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The Birth of Saké | 酒の誕生 J-Film

  • Japan Information and Culture Center 1150 18th Street Northwest Washington, DC, 20036 United States (map)

J-Film: The Birth of Saké

Presented by the Japan Information and Culture Center, Embassy of Japan and the Japan Commerce Association of Washington, D.C., Inc.

Best Documentary Special Jury Mention - 2015 Tribeca Film Festival

Best Documentary Award - 2016 Palm Springs International Film Festival

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.

Post-Film Discussion and Saké Tasting!

After the screening there will be a discussion and Q&A with director Erik Shirai. With the generous support of World Sake Imports there will also be a light saké tasting after the discussion featuring saké produced at the same brewery featured in the film.

For this event, guests must present a valid ID to verify their age.

Erik Shirai, Director

Erik Shirai is a NYC filmmaker working around the world on renowned documentary, TV shows and features. Erik has worked as a cameraman on the Emmy award winning TV show No Reservation with Anthony Bourdain and recently his film, The Birth of Saké, was awarded Best Documentary Director Special Jury mention at Tribeca Film Festival in 2015.  In 2008, Erik launched his own production company Cebu Osani Creative as a foundation for his creative ideals, to create films that are compelling, original and visually cinematic. Erik’s main goal is to produce one-of-a-kind content with integrity and respect.


In Japanese with English subtitles | Not Rated | 94 min | 2015 | Directed by Erik Shirai

Photos: © Erik Shirai

This event is presented together with the Japan Commerce Association of Washington, D.C., Inc.

This is event is generously supported by World Sake Imports.


This event is free and open to the public, but registration is required for security purposes. Doors open at 6:00PM; screening begins at 6:30PM. No admission or re-entry will be permitted after doors close at 7:00PM or when seating is filled, whichever occurs first. Registered guests will be seated on a first come, first served basis. Please arrive early as seating is limited and registration does not guarantee guests a seat.


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Wednesday, September 21, 2016 from 6:30 PM to 9:00 PM (EDT) - Add to Calendar


Japan Information and Culture Center, Embassy of Japan - 1150 18th Street Northwest Suite 100, Washington, DC 20036 - View Map