working in Tokyo and I had no intentions of working in the sake brewing industry. As a side note, I was actually working for the American company Mattel. And I was in charge of making hot wheels.
Timothy Sullivan: 3:47
Wow. I, I,
John Puma: 3:49
the little cars.
Timothy Sullivan: 3:50
I, I played with those as a child. Did you play with those?
John Puma: 3:54
Oh, of course. Yes.
Timothy Sullivan: 3:55
course. Yes. Wonderful.
John Puma: 3:58
Hot wheels end um matchbox
Timothy Sullivan: 3:59
Miho Fujita: 4:07
Back then my uncle was working as the vice-president at the brewery and he was about to retire. And so I kind of took it upon myself to start working at the sake brewery. Back then at
John Puma: 4:18
Miho Fujita: 4:18
Mioya Sake Brewery, we only sold regular sake to the local market. my first impression coming here was, oh, I have made the biggest mistake of my life and that my life is over.
John Puma: 4:30
Timothy Sullivan: 4:32
That’s pretty bad.
Miho Fujita: 4:37
Now I had no intention of becoming the CEO or the president. Also. I had no friends around here in the beginning. I was just working in the administration of the brewery and everyone working here at the same time was much older than me. And in Japan, the sales of futsushu, or regular sake were going down a lot due to the aging population. And so, like I mentioned before, I was really not interested in becoming the brewery president. but my father asked me to become the vice president and I was in charge of marketing. But at that time I was very afraid that we would go out of business.
John Puma: 5:11
Miho Fujita: 5:12
Before coming to Mioya Brewery. I had no interest in sake. I did not know any of the big brands of sake. And so I had to learn quickly by trying a lot of different sake styles and visiting many different sake breweries.
John Puma: 5:27
So, so before that you did not drink sake for, for your own, enjoyment?,
Miho Fujita: 5:37
Well, yes. Sometimes I did drink sake, but I never checked the labels or anything. So I was probably drinking something that was cheap. As I started studying more about sake, I realized how wonderful sake really is. And also I started to make more and more friends in the industry. I also started realizing that there are really good quality sakes out there, which were becoming very trendy and were selling well in the big city. Also around the same time, our former toji or master brewer quit. And so we welcomed our new Toji. Mr. Toshiaki. At that time, we wanted to move on from making a futsushu, to something that had much more character to it. Something that was new. Luckily for me, the new Toji had a lot of experience and skill and really understood what I wanted. What was even more lucky was that the sake style that I wanted to make and the sake style that the Toji wanted to make were similar. And that was back in 2007. And that is how Yuho got started.
John Puma: 6:44
Wonderful. Thank you. so, we know you are the, brewery president, but most brewery presidents. Don’t get involved. Hands-on with making a sake that often. Uh, how did you learn the skills to go about doing sake brewing?
Miho Fujita: 7:04
I was actually more interested in learning about the crafting of the sake than in becoming president of the company.
John Puma: 7:10
Miho Fujita: 7:11
And so I took it upon myself to ask the Toji, if I could study under him..
Timothy Sullivan: 7:16
Wow. So that’s really, that’s amazing. Now I have a question about, Ishikawa, could you tell us a little bit about the sake scene in Ishikawa? And if there is a regional style for your area,
Miho Fujita: 7:34
First, you should know that Ishikawa prefecture is right next to the sea. And we’re located on the Noto Penninsula. And also there is the Noto Toji Guild, which is one of our famous Toji guilds in Japan. There are 35 sake breweries in Ishikawa prefecture, to be honest, regarding the regional style or characteristics, every brewery is very different,
Timothy Sullivan: 7:57
Miho Fujita: 8:02
but I guess if there’s a common characteristic, it would come from the Noto Toji. Ishikawa is famous for its number 14, sake brewing yeast. This yeast is very gentle and it makes sake that goes well with food. But what I can say is that we bring the umami flavors out of the rice using the power of Koji.
Timothy Sullivan: 8:22
Miho Fujita: 8:23
And that’s probably the common denominator, but every brewer will be different. And there are many breweries in Ishikawa that do Yamahai style sake. That’s my impression.
John Puma: 8:35
Great. So, um, speaking of Ishikawa, uh, and your sake to be, we keep hearing that, uh, Chicago is known for UFO sightings. What is up with what is up with the UFO sightings? What is up with UFO’s? Have you seen a UFO?
Timothy Sullivan: 8:56
Miho Fujita: 9:02
It’s not actually Ishikawa prefecture, but it’s in the city that I am in haiku city. That’s really famous for UFO sighting. And there is a science and space museum in the city that is dedicated to UFO’s and they have many UFO conventions. And once a TV station based in Osaka, came to our city to ask the locals. If they had seen a UFO and unfortunately, no one they talked to had ever seen a UFO.
John Puma: 9:36
Miho Fujita: 9:37
get asked all the time, if I’ve seen UFO’s before. I always say the same thing. If you drink Yuho then you probably can see a UFO.
Timothy Sullivan: 9:48
Yeah. If You drink a whole bottle, right.
Miho Fujita: 9:50
You should drink a whole bottle. Yes,
Timothy Sullivan: 9:54
Fantastic. Yeah, I think, I think if, I think if aliens come from outer space, I think of aliens come. I think they’re really going to enjoy drinking sake.
John Puma: 10:06
I think so.
Miho Fujita: 10:13
I think so, too.
Timothy Sullivan: 10:15
Oh, all right. Well, uh, question about overseas now. Um, what are your views on selling sake overseas versus domestically? And how has the demand of the international market kind of influenced the style of sake that you make?
Miho Fujita: 10:49
Okay. So our main export market is the USA, but we really don’t do anything differently when making sake for the domestic or international markets. We just make it because there is demand and some people who want to drink our sake. so the toji and I don’t think we can differentiate and make different types of sake geared towards different markets. The company that imports our sake to the United States is called vine connections. And I was very happy because they actually chose my favorite sake to export to the United States. So right now we are focused on making good sake regardless of the market being in Japan or in America.
Timothy Sullivan: 11:28
That’s great. Yeah.
Miho Fujita: 11:30
May I add one more thing? America has a very strong wine culture. And so I believe that in that culture, you are always pairing with food. I believe that our sake really goes well with food. And so in that regard, I’m always very happy to introduce our sake..
John Puma: 11:49
so these days we have a lot of sake breweries, overseas, producing sake. what do you think about that? About people making sake outside of jail? Uh, is this a competition or does it, compliment the Japanese made, sake? Yeah.
Miho Fujita: 12:08
I think this is wonder. I’m hoping that everyone feels that sake is something close to them. I’m starting to realize the brewers overseas are making really, really good sake.
John Puma: 12:23
Miho Fujita: 12:24
So they are actually really strong competitors for me. And so I have to up my game all the time.
Timothy Sullivan: 12:36
Have you had a chance to try any sake from overseas?
Miho Fujita: 12:50
Yes, I have, I have visited Brooklyn Kura and I visited twice. And in the second year they improved so much. I was quite impressed.
Timothy Sullivan: 13:00
Wonderful. Now, going back to your sake that you produce, you mentioned that, uh, your sake is very food friendly. Can you tell us in general about your brewing style, for example, we heard you recommend decanting your sake. Can you, can you tell us more?
Miho Fujita: 13:22
reason why we chose to do this style is because we are close to the ocean. There are many sakes that really pair well with seafood. The Yuho brand was created 16 years ago. Now, again, I’m originally from Tokyo and I really didn’t know anything about Ishikawa. Our Toji is a Noto Toji, but he is originally from Osaka and he started brewing there. So regarding our style of sake, you could say that it’s made by two people that really don’t know anything about food in Ishikawa prefecture. And of course there are many famous sake breweries in Ishikawa. So we stopped thinking about making Ishikawa style sake at our brewery. And so we thought of making a sake that we could drink every night, that pairs with the kind of food that we would have for dinner. I was really into pork back then. And so I thought of making a sake that goes well with pork and our Toji was from Osaka. And so he wanted a sake that went well with the soul food of Osaka Okonomiyaki. And as a result, our sake has a high acidity and strong Umami. One type of sake we made is aged for one year. Another type is aged up to three years because the acidity is so strong, we have to age them much like wine. When serving, we recommend that you open it up and decant as this will make the sake taste more mild, and it’s better. If the sake is not over chilled, as it will be easier to appreciate the taste. If it is a hot environment, then maybe chilling to about 60 degrees, Fahrenheit would be a good temperature.
John Puma: 15:12
So we have, prepared the Yuho Kimoto Junmai to taste together with you. would you mind introducing the sake to our listeners?
Miho Fujita: 15:24
Okay, this is Yuho Kimoto Junmai. It was aged for about four years. And the rice we used to make the sake is actually a table rice that is harvested regionally. And we store this sake in the bottle and we actually keep it stored at room temperature. It’s when you drink halfway that you start to see the magic.
John Puma: 15:47
And at what point do we see the UFO’s
Timothy Sullivan: 15:54
The other, the other half of the bottle.
John Puma: 15:56
down the bottom?
Timothy Sullivan: 15:59
I think when you pour this sake into the glass, one of the first things you notice is the color. So this, you must have a no charcoal filtering. Is that right?
Miho Fujita: 16:11
Timothy Sullivan: 16:14
So let’s talk about the aroma first.
Miho Fujita: 16:25
I think we, as Japanese are not good at explaining different aromas and fragrances. uh, what do you guys think? Perhaps a slight honey-like aroma that comes from aging.
Timothy Sullivan: 16:39
yeah, yes, yes. I was going to say that. When they teach us to assess aroma as a sake sommelier, one of the aromas we look for is aged aroma. And it’s, uh, you get that here. You can smell a little bit of the aged quality of this sake.
John Puma: 16:59
So that’s what they teach you guys.
Timothy Sullivan: 17:01
That’s what they teach. And it also smells to me like there’s some rice or grain aroma as well,
John Puma: 17:12
I got, I of like a little bit of like Carmel
Timothy Sullivan: 17:15
Hmm. Could this be considered a Koshu or aged on purpose sake?.
Miho Fujita: 17:25
Maybe it can be considered Koshu, but I actually don’t like the sound of that. So we don’t call it a Koshu style.
Timothy Sullivan: 17:31
John Puma: 17:32
Timothy Sullivan: 17:33
Yeah, let’s give it, let’s give it a taste. Hmm, Hmm.
Miho Fujita: 17:48
The acid profile is still there, but as it has been resting for four years, it feels more mild.
Timothy Sullivan: 17:54
John Puma: 17:56
Timothy Sullivan: 17:56
Yeah, there’s a, there’s a, um, bright acidity, but, uh, it is mellowed. I understand what you’re saying. Yeah.
John Puma: 18:06
Timothy Sullivan: 18:07
And there’s a lot of umami flavors
John Puma: 18:10
Timothy Sullivan: 18:11
now. I want, I want pork too.
John Puma: 18:14
I had, I had pork for dinner and I’m like regretting not having drank this with my dinner because I think it would be perfect.
Miho Fujita: 18:22
It also goes well with vegetables that have a bit of bitterness.
John Puma: 18:26
Hm. Like maybe like a, a asparagus
Timothy Sullivan: 18:30
Asparagus or artichokes. that type of the bitter bitter green vegetables are very hard to pair with wine. And, uh, I think, uh, sake with a strong umami is a wonderful substitute.
Miho Fujita: 18:50
bitterness really goes well with our sake. And I also recommend pairing it with a hard cheese as well. And before you know, it you’ll be finishing the bottle..
John Puma: 19:03
Timothy Sullivan: 19:04
that’s great. Now I have one, one more, a little bit more technical question. This is a Kimoto sake and that is a more labor intensive way of making the shubo or the yeast starter. Uh, why, what, why did you choose Kimoto which is more difficult. Why did you choose Kimoto over sokujo?
Miho Fujita: 19:32
So upon starting Yuho I wanted an aged sake that would be there for three years. Why? I don’t know, but I think it’s because I had experienced that style of sake at one point at some other brewery.
Timothy Sullivan: 19:47
Miho Fujita: 19:48
And I had a conversation with the toji and I wanted to make a sake that was bold and strong yet has this lightness to it. And so I chose the Kimoto style, but more important. Both the toji and I wanted to work with Kimoto
Timothy Sullivan: 20:08
is all your production Kimoto method or just a portion?.
Miho Fujita: 20:16
no, only about 35% of our production is Kimoto.
Timothy Sullivan: 20:21
Wonderful. And, uh, maybe one more question about temperature. We mentioned decanting before, and that encourages exposure to oxygen. And what are your thoughts on the serving temperature for this sake and also decanting?
Miho Fujita: 20:44
I think it might depend on where you are in the environment in which you are drinking. But I would recommend on average, a temperature that you would use for drinking a full bodied red wine. When I introduced my sake in Miami and said to serve at room temperature, it was way too warm.
Timothy Sullivan: 21:02
John Puma: 21:04
well, that is, that is the room there.
Miho Fujita: 21:07
So maybe drinking it after it’s been outside of the refrigerator for 20 or 30 minutes would be good. But if you want to chill in the fridge and drink at a colder temperature, I guess that’s okay too. Um, you’re free to just enjoy it the way you like it.
Timothy Sullivan: 21:22
that’s good to hear from the sake maker. All right. So we’re going to be wrapping up with two more questions. Uh, the first question is what are your hopes for the sake industry in Japan and abroad? What do you hope for the future of the sake industry?
Miho Fujita: 21:46
With the Corona pandemic, it’s just been so difficult. So I just want everything to go back to normal.
Timothy Sullivan: 21:55
Miho Fujita: 21:56
And in Japan, the younger generation still thinks that sake is difficult to get started with but I just want sake to be a norm where people don’t really have to think about how to drink and that it will become just an everyday part of life. And the same in America. There are so many good sakes out there. And if you don’t experience sake, then you’re really missing out. So I hope people out there really do get a chance to enjoy sake sometimes.
John Puma: 22:25
So our show is, focused, mainly on people who are new to sake and who have, uh, just having their first sips first getting used to it and they want to learn more. Uh, do you have any final messages for these listeners out there who are just getting into sake?
Miho Fujita: 22:47
You might have a sip and you might think are sake is not your taste in the beginning. It really changes along with the food that you’re pairing with and also the temperature. And so if you’re interested in sake, I hope that you change it up a little bit and experience different styles and ways to drink sake.
John Puma: 23:04
Tim, that’s perfect for you.
Timothy Sullivan: 23:06
Yes. That was actually my new year’s resolution this year was to drink sakes that, um, are outside my comfort zone. So kind of new styles for me. That was my new year’s resolution this year. Fujita-san, you so much. for joining us. It was an absolute pleasure to talk with you and your sakes very delicious.
John Puma: 23:30
Timothy Sullivan: 23:31
I can’t wait to pair it with, uh, many styles of food. Thank you so much for taking the time today.
Miho Fujita: 23:43
Thank you for this great opportunity.
John Puma: 23:45
Timothy Sullivan: 23:47
Fujita-san, thank you so much. It was an absolute pleasure to talk to you. I want to thank you so much for joining us and for answering all our questions and we are going to be on the lookout for UFO’s over Manhattan. After drinking the sake with you.
John Puma: 24:01
Uh, all right, I’ll meet you on the roof. We’ll we’ll do the bottle and, uh, I’ll see what we find,
Timothy Sullivan: 24:07
bring the tinfoil hat.
John Puma: 24:09
bear in mind. There are a lot of helicopters in this area, so that is not a UFO. We can identify those objects.
Timothy Sullivan: 24:15
Okay. Well, I’m just going to keep drinking Yuho until I see one. That’s just how it’s going to go.
John Puma: 24:20
Okay. That sounds like a plan to me.
Timothy Sullivan: 24:23
again, Fujita san. Thank you so much for joining us. Uh, I’d also like to thank our listeners for tuning in. If you want to show your support for sake revolution, the best way to help us out would be to back us on patreon.
John Puma: 24:34
and that’s over at Patreon.com/SakeRevolution.
Timothy Sullivan: 24:39
If you want to join us at the $5 level per month, you can get access to our monthly sake revolution, happy hour, which is held on zoom. Live, and you can talk to us and sit with us and we can’t wait to meet you there. If you want to join us at the $3 level per month, you get access to knowledge two weeks ahead of time, what we’ll be drinking. So you can sip along with us when you listen to the episode,
John Puma: 25:08
and, be sure to subscribe to Sake Revolution, wherever you download your podcasts and leave us a review, leaving us a review is still a great way to get the word out about the show. Also telling your friend right up there, tell your friends and subscribe to our podcast and then everybody gets our podcast every week when we push it out there on their device of choice, without any intervention..
Timothy Sullivan: 25:35
And as always to learn more about any of the topics or any of the sakes we talked about in today’s episode, be sure to visit our website, SakeRevolution.com to check out the detailed show notes.
John Puma: 25:48
And I know that you have sake questions that need answers. We want to hear from you. Reach out to us. Email address is [email protected] We’ve also got a nice little form on the website that you can fill out to send us your thoughts. So until next time, please remember to keep drinking sake. Maybe you’ll see a UFO and Kanpai!.