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Northeast Japan's Miyagi Pref. brews plan to boost sake exports to Europe

Representatives of sake breweries and others participating in the announcement of "Miyagi Styles," the Miyagi Prefectural Government-led project to expand sake exports, are seen in Aoba Ward, Sendai, on Dec. 17, 2021. (Mainichi/Hana Fujita)

SENDAI -- The Miyagi Prefectural Government has unveiled a project to boost exports of locally produced sake to Europe through collaboration with eight breweries.

    The sake breweries in the northeast Japan's Miyagi Prefecture that export their products are small in scale and the number of lots they can secure is limited. The prefectural government aims to increase the volume of shipments and promote sake produced in the prefecture by collaborating with the breweries and a logistics company.

    In the project unveiled on Dec. 17, dubbed "Miyagi Styles," each brewery will purposely keep its brand name secret, and the brewers will prepare five types of sake based on taste and aroma with an original unified label. They will also introduce food pairings that go well with each type of sake.

    In January 2022, they expect to export about 380 bottles to Germany. In cooperation with a local online retailer, they are also planning online promotion as well as tasting events for buyers.

    In addition to representatives from sake breweries, the project launch event was attended by members of "Miyagi Ricey Lady," who promote rice produced in the prefecture, and Roth Antoine, 34, assistant professor at Tohoku University, who tasted food paired with the sake.

    Antoine, who is from Switzerland, commented, "Sake goes well with traditional European cuisine. The image of Japan is good (in Europe), so I think people will drink it without hesitation."

    Hiroki Sugawara, 30, managing director of Otokoyama Honten brewery in the Miyagi Prefecture city of Kesennuma, said, "We will offer the signature products of each sake brewery. We want to use this as a foothold to let people know about Miyagi's good sake overseas, where famous sake brands such as 'Dassai' and 'Juyondai' are well known."

    Kazuyuki Hoshi, director of the prefecture's international business promotion office, said, the coronavirus pandemic "has halted the flow of people to and from overseas, but the logistics business is accelerating. We would like to link this to the development of sales channels."

    (Japanese original by Hana Fujita, Sendai Bureau)

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