When I first started doing these annual articles in 2019, it was a struggle to fill the requisite column space. There were three or four high-profile translations a year, a couple of World War II academic histories and one or two self-published science fiction novels about samurai, monsters or time-traveling foreigners that were better left unmentioned. That was it.

How things have changed in the past few years; we’ve become positively spoiled for choice.

Things kick off in 2023 in February with “Discovering Yamaguchi Sake” by Jim Rion (Stone Bridge Press). Subtitled “A taster’s guide to breweries, culture, and terrain,” Rion is a licensed kikisake-shi (sake sommelier), so this guide to the 23 breweries of Yamaguchi Prefecture is sure to be detailed and packed with fascinating insights.