You are currently viewing Ep 44: Discovering Yamaguchi Sake with Jim Rion

Ep 44: Discovering Yamaguchi Sake with Jim Rion

A new English-language book about sake is always big news. They do not come that often. It’s passed almost a year since Exploring the World of Japanese Craft Sake by Nancy Matsumoto and Michael Tremblay (see Episode 30). And this time we are treated by Discovering Yamaguchi Sake by Jim Rion.

You should know Jim very well. He’s a sake writer, translator and co-host of the fantastic Sake Deep Dive podcast together with Andrew Russell. They both have been on Sugidama Podcast before talking about modern sake trends in Episode 35. Give it a spin if you haven’t listened to it yet.

In this episode, we are talking with Jim about his amazing book. I’ve read it already and it was a joy to read. Designed as a travel book covering Yamaguchi prefecture’s 23 producing sake breweries plus one so-called ghost brewery,  Discovering Yamaguchi Sake is much more than that. You will learn about the history of Yamaguchi in the context of the overall Japanese history, and find out a lot of interesting facts about the regions and local towns, the culture, food and other aspects of the Yamaguchi prefecture.

But more importantly, you will get to know the people behind famous and not-so-famous brands of Yamaguchi sake. You will learn about their work and life philosophy, will be moved by their personal stories, worry about their hardships and rejoice with their success.

The book puts in focus the idea that sake is not just a product of its ingredients, but a part of the local history, culture and community.  It is what makes sake a drink that continues to delight people for the last 2,000 years.

So if you have not yet bought Discovering Yamaguchi Sake, do it! I can recommend it full-heartedly and without any reservations. The links to independent online stores selling the book in the US and the UK below.

Don’t forget, Sugidama Podcast now has a sponsor, London Sake, an excellent online sake store. London Sake has one of the widest selections of premium and craft sake available online today. They deliver across the UK and Europe, and with over 100 sake from 25 breweries, there really is something for everyone.

Using simple online tasting notes and sensible, affordable food pairings will help you find the perfect sake without any of the fuss. Listeners of the podcast can get a 10% discount Listen to the episode to get the magical code! London Sake: making sake simple.

Episode’s Content:

  • From the idea to the final print of the book
  • Yamaguchi sake breweries. Why is Dassai the first on the list?
  • Yamaguchi terroir: does it exist?
  • Market savvy: sake marketing and branding
  • Connections sections of the book
  • People stories: who makes sake in Yamaguchi
  • Why ask toji for sake recommendations?
  • What is so cool about Yamaguchi sake
  • Discoveries during the writing of the book
  • Future of Yamaguchi sake
  • Visiting Yamaguchi
  • Future plans
  • Sake of the episode:
    •  Horie Kinsuzume Junmai Ginjo Yamahai

Sake mentioned:
Horie Kinsuzume Junmai Ginjo Yamahai
Yamaguchi Sake

Where to buy Discovering Yamaguchi Sake:
IndiePubs (US)
Foyles (UK)
I also used a snippet of the Yamaguchi prefecture song, 山口県民の歌 (full version).

Sugidama Podcast on Podchaser – please review if you don’t use Apple Podcasts

Music used:
Wirklich Wichtig (CB 27) by Checkie Brown

Just Arround the World (Kielokaz ID 362) by KieLoKaz


Vocal: Svetlana


Alex is a London-based sake blogger, podcaster, IWC Sake judge and sake advocate. He is a publisher of the Sugidama Blog website and a host of the Sugidama Podcast. Alex has an International Kikisake-shi (Sake Specialist) qualification from SSI (Sake Service Institute). He sees his mission as expanding the awareness of Japanese sake among as many people as possible and helping the growing community of sake lovers to bring together beautiful Japanese sake and non-Japanese food as a way to build a better understanding between our cultures.

Leave a Reply