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The Shokuhin Sangyo Shinbunsha (Food Industry Reporter) site has an article on a new sake – “for beginners only”.

The Sempuku line from the Miyake Honten brewery in Hiroshima prefecture developed the 5% abv sake as a way to get people to give sake a try. It’s clearly labelled with the Japanese learner driver symbol, a downward-facing arrow with the left half yellow and right half green.

The tag on the bottle neck also has lots of pictures of chicks, including one hatching from an egg in the colours of the beginner driver symbol, in case you didn’t get it. (The symbol has come to be used for “beginners” in general.)

Other numbers given are nihonshudo of -50 and price of JPY 972 (tax included) for a 720 ml bottle. That very negative nihonshudo indicates an extremely sweet sake, which the article also describes as having juicy acidity and being deliberately designed to appeal to sake newbies. The tag also gives beginners helpful hints about enjoying sake responsibly, including not drinking and driving (the drink-drive limit in Japan is zero), enjoying sake at your own pace, and drinking plenty of yawaragimizu – water to “soften” the alcohol.

The 160 year old brewery also has a slew of collaborations on its site, including one of Leiji Matsumoto’s illustrations of Warring States figures that he’s using to promote sake. (Fighting Spirit)

I’m not sure how I feel about attempts to get people to drink, especially with tips that sound like they’re aimed at people who are extremely wary. (It also sounds condescending to me, but that’s cultural differences for you.)

If someone doesn’t want to drink alcohol, I think they should be left alone, although I appreciate that sake breweries are also trying to increase consumption domestically to stabilise the industry.

Why not market it to regular drinkers who want something sweet and light?