The first lecture held on 11 April 2018 was a great success, with the 600 students attending showing the level of interest in sake. April is the start of the academic year in Japan, so this was also the first lecture of the semester for this new subject.
It aims to study sake from different viewpoints, including agriculture, finance and medicine, and to equip students to explain its merits. It was announced in May 2017 as an academic-industrial-government collaboration between the university, Niigata Prefecture and the Niigata Brewers Association and resulted in the founding of the Sakeology Centre in April 2018.
Students in any course can take the sake classes. They were allocated a quota of 300 students - and had 820 applications.
The first lecture was given by Hitoshi Takahashi, head of the Sakeology Centre, who spoke about the origin and significance of the classes. Shunji Ōhira of the Niigata Brewers Association touched on the state of the Niigata sake brewing industry and their cooperative efforts to stimulate demand. He also said that he wanted to show how Niigata sake was different from sake from other prefectures, and to destroy sake's "uncool" image. He had great expectations of Japan's formal sake education course.
First year medical student Yūri Kawahira from Chiba (19) said that he associates Niigata with sake, and applied to take the class because it looked interesting and he's interested in the effect of alcohol on the brain.
The classes will have some lecturers from outside the university, and cover the basics of sake production, its history, how to drink it, and its place in formal Japanese cuisine and classical entertainment culture.