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On the Sankei Biz site, Sake Samurai Coordinator Toshie Hiraide covers the evolution of the Wine and Spirits Educational Trust (WSET) foray into sake education – a study tour for newly-minted instructors.

Active in 74 countries worldwide, WSET started giving sake courses five years ago.

The Japanese government has invited newly qualified instructors for an educational tour every year, but 2018 is the fist time that the top nine instructors have undertaken an intensive “study tour” to bump up their skills.

The course has over 100 registered instructors, and the top nine based on performance came to Japan from the USA, Canada, Hong Kong, China and Australia between 4 and 9 October for a tour planned and guided by Anthony Moss and Natsuki Kikuya, who developed the WSET course.

The first day was an induction at the Brewing Society of Japan (BrewSoc) in Tokyo, including a lecture on yeast by Katsumi Nakahara, head of research at BrewSoc, and another on sake pairing from Motohiro Okoshi, wine adviser for Japan Airlines, and Marie Chiba, owner of the GEM by Moto izakaya in Ebisu, Tokyo.

The instructors also got some field experience through visits to four breweries: Kiyashō Shuzō in Mie Prefecture, makers of Jikon; Matsue Shuzō in Shiga Prefecture, makers of Matsunotsukasa; Tomita Shuzō,  makers of Shichihonyari, also in Shiga Prefecture; and Matsumoto Shuzō in Kyoto Fushimi, makers of Sawaya Matsumoto. They also visited a seed kōji cultivator in Kyoto [菱六, which could be Shiroku but I can’t find the reading online] to learn how to sprinkle kōji spores over rice.

The Next Generation Sake Rice Consortium (次世代酒米コンソーシアム, Jisedai Sakamai Konsōshiamu) held a seminar focused on rice, with Kazuhiro Iwashita, section head at the National Research Institute of Brewing (NRIB), Takehiro Masumura, lecturer at Kyoto Prefectural University, and sake brewing technician Kei’ichirō Katsuki. The instructors also had a tasting of sake made with next-generation sake rice.

The main event [according to the article] was the chance to harvest Yamada Nishiki sake rice from the Special A growing region of Furukawa, organised by Hyōgo Prefecture. The tour is expected to run again next year.