Livedoor News covers an episode of Fuji TV PRIME news alpha where former Japanese national football team member Hidetoshi Nakata was interviewed and asked about his involvement with sake.
After hanging up his boots Nakata became a representative for the Japan Craft Sake Company, taking on a new challenge to communicate the wonders of sake to the world.
Asked how he became interested in sake, Nakata confesses that he preferred wine when he lived in Italy. He saw non-Japanese players who owned their own wineries, and thought that was cool, but also wondered if it would be interesting to find out more about sake the same way others had learned about wine.
Since then, he's visited over 300 kura in Japan. He became obsessed with finding a way to get the same taste when sake was sent overseas as you did at the brewery. He felt a sense of impending crisis about how it was being drunk abroad.
Consumption of sake outside Japan is rising, with exports doubling in the last decade and new records set every year for the last eight. Despite this seemingly good news, whenever Nakata drank sake abroad he almost never found that it had been handled properly. Stressing that sake is sensitive and delicate, Nakata notes that temperature changes can cause its flavour to change almost immediately and so it needs to be looked after.
That's what prompted him to start his current business - the world's first sake cellar capable of storage at -5°C. Not that he recommends drinking it at that temperature, it just keeps the sake from deteriorating.
Nakata says he has no intention of making sake himself, but rather sees his role as creating an environment where it can be enjoyed. In particular, creating the conditions for bars and restaurants worldwide to have a -5°C sake cellar in the same way they now have wine fridges.
Asked about his strategy for promoting sake overseas, he says that the sake is good enough by itself, the problem is that it's no longer in good shape by the time it gets where it's going. That's what he aims to change.