Japan Eats

Japan Booze Blind: Vodka

Is there any real difference between so-called premium vodkas and the cheap stuff? Albrecht Stahmer and Junko Wada join Christopher Pellegrini to test three different brands.

Guests Junko Wada and Albrecht Stahmer sit down with host Christopher Pellegrini to blind-taste three kinds of vodka: Suntory (Japan), Skyy (U.S.) and Okuhida (Japan). Once again, the show was recorded at Kokubunji’s The Lighthouse.

Thanks once again to Duncan Sculpher and The Lighthouse team for inviting us to film there.

Japan Booze Blind: Wheat Beer

Guests Duncan Sculpher and Albrecht Stahmer join host Christopher Pellegrini in testing three types of wheat beer.

Several episodes of Japan Booze Blind actually predate the JapanEats.tv website. They were uploaded to YouTube, then pretty much ignored… until now! We recently raided the archives and will be posting the shows here over the coming weeks.

Marvel at the shaky camerawork! Thrill to the fuzzy audio! Gasp at Chris’s ever-changing facial hair! As always, we welcome your comments on these early efforts.

In this episode, Chris has guests Duncan Sculpher (proprietor of Kokubunji’s Lighthouse) and Albrecht Stahmer (notorious reprobate) blind-taste three wheat beers: Baird Brewing’s Wheat King Ale (Japan), Hitachino Nest’s Weizen (Japan) and Paulaner (Germany).

Video: “Picnic” by Sachiko Sasada

Friend of Japan Eats, Sachiko Sasada, is a Tokyo-based artist who spent a dozen years studying her craft in India. She told us that this short stop motion animation film was her first crack at the genre and took her two and a half months to complete. Another film is in the planning stages and could involve stop motion or animation.

She has also done artwork for Transit magazine (here and here).

Her blog feature more of her creations.

Music by Li Daiguo

His music available on

Video: Sumashi-jiru (clear soup)

Keiko Inomata and Yutaka Yasuda explain how to prepare sumashi-jiru (Japanese clear soup)

We’re pleased to present this video by the talented folks at Yasuda Photo Studio.

Keiko Inomata is a researcher and lecturer focusing on kaiseki cuisine. Born in Tokyo, she is a registered nutritionist and consults on menus for the food service industry.

Yutaka Yasuda is a photographer/videographer who in 2001 established the Yasuda Photo Studio in Nakano. He specializes in food photography.

Update: RSS feeds, iTunes and you

We’ve been working hard to make our audio and video shows easier to find and to subscribe to. To this end, Japan Eats has made some changes to the way in which we present and distribute audio and video content.

Previously, we had one RSS feed which was split into three categories. Those who subscribed to the feed received everything we released, whether it was a short video or a longer audio podcast. Nice, but not exactly good for those who only want the shows about Japanese food and have no interest in Japanese drink, or vice versa.

We now have three separate shows on iTunes, each with its own dedicated RSS feed. They are Japan Booze Blind, our flagship drinks show, Tokyo Bites, our show about eating out in the Japanese capital and the Japan Eats Podcast, our panel show where we discuss the latest in Japanese food and drink news.

What does this mean for you?

All our shows are available to watch here on our site. If you wish to subscribe to the shows, the easiest method is to search for the particular show in the iTunes Store and hit the subscribe button. If you use a different subscription service, you will probably have to enter the new feed’s URL manually. They are:

The Japan Eats Podcast can still be found at:

Obviously we encourage you to subscribe to all of our shows, but if you’re only interested in one particular show, that’s great too.

Help promote Japan Eats

We welcome your feedback and encourage you to review our shows on iTunes, like Japan Eats on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. The iTunes reviews are especially helpful as they reach the widest audience of podcast-savvy viewers.

Thanks for taking an interest in what we’re doing here at Japan Eats.

Japan Booze Blind: Kyushu (Part III)

In the third and final episode of JBB’s Kyushu series, Christopher Pellegrini tries Kirishima and Kuro Denen shochu

Convenience stores in southern Kyushu usually carry a wide selection of shochu. Unlike in Tokyo, much of what can be found in Miyazaki, Kagoshima and Kumamoto prefectures comes in small cans or bottles, similar to the so-called ‘one cup’ nihonshu found elsewhere in the country.

We stopped by a combini and picked up a couple that caught our eye. According to its label, Kirishima is from Miyazaki prefecture and is an imo jochu (potato shochu). It’s easily recognized by its very own gold-colored tasting cup. Kuro Denen, meanwhile, comes from Kagoshima prefecture and (we read with interest) is only 12 per cent by volume.

Once again, we sat beneath Kagoshima City’s cherry blossoms and familiarized ourselves with Kyushu’s favorite spirit.

Watch Part I.

Watch Part II.

Japan Booze Blind: Kyushu (Part II)

Christopher Pellegrini samples an Alt and a Kölsch from Miyazaki’s Aya Brewery

Back in Kagoshima City after a wonderful trip to Miyazaki Prefecture to visit the good people at Kuroki Honten Distillery, we found ourselves a nice place under the cherry blossoms and cracked open a couple of souvenirs that we brought back with us.

Watch Part I.

Watch Part III.

Japan Booze Blind: Kyushu (Part I)

Japan Booze Blind visits southern Kyushu and road tests Kuro Kirishima shochu

On our way from Kagoshima Prefecture to Miyazaki Prefecture, we decided to see what might be available for our mid-trip perusal from the concession cart that rolls by every half hour or so.

The standard fare, as far as the alcohol menu in central/northeastern Japan is concerned, is canned beer, chu-hai and ‘one cup’ (nihonshu in a glass jar). Because we were traveling through Kyushu, however, we were pleasantly surprised to find one additional inhabitant on the menu.

Cup shochu. Kuro Kirishima to be exact.

And we decided to give it a whirl because we know that you’d be disappointed if we hadn’t. This is JBB after all. For the record, Kuro Kirishima was an easy-drinking preamble to our distillery tour later that day.

Watch Part II.

Watch Part III.

Japan Booze Blind: Nippon Craft Beer Festival (Part IV)

Christopher Pellegrini is joined by Teruya Hori of Laff International.

Happy New Year! In the final edition of our four-part NCBF 2010 series, Japan Booze Blind’s Christopher Pellegrini interviews one of Baird Brewing’s go-to engineers, Mr. Teruya Hori. Hori-san offers a unique perspective because his job is to make sure that beer is stored and poured under the best conditions possible.

While talking with us, he hinted at a challenge that was not mentioned in the first three parts of this interview series. Politely put: most bars and restaurants in Japan have little more than a vague understanding of how to care for and serve draft beer. Indeed, Japan Eats has seen kegs sitting out in the sun on landings and back balconies across this fair city. Granted, they’re normally cylinders of run-of-the-mill beer, but it is easy to imagine what might happen to a craft beer’s quality if it is forced to endure consecutive Tokyo summer days unprotected. Just like we heard back in part one of this series, “Bad Beer is the Enemy” rings true in the overall message of this interview as well.

Japan Booze Blind: Nippon Craft Beer Festival (Part II)

In Part II of our Nippon Craft Beer Festival (NCBF) coverage, Christopher speaks with Tomoko Sonoda, Brew Master at HarvestMoon (Ikspiari)

We’ll take Disney Sea over Land any day. Not because Sea is better–it’s just that you can’t buy beer at Land (or so we’ve been told). If you’re in the vicinity of the Disney realm out near Maihama station in Chiba Prefecture, and you’re thirsty, thankfully there’s an alternative beer option that far surpasses the macros available inside the magic kingdom. It’s called HarvestMoon.

HarvestMoon featured heavily at the Craft Beer Festival this fall, in which dozens of Japan’s finest craft beers were offered on tap to hundreds of beer enthusiasts at Sumida Riverside Hall.

In part two of JBB’s NCBF interviews, we had a chance to speak with HarvestMoon’s brewmaster, Tomoko Sonoda. Ms. Sonoda was kind enough to give us a brewer’s perspective on the challenges facing the craft beer industry in Japan. She advocates experimentation and adaptation as a way to win over new fans and help the industry grow.

Watch Part I of the video here.