#1 From rock bottom to success? by Hiroshi SAKURAI
"Dassai's new challenge: New Yorkan waters"
This is quite sudden, but I'm going to live in the US in a couple of years. I don't know for how long, maybe for one year. This is for our company to start making sake in Hyde Park, New York. It is going to be the first overseas sakagura of Asahi Shuzo. I'm taking three employees with me, so there will be four of us including me. Although I am planning to employ locals as well.
It is often written in papers that Japanese sake is trendy overseas, but I really do not believe it to be true. Although it is true that the demand is increasing, it’s nothing compared to wine. One could even say that there is room for a lot of growth. As consumption of sake continues to decrease in Japan, we have no choice but to go abroad. Furthermore, I've always believed that in order for sake to go global, local production is necessary. I just never thought I would go and do it myself.
One day, I heard from the Culinary Institute of America that there was a piece of land available nearby, so I thought this was a great opportunity. The production capacity should be about 7,000 goku (one goku is about 180 liters). Basically, we will make it the same way as the usual Dassai, the differences will be in terms of water and climate. The reason why I have to go there myself is because, well, nobody can really tell what is going to happen.
I suppose there will be a lot of failures, like the time in 1999 when our toji ran off and left us to craft sake on our own. My staff is excellent at doing what they are told to do, but if we are going to make a bunch of mistakes anyway, I have more experience than them in that field. The fact is that I have made many, many mistakes in the past.
Back in the days, very few people were able to read the Japanese characters for the word “Dassai”. Nowadays, most sake lovers can read it. That's the pride of my life, having made a Junmai Daiginjo sake from scratch with a crumbling company. I had lived a series of failures in my life, and so even if we surely will make mistakes in the US, I believe that there is success at the end of the road.
The brand name of the sake to be made in the US is going to be "Dassai Blue". It’s from a Japanese proverb saying “Blue is bluer than indigo”. It’s a play-on-words, I’ve already told the staff that the sake will have to surpass its Japanese counterpart. In other words, Dassai Blue needs to rival the original Dassai. The problem is that we don't speak English at all…
Oh well, I'm sure we can handle it. I have been able to get by in the past.
Next story : "A Sakagura-born boy"