Politicians, businesspeople and diplomats toasted each other holding glasses filled with the sake sold by Myokoshuzo Co., a sake brewery in Joetsu, Niigata Prefecture, since 2011.
Several types of sake served at the event were presented in bottles seemingly meant for champagne and wine. The bottle labels also looked like those for champagne or wine. After swishing a large glass containing the sake, the pleasing aroma of malted rice rose into the air.
“[Sake] suits Hungarian cuisine very well. I was surprised,” said Istvan Szerdahelyi, the Hungarian ambassador to Japan. Kenzo Yoneda, secretary general of the committee and representative director of the International Economic Exchange Association, said, “If sake is exported in styles and forms familiar to people overseas, it is better accepted by the global community.”
One of the member retailers, Inoue Saketen in Kuki, Saitama Prefecture, sells about 40 types of “moe-shu” (sake with moe character themes). Products in two series, called Sweets Nadeshiko and Tomulier, have been manufactured by breweries nationwide under a consignment production contract.
The bottles are pink, blue and other colors, and the labels depict various moe characters. “Our store is becoming popular for our original moe-kyara products and also other types of moe-shu. Some of our regular customers come from places as far as Hokkaido and Nagasaki Prefecture,” store manager Atsushi Inoue, 41, said with a smile. “Many of our customers have come to like sake after they became interested in our moe-kyara products.”
The series features the store’s three original moe characters. Takuya Kano, president of private research organization Sake Bunka Institute, Inc., said: “Today, even in Japan, drinking sake in wine glasses is more popular than drinking it in traditional guinomi [sake cups].
To further promote sake to overseas consumers, it’s important to make them aware that they can enjoy drinking sake in wine glasses. Wine glasses have the added benefit of allowing us to enjoy the aroma of sake as well.”
Regarding moe-shu, Kano said, “It’s effective in attracting people who aren’t otherwise interested in sake.” Technologies for brewing sake in Japan are said to be highly regarded by winery operators in France. If you haven’t tasted it, try some. You’ll probably like it.
(The Japan News)