Can the sake industry continue to exist in the future?


Changes in alcoholic beverage sale/consumption

Changes in the number of sake manufacturers

Since ancient times, sake has had a close relationship with the religious beliefs of Japanese people. Sake is an essential part of Japanese culture, as it is an extremely important existence that is treated as a connection between people and the gods. Despite the fact that sake is now a global presence, the current level of sake consumption in Japan has fallen to less than one-third of peak consumption as a result of the rise in popularity of beverages like wine and beer. The sake industry is facing a difficult situation, as the number of sake breweries across Japan has been decreasing rapidly (according to the "Report on Alcoholic Beverages" by the Liquor Tax Office of the Taxation Department of the National Tax Agency). Overseas demand for sake has been increasing thanks to the global Japanese food boom. However, given that sake differs from wine in the fact that its quality deteriorates with time, it is extremely difficult to deliver sake, for which quality control is a challenge, to the world in its best condition. Based on these circumstances, correctly sharing the inherent depth of flavor and other appeals of sake with people across the world and creating industry-wide shifts and new ways of enjoying sake have come to play key roles in the mission to preserve the culture of sake.​​​​​​​


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


Naorai, which is an event that is held after the Shinto festival called matsuri and involves drinking and passing around a sake offering to the gods called Omiki, serves as the inspiration behind the name of this startup from Hiroshima that aims to pass down the fulfilling culture of sake to future generations. Having bought into this vision, Tachikawa has served as the CDO (Chief Design Officer) since the founding of Naorai while continuing to move forward hand in hand with the company since the product development phase of Mikado Lemon, the sparkling sake that was the initial product launched by the company. 
During this process, Naorai discovered a completely new preparation method involving the low-temperature distillation of sake to prevent quality deterioration, which had been a major issue for sake, without affecting the distinctive umami and flavor of sake, resulting in the invention of the third type of Japanese alcohol that is neither sake nor shochu.

Conventional distilled spirits are manufactured through a process of heating fermented liquor in a still and cooling the steam to return it to a liquid state. However, since low-temperature distillation is carried out without heating, sake can be converted into a distilled spirit while keeping its flavor—or spirit, so to say. We likened the process of low-temperature distillation to the important concept of purification (pronounced jo-ka) that is part of Shinto worship, as we came up with the name of "JO-CHU - Purified Spirit," which sounds similar to shochu, the distilled sake that is close to Japanese hearts, for this new type of alcohol.

With regard to the design of the bottle, we incorporated “shide”, which are hung from Shimenawa at Shinto shrines and serve as tools of purification and indicators of sacred precincts, as a symbol that represents the true nature of Shinto worship. Also, in order to have the bottle recreate the natural shape produced by the tensile strength of liquids, we traced the shape of a balloon filled with water as a representation of the moment when a drop of purified alcohol falls.


豊かな日本酒文化を未来に引き継ぐことを目指す広島発のベンチャー企業「ナオライ」は、祭りの後に御神酒を飲み交わす行為である「直会」を社名の由来としています。そのヴィジョンに共感した太刀川は、ナオライ創業当初からCDO(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」の商品開発時から並走を続けてきました。

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。しかし低温浄溜では非加熱による蒸留が行われるため、日本酒の風味、いわば魂(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」を新たな酒の名称として考案しました。


Challengers who explore new possibilities for the sake of industry.


The presale for Jochu that took place on a crowdfunding site in 2019 comfortably outperformed the target for financial support, and Naorai came to attract attention as a presence that will renew the Japanese culture of sake. Naorai then developed Kohaku Jochu, in which Jochu is flavored using the zest of organic lemons cultivated in the company's own orchard and matured in oak barrels, as a new product in 2021. During the International Spirits Challenge 2021, which is a global competition for alcohol, Jochu won the Silver Medal, and Kohaku Jochu won the Bronze Medal. Naorai will continue to take on various challenges in order to share the appeal and potential of the Japanese culture of sake to people all over the world through JO-CHU, which is the third type of Japanese alcohol that follows in the footsteps of sake and shochu.
At present, Naorai engages in activities that go beyond the company's own production of sake, such as by presenting sake breweries across Japan with the new option of producing Jochu and cultivating organic lemons and rice in conjunction with neighboring producers. Together with Naorai, we will continue to take on the challenge of bringing sustainability to the various ecosystems surrounding sake, such as the sake industry, the local community, and the natural environment.


2019年にクラウドファンディングサイトで行われた浄酎の先行販売では、目標金額をはるかに上回る支援が集まり、日本の酒文化を更新する存在として注目されるようになりました。さらに2021年には、自社農園で栽培したオーガニックレモンの皮で浄酎を香りづけし、オーク樽で熟成させた新商品「琥珀浄酎」を開発。世界的な酒類品評会である「International Spirits Challenge 2021」では、「浄酎」が銀賞、「琥珀浄酎」が銅賞に輝きました。これからも「浄酎」を日本酒、焼酎に続く第三の和酒として、国内外に日本の酒文化の魅力や新たな可能性を発信していくために、さまざまなチャレンジを続けていきます。

JO-CHU Official Site 公式サイト:https://jo-chu.com/

Art Direction
NOSIGNER (Eisuke Tachikawa)
Graphic Design
NOSIGNER (Eisuke Tachikawa, Ryota Mizusako, Jin Nagao)
Product Design
NOSIGNER (Eisuke Tachikawa, Daichi Komatsu)
Web Design
NOSIGNER (Eisuke Tachikawa, Ryota Mizusako, Jin Nagao)
NOSIGNER (Naoki Hijikata)
NOSIGNER (Yuichi Hisatsugu)

Hiroshima, Japan

Pentawards: SILVER AWARD (2021)

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