Episode 120 Show Notes

Episode 120. Stop the presses! Sake has been more and more in the news recently and we wanted to take a look at some of the newsworthy headlines hitting our shores. This week, we’ll discuss reports of the first ever “carbon neutral” sake coming out of Hyogo from the Kobe Shushinkan Brewery. This involves not only changes to the energy that powers the brewery but also changes to the production process itself to optimize energy expenditures and production time. Is this a sneak peek into sake’s future? We also debate the somewhat controversial “Sake Viva” program put out by Japan’s National Tax Agency. This program solicits marketing proposals that will encourage drinking among the younger generations. Lots to unpack here, too! Listen in to get our two cents the latest sake headlines as we uncover some sake in the news! #SakeRevolution

Skip to: 00:19 Show Opening
Welcome to the show from John and Timothy

Skip to: 2:39 Sake Introduction: Ohyama Tokubetsu Junmai Nama

Ohyama Tokubetsu Junmai Nama

Classification: Nama, Tokubetsu Junmai
Prefecture: Yamagata
Acidity: 1.3
Brewery: Kato Kahachiro Shuzo
SMV: +3.5
Alcohol: 15.5%
Brand: Ohyama
Rice Type: Dewanosato
Seimaibuai: 60%
Yeast: k1801

View on UrbanSake.com:

Skip to: 5:30 Sake Introduction: Izumibashi Megumi Junmai Ginjo

Izumibashi Megumi Junmai Ginjo

Acidity: 1.5
Alcohol: 16.0%
Brewery: Izumibashi Shuzo
Classification: Junmai Ginjo
Importer/Distributor: Mutual Trading (USA)
Prefecture: Kanagawa
Rice Type: Yamadanishiki
Seimaibuai: 58%
SMV: +7.0
Brand: Izumibashi (いづみ橋)
Yeast: 901

View on UrbanSake.com:

Skip to: 9:54 News: Carbon Neutral Sake from Kobe Shushinkan Brewery

Sake In the News. SOURCE: Sora News 24, Jul 27, 2022


First-ever carbon-neutral sake coming in October

Sip some sustainable sake soon.

With a lot of focus being put on products that are sustainable and ethical, the Japanese alcohol known as nihonshu in Japan, or just sake abroad, really has a lot going for it. For centuries, it has been an all-natural, additive-free, and vegan alcoholic drink in its standard form, made with three simple ingredients: rice, water, and yeast.

That alone would make sake a great choice for those with environmental or ethical concerns, but one brewery in Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture still thinks more can be done. Kobe Shushinkan is a prestigious sake brewery that dates back to 1751, has won many awards, and even had its sake served at the Nobel Prize ceremony.

Now they are embarking on a bold new campaign to make their entire business environmentally sustainable, starting with the world’s first carbon-emission-free sake, Fukuju Junmaishu Eco Zero.

This version of Kobe Shushinkan’s famous Fukuju brand of sake accomplishes this in four different ways. First, they switched their energy sources to Kobe’s non-fossil-burning sources for electricity and carbon-neutral liquified natural gas to run the brewing. They have also taken numerous steps around the brewery to reduce overall electricity consumption such as LED lighting.

In the brewing process itself, instead of milling the rice grains down to 70 percent as they normally do Kobe Shushinkan will only mill them down to 80 percent. By milling less of the rice grains, less power is used and as a result the sake has a more complex and earthy taste than the highly fruity flavors of sake made from heavily milled rice like daiginjo.

Normally in sake brewing something called “shubo” is used. Literally translating to “sake mother” this mass of mushy steamed rice is used to cultivate the yeast needed to ferment the sake. However, since the steaming process consumes energy, this step has been eliminated in the production of Eco Zero. Instead, dried yeast is used to reduce the environmental burden and speed up the entire brewing process.

Finally, the bottles themselves do not have any labels which require additional materials and energy to produce. Instead, a lead-free ink is applied directly to the bottle through electrostatic coating. These bottles will grace liquor shelves starting 20 October for an expected retail price of about 1,500 yen (US$11) per 720-milliliter (24-ounce) bottle.

Eco Zero is only the first step in Kobe Shushinkan’s Sustainable Journey initiative in which it aims to have complete emission-free brewing by 2030 and extend this to all aspects of their supply chain by 2050, including farming and distribution to the 15 countries where Fukuju sake is sold. They also plan to share these techniques with other breweries so that the entire industry can move in a greener direction together.

In addition to adhering to basic social responsibility, Kobe Shushinkan also has a vested interest in curbing climate change and protecting the environment. Sake brewing is deeply connected to the water and land of the local environment in which its made. So for them and for all of us, saving the environment also means saving great tasting sake.

-SOURCE: Sora News 24,

Skip to: 19:29 News: National Tax Agency solicits proposals to increase alcohol Consumption Among younger consumers

Sake In the News. SOURCE: By Malu Cursino, BBC News, Aug 18,2022


Japan urges its young people to drink more to boost economy
Japan’s young adults are a sober bunch – something authorities are hoping to change with a new campaign.

The younger generation drinks less alcohol than their parents – a move that has hit taxes from beverages like sake (rice wine).

So the national tax agency has stepped in with a national competition to come up with ideas to reverse the trend.

The “Sake Viva!” campaign hopes to come up with a plan to make drinking more attractive – and boost the industry.

The contest asks 20 to 39-year-olds to share their business ideas to kick-start demand among their peers – whether it’s for Japanese sake, shochu, whisky, beer or wine.

The group running the competition for the tax authority says new habits – partly formed during the Covid pandemic – and an ageing population have led to a decline in alcohol sales.

It wants contestants to come up with promotions, branding, and even cutting-edge plans involving artificial intelligence.

Japanese media say the reaction has been mixed, with some criticism about the bid to promote an unhealthy habit. But others have posted quirky ideas online – such as famous actresses “performing” as virtual-reality hostesses in digital clubs.

Contestants have until the end of September to put forward their ideas. The best plans will then be developed with help from experts before the final proposals are presented in November.

The campaign’s website says Japan’s alcohol market is shrinking and the country’s older demographic – alongside declining birth rates – is a significant factor behind it.

Recent figures from the tax agency show that people were drinking less in 2020 than in 1995, with numbers plummeting from an annual average of 100 litres (22 gallons) to 75 litres (16 gallons) per adult.

Tax revenue from taxes on alcohol has also shrunk over the years. According to The Japan Times newspaper, it made up 5% of total revenue in 1980, but in 2020 amounts to just 1.7%.

The World Bank estimates that nearly a third (29%) of Japan’s population is aged 65 and older – the highest proportion in the world.

Concerns about the future of sake is not the only problem that poses for Japan’s economy – there are worries about the supply of younger staff for certain types of jobs, and care for the elderly in the future.

SOURCE: By Malu Cursino BBC NEWS

Skip to:35:06 Show Closing

This is it! Join us next time for another episode of Sake Revolution!

Announcing Patreon

Now there is a new way to support Sake Revolution. Join us on Patreon! Patreon is an online platform that allows you to support your favorite creators by subscribing to a monthly membership. At Sake Revolution, we’re offering two tiers, each with its own perk. If you enjoy our sake podcast, if you are able, please consider supporting this labor of sake love! See below to learn about our Patreon support levels.

  • Sake Enthusiast

    Have you ever wanted to sip along with us as we taste our sakes on the podcast? Now you can! As a Sake Enthusiast patron, you’ll get the inside track and know in advance which sakes we’ll be featuring on the show. This allows you to get them on hand and sip along with us while you listen.

  • Sake Otaku

    As a Sake Otaku supporter of the pod, you’ll get access to all the Sake Enthusiast intel along with access to a monthly live zoom Sake Happy Hour taking place the first Weds of every month at 9pm ET (6pm PT). Visit with us live on zoom! Come with all your questions and suggestions and enjoy a relaxed and fun Happy Hour with with us as we all sip sake together!

Episode 120 Transcript

John Puma: 0:22
Hello everybody. And welcome to Sake Revolution. This is America’s first and favorite. I’m gonna decree that sake podcast. I am one of your hosts. My name is John Puma from the Sake Notes. Also, I’m the guy that, uh, runs the internet sake discord. Let’s see fun, fun place to come down and learn about sake with some fun people.

Timothy Sullivan: 0:46
And I’m your host Timothy Sullivan. I’m a Sake Samurai, sake educator, as well as the founder of the urban sake website and every week, John and I will be here tasting and also chatting about all things sake and doing our best to make it fun and easy to understand.

John Puma: 1:03
Excellent. Tim. I love tasting and talking about all things sake with you. It’s a wonderful thing that I get to do every week. And. We’re going a little literal to this week, we’re gonna be tasting and talking about things sake

Timothy Sullivan: 1:17

John Puma: 1:18
so you wanna, uh, give the, uh, listeners a little bit of a rundown of what I mean by that.

Timothy Sullivan: 1:24
Well, we have been noticing that, sake topics have been popping up in the actual news lately. So we thought it was high time. We did, sake in the news. So here we are. And to facilitate this, we’re gonna start off by introducing our sakes first sip on them while we discuss the largest news stories to hit our shores about Japanese sake.

John Puma: 1:50
Ah, I love it. This is, uh, this is nice. This is interesting. This is pretty cool. Do we have anybody in the field? Do we have a helicopter or anything like that or, or is the budget not quite there yet?

Timothy Sullivan: 2:00
I wish I could do like one of those TikTok podcaster voices, but I can’t this just in that’s that’s all you’re gonna

John Puma: 2:10
on I’m I’m hearing, I’m hearing that there has been, uh, there has been a delivery of Jikon

Timothy Sullivan: 2:19
We’re going to John Puma in the field, the rice field.

John Puma: 2:24
live I like it. I like it.

Timothy Sullivan: 2:28
All right, John. So we’re gonna talk about our sakes first. Yes. So tell me what sake did you bring today to talk about the news?

John Puma: 2:39
I. Have a sake that is very, very near and dear to my heart.

Timothy Sullivan: 2:44

John Puma: 2:45
Uh, yeah. Yeah. So, um, the sake that I am gonna be drinking today is actually the very first seasonal Nama I ever tasted, um, it is the Ohyama natsu, uh, tokubetsu Junmai nama sake. And this was when I was first kind of getting into sake. I would go over to, Sakaya every now and again and see what was new and what they had. And I was already a big fan of Ohyama. Ohyama is a, brand of sake out of Yamagata, and, they always had it, like when I was first getting into sake, it was everywhere. Like you can really find Ohyama in New York pretty easily, and I really, really enjoyed it. And it’s it. They’re not your typical Yamagata fair. It’s not the big fruit bomb, but I really enjoyed their Tokubetsu Junmai. And I remember being at Sakaya one day and they got a bottle of Ohyama that had a completely different color scheme than the usual. And I was like, what is this all about? And they were like, oh, this is the Nama. And I was like, what does that even mean? And they told me, oh, it’s this unpasteurized, blah, blah, blah. And I bought a bottle and took it home and it, and it blew my mind. I’d never had unpasteurized sake before. And it was so exciting. Every year, I’d go back and I’d buy like two or three bottles. And then abruptly after 2011, it stopped coming. And it hasn’t been available here for me, at least on the east coast. I’ve been able to get it since 2011. I actually have the photo of the last bottle of Ohyama Nama I ever had. being able to have this again is exciting for me. And so I wanted to share my enthusiasm with, uh, the people at home and talk about it on today’s show.

Timothy Sullivan: 4:29
great. So why don’t you give us the stats for your sake?

John Puma: 4:32
Great. So, this is using, Dewanosato rice for, both the koji and the kakemai. The polishing ratio is 60%, the brewery name is actually, uh, even though the brand is Ohyama most known for that, the brewery is actually, Kato Kahachiro shuzo. The, um, sake meter value that measure of, uh, dry to sweet is plus 1.5. So barely a touch on the dry side. The alcohol percentage is 15 and a half. The acid is 1.6 and as pointed out earlier, Is a Nama Tokubetsu Junmai Nama.

Timothy Sullivan: 5:17
And he said it was a “Natsu”,

John Puma: 5:20
Right? Uh, so this is their summer Nama

Timothy Sullivan: 5:22
Natsu means summer,

John Puma: 5:23
Don’t actually put it on the English label. It’s still just Nama for the, for this, but, but good stuff.

Timothy Sullivan: 5:30
All right. So the sake that I brought today is the Izumibashi Megumi blue label. Junmai ginjo

John Puma: 5:38

Timothy Sullivan: 5:39
Izumibashi Shuzo is out of Kanagawa Prefecture, and. Kind of symbol for their brand is the dragonfly. And in Japan, it’s well known that the dragonfly only survives and does well in the, around the purest water sources. So that’s one of the reasons that that’s a symbol for their brand. Uh, they’re using yamadanishiki rice for this megumi blue label polished down to 58%. Our SMV sake meter value is a +7. Acidity is 1.5. Alcohol is 16% and yeah. So I’m really excited to taste this sake as well.

John Puma: 6:19
Hmm. Excellent plus seven that’s, uh, that’s gonna be a little more on the dryer side of things

Timothy Sullivan: 6:25
Yeah. It’s a little up there, but you know, you never know, we gotta taste it and see how it blends with all those other factors that go in. So I’m gonna go ahead and get mine open. You should as well. And let’s pour them in the glass and do.

John Puma: 6:37
Sure thing.

Timothy Sullivan: 6:38
sake, ASMR.

John Puma: 6:48
All right.

Timothy Sullivan: 6:49

John Puma: 6:51

Timothy Sullivan: 6:51
do you wanna give yours a taste first?

John Puma: 6:53
sure thing. Well, first I’m gonna take a look at it and it is almost completely transparent. Just a tiny, tiny, tiny, tiny hint of color. And on those, we’ve got a little bit of tropical fruit, but not overwhelming it’s there, but it’s not, it’s not beating over the head with it again. Uh, this, this brewery doesn’t really do the traditional Yamagata fruit bomb and on the taste. Hmm. Mm-hmm, a lot more of that. Tropical fruit, a little bit more of a citrus on there. It’s got a nice little zip going on. It’s really, um, bright and fresh. And then it’s got this really nice crisp, dry finish. Tim. I think you’ll very much appreciate with your love of Niigata sake. and I, and I think that we’ve talked about before how that crisp, dry finish makes you just ready to have another sip and that makes this sake dangerous

Timothy Sullivan: 7:54
Yes, And right up your alley. I

John Puma: 7:57
yes, very much so. Very much. So a lot of fruit, a nice crisp finish, and you’re ready for round two

Timothy Sullivan: 8:04
And you’re on the couch.

John Puma: 8:06
and you’re on the couch, yes.

Timothy Sullivan: 8:09
all right. Well, I’ll give mine smell as well. Hmm. So it has a richer kind of aroma to it. A little more concentrated, not bright fresh and tropical, but a little bit, just a hint of rice in there. A little bit richer and depth of aroma is how I would describe it. And now I’m going to give it a taste. Hmm. All right. So it’s very smooth. It’s not super dry. It has just for me, there’s a hint of sweetness upfront and the dryness really comes on the finish. It’s got a lot of depth and richness to it almost tastes like little bit like an aged sake in, in the best possible way. Like there’s a, a depth of flavor layers to the flavor and a bit of concentrated deliciousness to the mid palate. And, uh, it finishes kind of dry, but there’s a little bit of weight and heft that I really like here. So it’s not summer-y fresh and playful. It’s a little bit more concentrated and rich, but I really, really like it.

John Puma: 9:22
Fantastic. Fantastic. Well, now that we are, um, a little, a little primed

Timothy Sullivan: 9:29

John Puma: 9:29
about the news

Timothy Sullivan: 9:30
Okay. So these are some news stories that involve sake that have come to our shores. That basically means that there was an English language news article about them.

John Puma: 9:44
so we’re not digging into the Japanese sources just yet.

Timothy Sullivan: 9:47
We’re not digging into the Japanese sources. And John, what’s the, uh, what’s the headline. We’re looking at

John Puma: 9:54
Well, Tim. Uh, we have this article from Sora news 24 that, a Japanese sake brewery is actually making a, their first carbon neutral sake, this article was published on July 27th. This year and, Kobe Shushinkan who, who make, Fukuju, a very popular sake here. they are making a carbon emission free, a carbon neutral sake, the, Fukuju, Junmai eco zero. So they’re go, they’re putting it right in the branding. I like that. Um, they switched their energy sources to Kobe’s uh, non fossil burning sources for electricity. And, uh, they’re using carbon neutral liqufied gas to run the brewing. Um, they’ve also taken a lot of steps around the brewery to reduce energy consumption. So things like L E D lighting guys, if you’re not using L E D lighting at home, start using L E D lighting at home. If

Timothy Sullivan: 10:47
are you even doing?

John Puma: 10:48
What are you even doing? If you hate changing light bulbs, get LEDs, you will never have to change a light bulb as long as you are alive. So nothing they’re doing is they’re actually, uh, they’re reducing the mill rate a little bit. They’re only milling it down to 80% instead the usual 70. and here’s an interesting bit, and I wonder. I wonder what kind of impact it will have on the product? No shubo, Tim.

Timothy Sullivan: 11:12
Oh, no fermentation starter.

John Puma: 11:15
no fermentation starter. Instead they’re gonna use dry yeast, uh, to reduce the environmental burden and speed up the entire brewing process. That’s the quote from the article, the bottles themselves do not have any labels instead they’re gonna use, um, lead free ink applied directly to the bottle. Honestly, I kind of love it when my sake bottles don’t have labels, instead of stuff kind of painted right on it. I think that’s really cool. So yea. and this is their first step. This brewery, during lockdown, they did a little bit of a, they did a little bit of a tour and I got to sit in on that. And they talked a little bit about how in the future, they wanted to do some carbon neutral brewing. And this is the, the result of that. And I think that’s really interesting that they’re, they’re putting, you know, they, they went and said this and they’re, they’re kind of putting their money where their mouth is and they’re, and they’re going forward and, and making changes.

Timothy Sullivan: 12:08
Yeah. I think this type of action is. not inexpensive for a brewery to do. And somebody has to be the leader and step forward to make this more of the norm versus a newsworthy exception. So I really applaud them for taking these steps and putting emphasis on this and for every industry. I mean, I think in Japan sake brewing is a small, but culturally important industry.

John Puma: 12:40

Timothy Sullivan: 12:41
And if more breweries, follow this lead, it’s going to inspire larger industries to do this as well. Because sake brewing is a standard bearer for Japanese culture. They’re greatly respected culturally in Japan. And as we’ve talked about many times, they have super long histories going back. centuries. In many cases. So I think it’s great when breweries like this step up and do something that is really forward thinking.

John Puma: 13:14
Yeah. And I am very curious to see how this is going to, uh, turn out for them. Like what, what’s this carbon zero sake going to taste like,

Timothy Sullivan: 13:23
Ooh, that’s a good question. We can’t, we can’t ignore that question.

John Puma: 13:27
yeah. Um,

Timothy Sullivan: 13:28
it’s gonna be milled to 80%. You said. And I think with modern, with modern milling techniques, 80% is not what it used to be.

John Puma: 13:37
exactly that is exactly the point. I mean, I wanna say that maybe even five or 10 years ago, if your sake was milled to, uh, less than 70% it would be really hard to get kind of ginjo flavors or anything like that out of it, it becomes very difficult. But these days with modern milling techniques and honestly, modern rice growing techniques, they’re able to get into a place where you can get away with doing less milling and still have a product that’s doing what exactly what you want it to do. Uh, and this, this brewery Tim you pointed out. That sake breweries have been around for a really long time. And we like talking about that, uh, this sake brewery has actually been around since 1751 and they’re paving the way for

Timothy Sullivan: 14:23

John Puma: 14:24
Yeah. So that’s awesome.

Timothy Sullivan: 14:26
Yeah. The article also said that they’re they want to have emission free or carbon neutral brewing for their entire lineup by 2030, and extend this to their supply chain by 2050.

John Puma: 14:40
Supply chain, part’s gonna be tricky, cuz some of that, you know, will be a little bit outta their control, but you know that I think we all have to do that. We have to, you know, that’s, that’s the future. We’ve gotta get to a place where, uh, where that is or else, you know, our or else our future will become very limited.

Timothy Sullivan: 14:56
Yeah. But I, you know, it, it seems hard to argue with this being an awesome, amazing thing. That they’re doing

John Puma: 15:04
It’s you know, this is, this is the kind of news thing that you have to just cheer for. You know, you really want this to be successful.

Timothy Sullivan: 15:10
Yeah. And it’s interesting, like all the things you mentioned in the article are individually may not be big things, but like switching from a paper label with glue to kind of electrostatic printing or whatever they’re doing on the bottle, like in and of itself that might not save the planet, but it’s all these little steps that add up and create a real impact.

John Puma: 15:33
Yes, exactly. They’re not gonna reinvent the wheel. The very first tryout it’s going to be, you know, little bits and pieces. The, you know, this is the perfect is the enemy of the good, and they’re doing lots of little good things. It’s gonna get us where we need to go.

Timothy Sullivan: 15:45
Yes. I think a, comparison might be maybe to the us electric, the EV industry in the U.S., like making electric cars. 15 years ago, people were like, oh my God, that’s a pipe dream. What are you talking about? And it was like the fringed weirdo, crunchy granola freaks were driving electric cars, but now it’s becoming so mainstream and in, by 2030 and 2050, I think electric cars are gonna be all around. So this is really leaning into that trend. And again, that forward thinking mentality. So I think it’s wonderful. Do you think. is a reliable comparison.

John Puma: 16:25
I think so. And I think that it’s a, it goes to show how quickly things can change also, you know, I think. As you pointed out maybe 10 years ago. Uh, it was extremely unusual to see, uh, a, a to see an electric vehicle. you know, I guess back then maybe hybrids were more of a thing, but we’ve gotten so far so quickly. And I think that, yeah, by, you know, 10, 20 years out, it’s gonna be, I think we’re gonna get to a point before we know it where it’s a little weird to see gas vehicles.

Timothy Sullivan: 16:57
I hope

John Puma: 16:57
it’s, oh, it’s that? You know, one of those.

Timothy Sullivan: 17:02

John Puma: 17:02
So, you know, we’ll see how it goes.

Timothy Sullivan: 17:04
What do you think about brewers changing their process in ways that save energy? Save the amount of time it takes. Do you think that takes away from the flavor or are we gonna have to wait and see?

John Puma: 17:20
I think we’re gonna have to wait and see, uh, I think that. Tojis and, and, uh, Kuramotos have a lot of tricks up their sleeves

Timothy Sullivan: 17:29
Yes, they

John Puma: 17:30
do. And, you know, we’ll see what they, what they do. I think that, the breweries, as you pointed out earlier, have a long history and they are very important to the culture. And I think that what they produce is really. Just as important for them and I think that is very top of mind for them to try to maintain the personality and the flavor profile that they have been making for years.

Timothy Sullivan: 18:00
It would be interesting if we could go back in time, 130 years, and the sake brewers at Kobe Shushinkan if they’re like, well, we’ve got wooden tanks now, and there’s these new stainless steel tanks coming out. I don’t know if we should switch and they’re having this conversation about the new technology coming in. And it’s so interesting. Like, we don’t even think twice about that change now, but it could be. 70 years from now a hundred years from now. Paper labels are this thing like, oh my God, can you believe they used to do that? And all the, how wasteful that was. And you know, it, it’s interesting. Like we inhabit our place in history and we’re, we’re on a continuum here and, uh, I really welcome any new ideas. And I don’t know, I just get really excited about things like this. So I think this is a really fun story to follow, and I’ve had the opportunity to visit this brewery twice. And I’m so glad that they’re. Changing their source of energy and coming up with all these ideas to be a more earth friendly business. And again, that’s a position of leadership and I’m really proud of that. I think that’s fantastic.

John Puma: 19:10
Wonderful. Uh, I had, I had plans to visit this brewery, for my trip to Japan in 2021. Uh, but that, uh, yeah, that didn’t happen. So, Tim, we’ve got one more news

Timothy Sullivan: 19:22
yes. A a bit more breaking news. Yeah.

John Puma: 19:26
and buckle up folks. This is gonna be an interesting one.

Timothy Sullivan: 19:28
Okay. So here’s the headline. Japan urges its young people to drink more to boost economy.

John Puma: 19:37

Timothy Sullivan: 19:38
now many news outlets covered this story

John Puma: 19:41
Oh yeah. Everybody’s got this article.

Timothy Sullivan: 19:44
Yep. This is the New York times, I have a link to it as well from the BBC. This was published on August 18th, 2022. And here’s the scoop. So obviously, as everyone knows, the population in Japan is shrinking about one third, 29% of Japan’s population is 65 years of age or older. And this is the highest older population in the world the younger generation is drinking less sake and this has had an impact on the taxes that are collected from alcoholic beverages. Now. The alcohol industry in Japan is regulated by the national tax agency. And they’ve come up with a bit of, shall I say a controversial idea? They’re holding a national competition to come up with business plan ideas to reverse this trend. It’s called Sake Viva. And it’s a campaign to ask people to come up with business plans, to attract more attention to the sake and alcohol industries. So the contest asks 20 to 39 year olds specifically to share their business ideas, to kickstart demand among their peers. This could be for sake, shochu whiskey, wine, or beer. And the goal of this effort is to increase tax revenue on alcohol, which has shrunk over the years, according to the Japan times, newspaper in 1980 5% of the tax agency revenue came from alcohol and in 2020, it’s down to 1.7%. Yeah. So this has received mixed reception to say the least.

John Puma: 21:40

Timothy Sullivan: 21:41
So, what do you think?

John Puma: 21:43
I’m of two minds on this. Um, number one, I love sake. So you obviously want to see sake flourish, and you want to encourage things are going to theoretically help sake to flourish. On the other hand. Government campaigns to encourage young people to drink is a weird thing. At least if for me, I think it’s a weird idea. Uh, and by weird, I mean, it’s like a little uncomfortable to me, you know, it’s a little strange A huge amount of Japan’s like a large amount of Japan’s economy. And honestly, like a lot of the social structure is built around drinking in a lot of cases. Um, you know, there are literally tens of thousands of izakayas all over the place in Japan. They, you can trip and fall into one on any street. And if you have another generation coming in, that’s not partaking. Has a possibly catastrophic effect on that economy, on that business model. So that it’s very much, you know, based on the idea that people are gonna come in there and drink every night. A lot of the office culture is also based on drinking, going after, after hours and having drinks with coworkers and stuff like that. And people not drinking it, it has ramifications, uh, across the board for that, for their entire culture.

Timothy Sullivan: 23:13
Yeah, I think it’s important for people to understand that there there’s a unique position for alcohol consumption in business situations. Like you were just outlining. I think in Japan, the idea of drinking with coworkers, it’s almost in some, some scenarios, it’s like an expectation that you’re going to go out. Socially and seal a business deal over some type of drinking. So in Japanese society, there’s this backdrop to this. So I think for people outside of Japan who hear this, that the tax agency is encouraging business plans to get more young people to drink. It may sound strange to people outside of Japan, but please understand that there’s cultural backdrop to this that you know, you and I have been to Japan a lot, and we’ve been in the industry for a while. And, you know, there’s, there’s an underlying cultural expectation that business people are gonna drink together. You see that very, very commonly on the other hand,

John Puma: 24:17
I mean, there are entire neighborhoods built around the idea that people are going to salary men and salary women are gonna go out after work and drink.

Timothy Sullivan: 24:26

John Puma: 24:26
and that’s like, you know, entire neighborhoods, it’s hard to guys work with me for a moment here. There are entire neighborhoods that are built on the idea that people are going to go drinking after work. That’s a district where they all go and it’s, it’s a weird thing to consider, but imagine, you know, like there are, there’s probably neighborhoods in your city where there’s bars, uh, that are kind of in a group. And if suddenly people weren’t going drinking those bars close down and it does bad things for the general local economy.

Timothy Sullivan: 24:57
Well, let’s talk about the, the other side of the coin, the uncomfortable side of the coin, which

John Puma: 25:02
there’s a very uncomfortable side of this coin, Tim.

Timothy Sullivan: 25:04
we all know. Alcohol consumption is not healthy for us. It’s a choice we make to enjoy and studies come out all the time of the impact, the negative impact of over consumption of alcohol. Uh, there’s societal costs, there’s health costs, and it is something that needs to be done in moderation. I think we can all agree that it’s important to keep, uh, an eye on moderation for this type of enjoyment and consumption. The cost can be devastating to families. It can have economic costs. If people become addicted to alcohol and this proposal by the tax agency to get young people to come up with these business plans is not just focused on Japanese sake. Shochu whiskey, beer or wine. So it is any alcohol is involved in this. And I think for you and me, we’re specifically interested in sake compared to shochu and whiskey sake is a lower alcohol alternative and it’s not distilled, and it is a traditional, culturally relevant craft in Japan. So for me, I often focus on that aspect of it. The cultural affairs council in Japan has decided to propose Japanese sake brewing as a candidate for the UNESCO intangible cultural heritage listing. So they want to list sake brewing as a cultural practice of value to be honored by UNESCO. And that speaks differently to this craft of making sake. So there’s a cultural significance in my mind to sake. Um, but they’re promoting here, whiskey, wine, beer, all kinds of alcohol, and they just want to make more tax revenue and get more young people drinking. I don’t think that necessarily honors the craft of sake brewing.

John Puma: 27:07
Not necessarily,

Timothy Sullivan: 27:08
Not necessarily maybe. Well, I will say. I’m curious about what these younger people are going to propose to make alcohol consumption more attractive to younger people. But my point of view would be like taking a cultural approach to it. And that really, for me, leans more to sake and, and shochu. Honoring those traditions. What do you think?

John Puma: 27:34
Yeah, I think that, that in my mind should be the focus and that’s in no small part due to, the time I spend doing this show and you know, my, my personal hobbies,

Timothy Sullivan: 27:45

John Puma: 27:47
you know, obviously I want to see sake be healthy and, uh, you know, it’d be great if this carried it along,

Timothy Sullivan: 27:55
well, we hit some major headlines. That have come to Japan in the last month or so.

John Puma: 28:03
Yeah. Uh, unfortunately you may have noticed that none of them were, Hey guys, we’re opening up the borders soon, but we’re keeping our eyes open for that one, but it’ll, it’ll, you know, one day, one day, ladies and gentlemen, one day they’ll

Timothy Sullivan: 28:17
Yes. And how have you enjoyed your Ohyama Summer Tokubetsu Junmai unpasteurized sake. How’s it been sipping

John Puma: 28:24
It’s fantastic. And, uh, you know, I have to say kind of enjoy this drinking the sake at the beginning of the episode thing, Tim, maybe we should give another shot more these days.

Timothy Sullivan: 28:32
Absolutely. I’ve been enjoying my Izumi Bashi Junmai ginjo the blue label. Very delicious. Yeah. So this has been fun. And, um, this is going to be a series. So in a few weeks we might have another news segment coming up with new headlines from Japan, and we are gonna bring you the latest and greatest sake news. So stay tuned for that.

John Puma: 28:56

Timothy Sullivan: 28:58
All right, John. Great to taste with you. This was a lot of fun, our first sake in the news episode, I want to thank all of our listeners for joining us today. We hope you enjoyed the news as well. And as always, I’d like to say hello and thank you to our patrons as well. Now, if you would like to support the sake revolution podcast, you can join us on Patreon. Please visit patreon.com/SakeRevolution. to learn more about supporting our podcast.

John Puma: 29:28
And if you have questions comments. If you came across any news, uh, about Japanese sake that you think we should talk about in our next episode, please send it over to us over at [email protected]. You can also get at us on most forms of social media. Uh, not quite, not quite doing the TikTok thing yet, but we’re getting there. We’re getting there one day.

Timothy Sullivan: 29:53
We keep threatening.

John Puma: 29:54
We keep threatening. Yes. I think, I don’t know. I think we’re legally too old to be doing TikTok, but we’ll see. We’ll see. But anyway, thank you everybody for listening. Thank you Tim. For joining me again today, everybody please raise your glass. Remember to keep drinking sake and Kanpai

Timothy Sullivan: 30:10