Sake-making mission: the last step

| Dec 14, 2012

Sake-making mission: the last step

The thermometer inside the brewing facility at Shimazaki Shuzo registered a chilly 8 degrees. Like everyone else who had signed up to take part in the final sake-making session of the Karasuyama Taiken (www.karasuyama-taiken.jp), I was dressed for work — in a thin white ...

Where Tokyo's top chefs wine and dine

Nov 30, 2012

Where Tokyo's top chefs wine and dine

Chef Shinobu Namae rarely eats at the same restaurant twice. Like a lot of chefs, he spends most of his time in his own kitchen, overseeing lunch and dinner service at L’Effervescence, his Michelin-starred French restaurant in Tokyo’s Aoyama. When he does venture out, ...

Japanese wine: not as bad as you think

| Nov 9, 2012

Japanese wine: not as bad as you think

On the morning of Nov. 3, the line leading to the entrance of Hibiya Park snaked along the sidewalk and coiled around the corner, several meters from the gate. I was there for the Yamanashi Nouveau wine festival but had assumed that the throngs ...

Hunting for Tokyo's real bagel heads

Oct 12, 2012

Hunting for Tokyo's real bagel heads

By now, everyone has likely heard of — and been baffled by — the recent “bagel head” phenomenon. Last month, a video clip that showed three people in Tokyo undergoing a beauty treatment that involved saline injections into their foreheads went viral on the ...

It's not all about the mid-life crisis

Sep 25, 2012

It's not all about the mid-life crisis

Finding the solution to a difficult problem lies in asking the right questions. On the afternoon of Sept. 1, in a stylish office building in Aoyama, a gathering of Japanese life coaches practiced this Socratic skill in groups of four. It was a role-playing ...

Sake tastings mark the arrival of fall

| Sep 21, 2012

Sake tastings mark the arrival of fall

Sake lovers eagerly await the coming of autumn, when spring’s brash young brews begin to mellow and develop complexity. Unsurprisingly, this season is prime time for tastings, and October means sake events all over Japan. The wave of festivities kicks off on Oct. 1, ...

Sake brewers turn their hand to beer

| Sep 14, 2012

Sake brewers turn their hand to beer

Taro Ishikawa, president of Ishikawa Shuzo in Fussa City, Tokyo, knows a thing or two about brewing beer. This comes as no surprise: In addition to producing Tamajiman sake, his company has been making Japanese jibīru (craft beer) for 14 years. The Ishikawa family’s ...

Developing a taste for sake cocktails

| Aug 10, 2012

Developing a taste for sake cocktails

Despite its funny-sounding name, the Sakenic is a compelling tipple. A fizzy mix of sake, soda and tonic water with an orange twist, it is light and refreshing, with a balance of sweetness and acidity that brings to mind a gin and tonic with ...

Sake production, literally from the ground up

| Jul 13, 2012

Sake production, literally from the ground up

Planting rice is no easy task. It requires patience, sturdy legs and, preferably, a change of clothes. I had, however, neglected to make note of this final detail before embarking on the Karasuyama Taiken (www.karasuyama-taiken.jp) rice-planting excursion, organized by Shimazaki Shuzo sake brewery, in ...