Monthly Archives: March 2019

EP 13 – Museum of Sake with Natsuki Kikuya / Return of Keith Norum

We’ve been telling you that it was coming (since last autumn!) and this week we finally delivered. We’re joined this week by none other than Natsuki Kikuya, founder of Museum of Sake, one of London’s foremost curators of the local sake industry.

Why a “curator of sake”? The depth and breadth of Natsuki’s work and relationship with sake is difficult to categorize into a preexisting job description. As someone shaping the landscape of the current (and as a result, also future) sake market in London, her self-imposed title feels more than apt.

Also, for those paying attention to last week’s episode, you know that Masumi’s Keith Norum was present for a good chunk of Natsuki’s interview, which means that he’s back! Together with Sebastien and Justin, the four discuss challenges in sake education and communication, international market expansion, sake discoveries in Japan, and more.

We were incredibly lucky to get these two stellar individuals in the studio. You’re all rather lucky this week, as we deliver back-to-back episodes two weeks in a row once again! (Don’t get used to it quite yet, however…)


We’d love your thoughts and feedback. Feel free to mail us at


Please also follow us on Instagram, Twiiter, and Facebook, if you’re so inclined. (That’s us asking nicely). And while it has been more than a little quiet for a long time now, expect updates to our YouTube channel sooner than later!

Also, reviews are great. If you have a moment, please do share a few kind words. It helps the show like you wouldn’t believe.


Big thanks to Frank for churning out another great recording this week. The Export Japan team is helping us with a few other show-related things at the moment, as well. We’ll have more to share here very soon.


We’ll be back for a big “kampai” here again in two weeks. Until then, for those in Tokyo, be sure to swing by Aoyama Sake Flea on March 30-31 at the United Nations University in Omotesando and say ‘hello’. We’ll be hanging out and doing interviews and recordings all weekend!


Thanks for listening!


Sake On Air is broadcast from the Japan Sake & Shochu Information Center and made possible with the generous support of the Japan Sake and Shochu Makers Association and is a joint production between Potts.K Productions and Export Japan.

Our theme is “Younger Today Than Tomorrow” composed by forSomethingNew for Sake On Air.

EP 12 – Masumi Sake with Keith Norum

This week’s show title tells you all you need to know. For those of you unacquainted with Masumi Sake, the brilliant Nagano-based craft of Miyasaka Brewing Company, you’ve come to the right place.


And there’s no one better equipped to deliver the goods on this topic than Keith Norum, a name synonymous with Masumi internationally. A long-time Suwa local and Miyasaka Brewing Company veteran, Keith is experienced, eloquent, and arguably one of the best in the business when it comes to communicating the appeal of sake, whether it be for newcomers, or the thoroughly initiated.


Justin more-or-less takes the reins for this interview, however Sebastien is in on the game this week, as well. We actually had another special guest sitting in for part of this one. While silent for this round, she’ll be sharing her wisdom in an upcoming episode very soon. Stay tuned!


For those that missed it, heir to the throne at Masumi, Katsuhiko Miyasaka, made a brief appearance on one of our past episodes recorded at Aoyama Sake Flea. We recommend giving that a listen, if you haven’t done so already.


And in more exciting news, we’ll be back at Aoyama Sake Flea right in the midst of sakura (cherry blossom) season! We’ll be doing a few more shows on March 30th-31st, so if anyone is in the area, please be sure to stop by for a “kampai”! You can look forward to those episodes very soon.


Any questions, comments, or words of encouragement are always welcome at


Please do follow along with our adventures via @sakeonair on all of your favorite people-watching services.


Until next round, Kampai!


Sake On Air is broadcast from the Japan Sake & Shochu Information Center and made possible with the generous support of the Japan Sake and Shochu Makers Association and is a joint production between Potts.K Productions and Export Japan.


Our theme is “Younger Today Than Tomorrow” composed by forSomethingNew for Sake On Air.

EP 11 – Junmai & Aruten

We decided that it was about time we sat down and hashed it out over something that is becoming an increasingly divisive topic in the sake world: to aruten or not to aruten? That is the question that John, little Chris, big Chris, and Justin pose to one another, as well as our listeners, in this week’s surprise release of Sake On Air.

For those unfamiliar with the concept, both junmai and aruten likely appear to be nothing more than drunken gibberish. However, to anyone trying to discern what’s inside (or rather, not inside) a bottle of sake, this is important vocabulary.


Aruten” is Japanese industry slang for sake which has had what is often translated as “brewer’s alcohol”, which is added to sake in some (many!) cases. It can also refer to the related process of adding such alcohol to a bottle of sake. While by no means necessary in order to craft a delicious fermented rice beverage, motivations for adding this somewhat ambiguous alcohol can range from anything as simple cost-cutting, to calculated and crafted usage leading to extremely high-end, carefully nuanced sake production. As reasons for aruten’s existence and prevalence very much run the gamut of motivations, it’s challenging to shuffle it into any one specific camp, or explain it in simple terms of “good” vs. “evil”. Aruten sake would include daiginjo and ginjo (without the word “junmai” attached), as well as honjozo and futsu-shu styles.


Junmai”, then, translated literally as, “pure rice”, is exactly what you might expect: sake that has not had any brewer’s alcohol added in any form, or in other words, has not received the “aruten treatment”. Originally, any and all sake produced was junmai. However, times change, as do brewers’ ambitions and the market’s tastes and perceptions. There’s a rather significant “all junmai” push from both inside and outside the industry, as of late. The reasons for that, however, are actually more varied and complicated than you might think.


As regular consumers and extreme foodies alike increasingly (and rightfully) demand more transparency in relation to food and beverage, the industry is up against further pressure to openly communicate not only “what” is inside a bottle of sake, but also justify “why” it ought to be there in the first place.


In a world where views and opinions feel like they’re becoming increasingly polarized, we set out to do our best in order to give both junmai and aruten a fair shake, going to bat for both parties in (hopefully) equal form. In this episode, the goal isn’t to provide our listeners with “the answer”, but the information to help everyone make more informed decisions for themselves.


Are you in the “junmai camp”? The “aruten camp”? Or maybe just the plain old, “love for sake camp”? Hopefully this week we can help you to spread the sake love wherever it is your inspirations and preferences may guide you.


As always, thanks to both our dedicated followers and new listeners that make it all possible. If you’d like to leave us a kind review, our love for you will flourish all the more. We can’t begin to tell you how much that helps.


If you have any thoughts about the show, feedback, questions or show ideas, feel free to contact us at

Please do follow along with us (@sakeonair) via InstagramTwitter and Facebook, as well. We try to send out some lovely photos and thoughtful words here and there in order to satiate those thirsty for more sake-related insight in between episode releases.

A big thanks (as always) to the amazing Frank Walter for bringing us to life each and every round.

Sake On Air is made possible with the generous support of the Japan Sake and Shochu Makers Association and is a joint production between Potts.K Productions and Export Japan.




Our theme is “Younger Today Than Tomorrow” composed by forSomethingNew for Sake On Air.