Category Archives: Movie & Documentary

The Birth of Sake

I urgently want to share that a great movie is currently available this week in NYC.

The Birth of Sake is a documentary film that explores how sake is handcrafted at a family-owned Japanese brewery in Ishikawa Prefecture. The movie is having a special screening till March 24, 2015 at the IFC Center in Manhattan, NY. This is a must to see movie for anyone interested in sake, Japanese food and its culture.


In a world where most mass produced goods are heavily automated, a small group of artisans must brave unusual working conditions to preserve a 2000-year-old tradition that we have come to know as saké. THE BIRTH OF SAKÉ is a cinematic documentary that 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. The workers at Yoshida Brewery are an eclectic cast of characters, ranging from 20 to 70 years old. As a vital part of this cast that must live and work for a six-month period through the brutal winter, charismatic veteran brewmaster Yamamoto (65) and the brewery’s sixth-generation heir, Yasuyuki Yoshida (27), are keepers of this tradition, and are the main characters who bring the narrative forward. Currently, stiff competition and the eventual retirement of experienced workers intensify the pressure of preserving quality of taste, tradition and brand reputation for Yoshida Brewery. As craftsmen who must dedicate their whole lives to the making of this world-class saké, their private sacrifices are often sizable and unseen.

94 Minutes, In Japanese with English subtitles, USA

Tribeca Film Festival: Special Jury Mention, Best New Documentary Director

Palm Springs International Film Festival: John Schlesinger Award for Debut Documentary


Here is the review of NY Times.

Mr. Shirai nicely shuffles in the back stories of several workers, and his shots of sky, sea and early morning landscapes could fit amid Hokusaiwoodcuts. At 94 minutes, the film’s pacing drags at times. But as Mr. Yamamoto might say, it takes what it takes. You can’t rush the process.

Documentary: Wa-Shoku ~Beyond Sushi~

“Wa-Shoku – Beyond Sushi,” is a passionate documentary of the men and women who dedicated themselves to spreading Washoku throughout America. Washoku means Japanese traditional cuisine. Washoku has been added to UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list in 2013, raising Japanese people hopes of enhancing its global recognition.

Today, Japanese food has entered in to the main stream and gained popularity in NYC. However, sometimes I ask myself what are the ingredients contained in my ordered food, and how does the restaurant handle raw fish as sashimi-grade seafood requires sensitive and delicate handling. One of my motivations to start this blog was to share my experiences with authentic, high-quality Japanese cuisine here in NYC. This film really helps people to understand what the real Washoku is.

Screening began on Friday, April 24 and will run through Thursday, April 30 at Cinema Village in Manhattan. Restaurants and chefs in NYC are featured in this film! After the show, I had a chance to speak with one of the producers and his team. We exchanged information about Japanese restaurants in NYC, and I was honored that they accepted my recommendation of Wasan for their first dinner in the city!