Tokyo Jizake Strolling (The Future Direction of Japanese Sake)
2020-07-09

Tokyo Jizake Strolling (The Future Direction of Japanese Sake)

While the coronavirus threat is starting to subside in Tokyo, most residents are still in quarantine with some hesitant to step into restaurants where people congregate. As reported in the previous issue, people are determined to find creative ways to get through the tough economic times posing the greatest challenge for sake breweries and retail shops selling sake. The economy will not go back to normal right away. As Tokyoites gradually come out of quarantine, those who cannot telecommute are heading back to work in the cities, filling commuter trains that was empty until just recently, leaving no seats available.
This means demand will decrease among consumers who consume sake at home. However, restaurants cannot get back to normal business anytime soon, continuing to incur losses. Sake shops will continue to suffer losses in sales to customers and restaurants. This situation is expected to continue for several more months, with stay-at-home likely to continue outside of essential purposes to avoid a secondary infection. However, since restaurants, sake shops, and sake breweries are all inter-connected, sake breweries are also struggling. This timing gives evidence to how much sake consumption declined among Japanese nationals.
Traditionally, sake was found in every home and would expect sake consumption at home would increase under these conditions, therefore, sake shops and breweries should not be incurring losses hypothetically. One conclusion that may be drawn is that the PR teams and ambassadors of Japanese sake brands were not effective in their promotional efforts. Perhaps, their efforts to popularize Japanese sake were directed in the wrong direction. Japanese sake is a beverage casually consumed and closely tied into everyday life in Japan. Therefore, the increased wine consumption compared to the reduced sake consumption can be attributed to Japanese society as a whole.
This is a timing to take a long, hard look for PR teams of Japanese sake. However, all we can do for now is to drink sake. The difficult challenges can be addressed once the coronavirus threat passes completely. Also, I hear many people are cooking more and improving their cooking skills while staying home. Using regional sake for cooking is a great idea. For example, if using miso one day, or cooking wild game or fresh fish is a great reason to purchase regional sake to cook with or compliment the prepared cuisine. For example, in a community with regional cuisines prepared from mountain vegetables, why not purchase regional sake from a local brewery to prepare wild game and enjoy with the sake? Since the same sake was used in preparing the cuisine, there is no way the sake wouldn’t compliment the cuisine.
The message that is important to pass on is not knowledge pertaining to sake composition, etc., not simply to consume sake, but knowledge to closely and efficiently tie sake into daily life to increase the consumption volume of sake overall. Also, I pray business is back to normal by the time this article is published.



東京地酒散歩(日本酒の向かう場所)

 コロナウイルスの脅威が落ち着きつつある東京だが、まだまだ自粛ムードであり、人が集まる飲食店に行くのを躊躇う人も多い感じである。前回も書いたのだが、皆それぞれ工夫を凝らし、今を乗り切ることに必死であるが酒蔵・酒販店としては、一番苦しい時期だろう。直ぐに世の中が通常に戻るわけでは無い。東京も多少ステイホームの意識が緩み始め、テレワークだけでは済ませられない人達が仕事に出ている。ガラガラだった都心の通勤電車が座れなくなっているそうだ。そうなると家呑み需要が減るのだが、飲食店はまだまだ通常運転とはいかず苦しい状態が続いている。酒販店としては、一般のお客様販売も飲食店売りも減るだけである。まだまだこの状況が数か月続く予想なのだが、2次感染の事も考えて不要不急の外出は避けねばならないだろう。しかし、飲食店・酒販店・酒蔵は連結しているので、酒造メーカーも苦しいようだ。このタイミングで日本人がどれほど日本酒を飲まなくなったかが解かる。昔は各家庭に日本酒が有り、普通に考えたら家呑み需要が増え、そこまで大きく酒販店や酒蔵が厳しい状況になることは無いはずである。今回、日本酒PR活動家やアンバサダーと呼ばれる人達の活動の成果が出ていなかったと言えるだろう。日本酒普及の向かうべき方向が間違っていたのかもしれない。手軽で生活に密着した日本酒なのにワインを手本に難しくしてしまった世の中に責任は多少有るだろう。PR活動を行っている人達は真剣に考えねばならないタイミングだと考える。しかし、今は只ひたすら酒を飲むしかない。難しい事は、完全に世界的にコロナの脅威が過ぎ去ってから考えれば良い。因みに、このタイミングで自炊に目覚める人も多いと聞く。料理の腕が上がったという人もいる。料理酒として地酒を探すのも悪くない。例えば、今日は味噌を使うから・・・ジビエ系だから・・・新鮮な魚が手に入ったなどそのタイミングで飲む酒でもあり料理酒としてもその地域の特徴で酒を買うのも良いのではないだろうか。山の幸を主としている地域の酒蔵の酒を買いジビエ料理を作り、その料理を肴に酒を飲む。料理に使った酒を飲むので合わないわけがない。今後伝えていかねばならない事は日本酒の成分などの知識では無く、日本酒は飲むだけではなく上手に利用する事で生活に密着した物になり日本酒消費量が上がるという知識ではなかろうか。そして、この記事が掲載される時には活気のある世の中に戻っていることを祈るばかりである。


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