Japan Investing in Sake Distribution Throughout China, Hong Kong, and Macau
Cool Japan, an initiative in which public and private money is invested into promoting Japanese culture abroad, has set its sights on the very lucrative Chinese sake market. This is an area that has seen huge growth, expanding 500% over the short period of 2014 to 2018, from 690 million to 3.59 billion yen (US$6.4M to $33M).
But, there’s still a lot of headway to be made in the vast and populous nation, and many smaller sake breweries in Japan lack the resources to build a sales network there. So, Cool Japan has invested about 2.2 billion yen ($20M) in Hong-Kong-based wine distributor EMW, with the hopes that they can introduce sake to a wider range of Chinese drinkers.
EMW currently oversees the distribution of 80 wineries from 15 countries to over 3,500 locations in over 150 cities around China, Hong Kong, and Macau. The group also boasts a long track record of awareness campaigns in the region.
If successful, EMW could be first in “breaking” sake among the regions’ wine conissuers and also get in on the ground floor of the Chinese sake market. Japan will also benefit with an established network of sake dealers to facilitate business, and with more people in China, Hong Kong, and Macau getting access to the great taste of sake, it would be a win for everyone involved.
360-Year-Old Kiku-Masamune Brewery Celebrates American Sales with Event
On June 17, Kobe-based Kiku-Masamune Sake Brewery held a celebration, inviting about 100 guests to the three-Michelin-starred French restaurant Per Se in New York City. The purpose was to commemorate the introduction of the brewer’s newest brand, Hyakumoku, to the US market.
Kiku-Masamune was established in 1659 in Kobe City and even enjoys a long history of overseas sales, having exported to the UK as early as 1877. Hyakumoku is also a special label in itself – it was the first new brand Kiku^Masamune had developed in 130 years when it was released in 2016.
During the event, the president of Kiku-Masamune, Jiroemon Kano, pointed out the importance of highlighting the distinct qualities and characteristics of Kobe-brewed sake among an ever-growing selection of American-made brews. He also said that the key to sake’s success in countries such as the US is in its compatibility not just with Japanese food, but other international cuisines like Italian and French.
As such, Per Se was a perfect location for Hyakumoku’s launch to show it’s harmony with some of the best food New York has to offer and as a sign of further success to come.
High-tech Masu Adds Holograms and Sound to Your Sake
Tech company Drill Co. is currently working on a new type of masu, the traditional square serving cups often seen in big screen depictions of sake-drinking scenes. Drill Co. has added holographic imagery and soothing sounds to the age-old vessel so that drinkers can enjoy sake that stimulates all five senses.
Called Holoyoimasu, its purpose is to not only enhance sake drinking, but to educate people about the interesting stories behind each brand and brewery. Symbols such as falling cherry blossom petals that appear to settle at the bottom of the glass or fireworks bursting inside the liquid are meant to express the history, process, and spirit of each brand.
A speaker in the bottom of the cup will also play either a narration providing information about the sake or ambient sounds. Drill is hoping that these added features will both attract new sake drinkers and deepen their understanding and appreciation for the beverage.
Development is still ongoing, but it’s hoped that the first commercially available version of Holoyoimasu will come with a dedicated app to customize the drinking experience depending on the sake label.
The project appears to be nearing completion, with early adopters getting to test drive prototype versions at a special Tokyo event held in late June.
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