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The Mainichi newspaper site reports on a tactic to raise the profile and increase consumption of sake made in Hokkaido – showing the faces and telling the stories of the people who made it.

The “sake with a face” project comes from a group of sake retailers, producers and tōji master brewers. They hope that adding the farmers who grew the rice and the story of how the sake was brewed will allow the final product to communicate not just flavour but also help people identify with and support the makers.

The project is thought to be the first of its kind in the prefecture. The driving force behind the idea is Rie Kumada (39), managing director of the Meishu no Yakata sake shop in Sapporo. She was already trying to raise the profile of Hokkaido sake, but was aware that even though the prefecture had great sake its own residents weren’t drinking it.

She enlisted the help of producers in Shintotsukawa to have the rice harvested from just one field made into sake, and followed the cycle from transplanting rice seedlings through harvesting, then through brewing and pressing at Nippon Seishu in Sapporo.

The resulting sake is called “My Story – Hitotsume” (the first), a simple sake that brings out the flavour of the rice. Kumada hopes to share footage of rice cultivation and the brewing process online in future, to engage more of her fellow Hokkaido residents.

My Story costs JPY 2,500 for 1.8L, or JPY 1,250 for 720 ml. The first batch, released in April 2018, sold out completely and the second batch went on sale on 23 May and can be found at Meishu no Yakata and restaurants in Sapporo.