Can Japanese Sake Culture Survive in the Future?

Sake has had a close relationship with the beliefs of Japanese people since ancient times, and has been treated as a link between people and the gods, making it an indispensable part of our country's culture. “SAKE” has world widely known for being Japanese national liquor, but with the rise of wine and beer, consumption has dropped to less than one-third of its peak level, and furthermore,  the number of sake breweries in Japan has fallen sharply. (From the National Tax Agency, Taxation Division, Liquor Tax Division, "Liquor Bookmark" ). With the global trend of Japanese food, the demand for sake from overseas is growing. However, unlike wine, sake has a tendency to deteriorate over time, making it difficult to control its quality and delivering it in the best condition to overseas.Under these circumstances, conveying the inherent richness of sake and spreading its appeal to the world has become a major mission for the survival of Sake culture.​​​​​​​


The invention of the third type of Japanese sake, neither Sake nor Shochu. 


Naorai, a venture company from Hiroshima that aims to pass on a diverse and rich sake culture to the future, takes its name from the act of drinking sake after a festival. With same vision in mind, we enlisted Eisuke Tachikawa as our Chief Design Officer from the very beginning of the company's existence, and have been working side by side with him since the development of our first sparkling sake product, MIKADO LEMON. By distilling sake at low temperatures, we have discovered a completely new method of distilling sake that does not compromise its unique taste and flavor, meanwhile keep the high quality of sake.

Normal spirits are made by heating the brew in a distiller and cooling through vapors to return it to liquid form. However, because Jōchu is unheated and distilled, it can be made into a distilled sake that retains “THE SPIRITS OF JAPAN”. We have combined the process of cold distillation with purification, an important concept in Shinto prayer, to create the brand name “JO-CHU ~ Purified Spirit," which sounds close to “Shochu", a distilled liquor familiar to Japanese people.The design of bottle also features a “SHIDE", a motif that expresses the essence of Shinto prayer, hung from a shimenawa rope at shrines and used as a sign of sanctuary and an exorcism tool. Also, by tracing the shape of water in the balloon, the shape of the bottle reproducing this pristine shape created by the tension of the liquid, it represents the moment when a drop of purified alcohol falls.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

祭りの後に御神酒を飲み交わす行為に由来する社名を持つナオライは、多様で豊かな日本酒文化を未来に引き継ぐことを目指す日本酒のベンチャー企業です。そのヴィジョンに共感した私たちは、創業当初から太刀川英輔が最高デザイン責任者として参画し、第1弾商品となったスパークリング日本酒「MIKADO LEMON」の開発時から並走を続けてきました。時間が経つほど品質が劣化し、管理も難しい日本酒の課題に対して自問自答を続ける中で、私たちは日本酒を低温で蒸留することで日本酒特有の旨味や風味を損なわず、さらに品質の劣化も防ぐ「低温浄溜」というまったく新しい製法を見出し、日本酒でも焼酎でもない第三の和酒を発明するに至りました。

通常の蒸留酒(=スピリッツ)は、醸造酒を蒸留器で加熱し、蒸気を冷却することで液体に戻すという製造プロセスが取られますが、浄酎では非加熱による蒸留が行われるため、日本酒の魂(スピリッツ)を残したまま蒸留酒にすることができます。私たちは、低温蒸留のプロセスを神道の祈りにおける重要な概念である「浄化」と重ね合わせ、日本人に馴染み深い蒸留酒「焼酎(しょうちゅう)」の音感を残した「浄酎(じょうちゅう)- Purified Spirit」をブランド名に据えました。ボトルのデザインにおいても、神道の祈りの本質を表現するモチーフとして、神社でしめ縄などに垂らされ、聖域を示す印や祓具などの役割を持つ「紙垂(しで)」をあしらっています。また、風船の中に水を入れた形をトレースし、液体の張力が生み出す自然のままの形を再現したボトルの形状を通して、浄化されたピュアなアルコールの水滴が落ちる瞬間を表現しています。

The challenge of renewing Japan's sake culture continues.


The JO-CHU, which was pre-sold on a crowdfunding site and attracted a lot of attention, with support exceeding the target amount. Naorai continues to offer new options for sake breweries throughout Japan, such as making JO-CHU, or maturing sake in wooden barrels. As the third generation of Japanese sake after Sake and Shochu, JO-CHU continues to take on a variety of challenges in order to introduce the appeal and new possibilities of Japanese sake culture to the world.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​


Art Direction
NOSIGNER (Eisuke Tachikawa)
Graphic Design
NOSIGNER (Eisuke Tachikawa, Ryota Mizusako, Jin Nagao)
Product Design
NOSIGNER (Eisuke Tachikawa, Daichi Komatsu)

Hiroshima, Japan

Pentawards: SILVER AWARD (2021)

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