My parents established Imadeya in 1962. This is the origin of the company. The oldest son of a liquor merchant, I passed my school days playing soccer in high school and going on to focus on yachting in college. After graduation, I found employment with Sapporo Breweries Ltd. After working for Sapporo for three years, I returned to my family business. Because our business focused on delivering to area households, we had a hard time competing with mass retailers that had moved into the area. After careful deliberation, I decided to move into direct sales. I started selling to restaurants and bars directly. At the time, Imadeya's sales staff was yours truly only. Even now, I can remember the days of running around to many places each day with my clumsily made brochure clutched eagerly in both hands.
Today, we've gone beyond brochures for our clients and now coordinate service seminars, food and drink menus and more, to teach their entire staff about sake. We work together in total partnership with our clients where if they have any questions or concerns, they can come to us for consultation.
Company seminar at previous shop
As the second generation of my family's sake business, I wondered, "How can I continue my family's neighborhood sake shop into the future?" I asked myself this over and over every day. There's a limit to what you can carry in the shop, plus if I looked around, I was surrounded by other shops carrying similar items. One day when I was making the rounds at my job working for Sapporo Beer, I ran into a small neighborhood shop selling local sake brands, and its business was thriving. I remember how the neighborhood folks loved it. Because of this, I decided to scour the nation for the best sake from all over and offer it to my customers to enjoy.
I started by buying and trying not only Japanese sake from all over the country, but also honkaku shochu. When I found something impressive, I would write a letter to the maker and arrange a visit. This is how I first began interacting with makers. Of course, some weren't receptive to the idea. I had to be persistent, writing many letters and making many trips. But by inching forward in this way over time, I built many relationships that still endure to this day. Today, we're fortunate to be able to work as a partner with many excellent sake producers from across Japan.
In these times of rapid change, what is the responsibility of a shop that specializes in Japanese sake? I believe our responsibility is to continue working together with our partners to continually find new markets.
Visiting a production area
The more you know about Japanese sake, the more subtle and profound it becomes. The culture of sake is a vibrant one, with the bounty of nature as its main ingredient. It has a long history of traditional brewing methods that continues to evolve with the changing times. Sake is made with pride and I want to show this to the world. I've started connecting sake producers with dealers from around the world, starting with imports of sake, shochu and plum wine to Hong Kong, Canada and Singapore. We also visit various countries to give sake seminars to local sake dealers' staff. The response to Japanese sake worldwide has been wonderful. We want to better acquaint the world outside of Japan with our makers and how they make sake to further increase their value. This adds true value beyond just the price to each bottle of sake.
I want to leave something behind for the future of sake beyond just Imadeya. I want to bring Japanese sake to the whole world.
an overseas seminar
What really deepened my love of the wine business was a visit to a wine production area in France. It's funny to think back now, but I remember getting hit with the realization that, "Yes, wine is an agricultural product!" I was struggling with my awful memory to study for my sommelier certification, but with this realization, I got it !!
The wine I drank right there at the source was fresh and contained a minimum of antioxidants, agrochemicals or other additives. It was matured and showed striking personality. Most of all, even after enjoying quite a bit of this delicious wine, I didn't feel sluggish or drunk. I quickly understood that the body loves what's natural and good for it.
I started my original Beaujolais nouveau project in 2006. I wanted to start with something really unique and high quality, so I began with Beaujolais nouveau, which is the most well-known in the Japanese wine market. But what makes it completely different from the rest of the Japanese wine market is that it's produced by an actual grape farmer. I visit his farm several times a year to check on things. Furthermore, I carry out by myself the work of blending of the assemblage before it's bottled. Every year, our customers can enjoy Imadeya's own unique flavor. This wine's taste changes somewhat due to climatic conditions, so customers can enjoy something different each year.
I consider it part of my life's work to spread the popularity of Japanese wine. This is a truly interesting endeavor! From Hokkaido in the north to Miyazaki in the south, wine growers are working hard to grow the best wine grapes in a variety of climatic conditions. As a Japanese person myself, I can well imagine the challenges they face. I can also communicate directly with them. Through this communication I can understand the individuality of each wine they make, wine that can only be made in Japan. We believe that we can create a vibrant wine culture here in Japan and we're excited to make it happen.
With this endeavor in mind, we started working with local farmers to cultivate grapes and discover what grapes can be grown in each local area. We're excited to see the results in the many years to come!
My job with our sales division for restaurants is what you might call "Captain of Sales." Since most of our work is with Tokyo restaurants and bars, we opened the Imadeya Ginza office in 2012. The Ginza Showroom was born out of our strong desire to become a small academy for people who sell sake. Whether it's a sake tasting or a seminar for sake producers, every day we have something going on that we hope will further spread sake culture. To us, these business owners as well as our staff are important partners in the transmission of this vital culture to the world. We want to bring the deep knowledge and passion of sake makers to all of those who enjoy sake.