SAKETIMES NEWS – Jul 2, 2019

In the news this week: Cool Japan is looking to show China, Hong Kong, and Macau how cool sake can be. Then, Kiku-Masamune is bringing their long-awaited Hyakumoku sake brand to the United States and threw a bash to celebrate. Finally, those traditional square sake cups called masu are about to get a huge upgrade with holograms and streaming audio.


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).

sake export amount and volumeExports to China have expanded five-fold from 2014 to 2019

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.

LINK:YAHOO!JAPANニュース | 2019/06/19 | 【香港】日本酒普及で香港社に出資、クールジャパン

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.

LINK: 産経フォト | 2019/6/18 | 日本酒「百黙」米販売へ 菊正宗、NYでイベント

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.

LINK: PRTIMES | 2019/06/17 | 世界初!「映像」と「音」で日本酒を“ストーリー”まで味わう『HOLO酔い升』を開発 テクノロジーで日本酒市場の活性化に一役 升の底にホログラム映像とスピーカーを内蔵

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