I have to admit my knowledge of saké is rather limited, but I recently came across the trailer for The Birth of Saké from director Erik Shirai, and now can’t wait to see it.
The cinematic documentary The Birth of Saké, reveals the story of passionate saké-makers and what it takes to make world-class saké at Yoshida Brewery, a 144-year-old family-owned small brewery in northern Japan.
In a world where most mass produced goods are heavily automated, the film focuses on a small group of artisans, braving unusual working conditions to preserve a 2000-year-old tradition.
The workers at Yoshida Brewery are an eclectic cast of characters, ranging from 20 to 70 years old. Brought together to live and work for a six-month period through the brutal winter to craft their product. It tells the story of the craftsmen who dedicate their whole lives to the making of this world-class saké, highlighting their private sacrifices, which are often sizable and unseen.
What stands out most for me is the intense determination and amount of hard work that goes into creating something seemingly simple. In a recent interview with Bon Appétit magazine Shirai describes the challenge of sake making saying:
What people don’t understand is that you can’t just make sake with machines and program everything. There are all of these variables because it’s a living thing. Things are changing based on the type of rice, the type of grain, how it was steamed. You have to be able to adapt and work with it. Only someone who has that experience can do that.