SAKETIMES NEWS – Apr 16th, 2019

In the news this week: Konishi Brewer wasn’t just thinking out loud when they suggested a sake in the shape of Ed Sheeran. Then, a guaranteed gift for the person who has everything - a Bluetooth speaker that looks like the cedar ball traditionally used by sake breweries. Finally, sake breweries are increasingly heading over to crowdfunding site Makuake, inspiring a number of groundbreaking projects.

Limited Edition Ed Sheeran Sake On Sale Now

limited edition Ed Sheeran sake Konishi Brewery in Hyogo Prefecture released

In celebration of Ed Sheeran’s Japanese leg of his Divide Tour 2019, Konishi Brewery in Hyogo Prefecture released a limited edition Ed Sheeran sake on April 8 at select shopping centers and other retailers across Japan.

There are two types of Ed Sheeran sake to appeal to a range of drinkers. First is the Ed Sheeran Junmai Ginjo with an orange label inspired by his + (“Plus”) album cover. It features a clear taste and fruity aroma but also has a fair kick to it with a 16% alcohol content.

For those who enjoy a lighter drink, there’s the bubbly Ed Sheeran Sparkling Sake which is carbonated, with a relatively low alcohol content at 10%. This bottle has a blue label, colored after Sheeran’s ÷ (“Divide”) album and, like the Junmai Ginjo, is decorated with cute cat paws, because in addition to his love of sake, the pop star is a notorious fan of cats too.

Konishi has released only 3,000 bottles of each sake at 2,000 yen (US$18) each. They should make a great souvenir for those who attended his shows in Tokyo and Osaka on April 9 and 10, but also a curious collaboration that any sake lover would be tempted to check out.

LINK: SAKETIMES | 2019/04/05 | 兵庫県・小西酒造が来日を記念して「エド・シーランボトル」の日本酒2種類を数量限定で4/8(月)より発売!

Bluetooth Speaker that Looks Like a Sake Brewery’s Cedar Ball Released

the Bluetooth Cedar Ball Speaker

Home decor retailer Kinmiraigakki is now accepting preorders for the Bluetooth Cedar Ball Speaker to go on sale late April or early May. The speakers are modeled after a sakabayashi – a traditional decoration used by sake breweries.

Also known as a “sugidama” (literally, “cedar ball”) these spheres of woven cedar were historically hung from the eaves of the brewery as a sign that a batch of new sake or “shinshu“ had been completed. The green cedar needles would gradually turn brown, which acted as a kind of timer that indicated the maturation of the new sake.

So too does Bluetooth Cedar Ball change color as it plays your favorite songs off of your computer or smart device.

These speakers even come with a miniature eave that you can hang it from and place anywhere in your home, and a microUSB cable for charging that’s disguised as a sacred rope used in shrines and other places around Japan to ward off evil.

The Blue Tooth Cedar Ball Speaker measures 12 centimeters in diameter and sells for 24,000 yen (US$216) on the Kinmiraigakki website. It’s not only a handy audio device but a guaranteed conversation starter for when company stops by.

LINK: SAKETIMES | 2019/04/12 | キンミライガッキが本物の杉玉を使用したBluetoothスピーカー「雷社・4寸酒囃子」を発売!

About 10% of Sake Breweries Use Crowdfunding, According to Makuake

Major Japanese crowdfunding site Makuake

Major Japanese crowdfunding site Makuake recently announced that the number of sake breweries that make use of crowdfunding recently surpassed 100. Considering there are about 1,400 breweries in Japan, that amounts to roughly 7% of all breweries.

SAKETIMES spoke with Makuake founder and board director Kana Bogaki to ask why these largely traditional businesses are flocking to the crowdfunding platform.

Kana BogakiKana Bogaki, Makuake founder and board director

“I feel that sake especially is compatible with crowdfunding in terms of distribution costs and communication with consumers,” explains Bogaki, adding, “crowdfunding can be used to deliver products directly to customers, thus reducing the cost of distribution. In addition, on Makuake you can communicate with consumers through the “Activity Report” and “Support Comments.” The opinions shared here can be used to guide a brewery’s next step in product development.”

Bogaki says that since 2015, sake brewery campaigns have raised 250 million yen (US$2.2M) in total, the most successful of which was the comeback and final brewing of 84-year-old Naohiko Noguchi, known as “The God of Sake Making.” That crowdfunding drive drew in over 20 million yen ($180,000), about 2000% of the target amount.

However, most breweries will say that joining Makuake isn’t about generating money; It’s more a tool to get instant customer feedback and reactions to potential new products.

Bogaki says that the crowdfunding site is actively assisting breweries in this as well. One way is by teaming breweries up with other companies such as the collaboration between Ishii Brewery and Sharp to create the technologically advanced Fuyu Hitoe that can be served at a temperature of -2℃ (28℉).

As sake breweries in Japan continue to find avenues to appeal to younger consumers, crowdfunding certainly is shaping up to be a powerful tool to get there.

■ Makuake’s Top Five “Nihonshu Project” Recipients

No.1 / 20 million yen / 2,250people / 「酒づくりの神様」農口尚彦杜氏(84)の最後の挑戦を応援しよう。
No.2 / 18 million yen / 2,249people / -2℃で味わう新しい日本酒体験。雪がとけるように味わいが変わる「雪どけ酒」冬単衣
No.3 / 13 million yen / 1,513people / 北海道に戦後初、日本酒の酒造会社「上川大雪酒造」が誕生。稀少な誕生酒を限定販売!
No.4 / 10 million yen / 1,081people / 今年初物の搾りたて純米大吟醸が絞ったその日に届く!『日本酒ヌーボー』限定発売!
No.5 / 9 million yen / 882people / 「雪の結晶※を飲む」ハレを彩る氷点下スパークリング日本酒「白那-HAKUNA-」

LINK: PRTIMES | 2019/04/04 | 日本最大級クラウドファンディングサービス「Makuake」利用酒蔵が100蔵を突破

LINK: SAKETIMES | 2019/04/04 |  プロジェクトに関与した酒蔵数は100件の大台へ─ Makuakeが考えるクラウドファンディングの役割と日本酒の未来

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