Sake has expanded into the global market via restaurants serving Japanese food. But foreign aficionados of Japan's traditional alcoholic drink are not limited to fans of Japanese cuisine. In Spain, for example, sake has caught on among attendees of an annual event for edgy techno dance music.
The event, ENTER., which attracts people from all over the world, has been held every summer on the Spanish resort island of Ibiza since 2012 under the supervision of Richie Hawtin. Hawtin is an acclaimed standard-bearer of techno music. Since the event's inauguration, sake produced through collaboration with Japanese sake brewers has played an important role.
The party officially starts a little after midnight each night. However, Hawtin begins pre-party time at about 9:30 p.m. by drinking sake with performers and participants at ENTER.Sake, a sake bar at the event venue.
Last year's event was held from early July to early October. Two brands of sake were served from specially labelled bottles - Soku, manufactured by Fujioka Shuzo in Kyoto Prefecture, and Dassai, manufactured by Asahishuzo Co. in Yamaguchi Prefecture. About 3,000 720-milliliter bottles were consumed.
Hawtin first visited Japan in 1993. At that time, he was captivated by the beautiful colors and "unbelievably good flavors" of sake he drank at a restaurant on a backstreet of Shibuya, Tokyo, he said. Subsequently, each time he came to Japan, he looked for sake brands that were new to him. Soon, he began visiting sake brewers nationwide to learn more about sake.
According to Hawtin, musicians want to be free, move their bodies spontaneously and open up their minds when performing, and drinking sake helps them realise these goals. The combination of techno music and sake is good for participants, too, to open up their minds and relax.
Yuki Ito, 41, who has acted as an agent for Hawtin's music work in Japan since 2001, visited sake brewers in Japan with him and became a partner in the ENTER.Sake project, which involves working with sake manufacturers to supply sake for the annual dance event.
"Although I'm Japanese, I learned about sake and began enjoying it as if guided by Richie," a smiling Ito said.
According to Ito, at this year's event, the sake menu will be expanded, offering five brands. The event's original brand, named ENTER.Sake Black Dot, will be served, too. It will be produced by a sake brewer in Aichi Prefecture. Ito expects about 5,000 bottles of sake will be consumed during this year's event, which is scheduled for July 2 to Sept. 17.
Also, this year's sake and the original brand will go on sale at retailers in Western countries.