Sunday, February 8, 2009

Philip Harper: Saké Savant & Master Brewer

Saké from the Tamagawa ("Jewel River") brewery may soon reach the U.S. Though it is always exciting when new Saké becomes available, this Saké is rather unique. It is being created by the only non-Japanese toji ("master brewer") that exists.

For more information, you should check out a new article, written by John M. Glionna, in the Los Angeles Times called "A foreigner hopes to revive Japan's flagging spirits."

The article provides a brief bio of Philip Harper, a 42-year-old native of Cornwall, England, who has achieved a great honor and accomplishment. About 20 years ago, no one could have predicted how Harper's life would turn out. He came to Japan in 1988 to teach English, despite the fact he did not speak Japanese. While there, he became enamored with Saké and eventually started working at a brewery, enduring all of the hard work as well as the difficulty of being a non-Japanese.

In 2001, all of his efforts came to fruition and he rose to the esteemed rank of toji, a great achievement for anyone. Last year, the toji of the Tamagawa brewery died and the owner, Yoshito Konoshita almost closed the brewery but decided to give Harper a chance. Harper became the toji of Tamagawa and has been working hard to increase sales, with plans to sell their Saké in the U.S. later this year.

This is a great story so check out the article. I will keep an eye out for when the Saké arrives in the U.S. and will report when it does.


Karise said...

Tamagawa Kinsho is now available at Sakaya in NYC!

Richard Auffrey said...

Great news! Thanks very much for telling me about it. It gives me another reason to make a trip to Sakaya very soon.

Anonymous said...

I heard about Mr.Harper's interview on Japanese radio show a few months ago. His story was quite interesting and impressive. I was going to visit his brewery at that time,so i remember the interview very well. If anyonone visits Hawaii-Oahu, stop by our restaurant-Noboru Japanese Restaurant to check his beautifully made, Kinsho-Daiginjo.