For the longest time, sake has taken center stage around the world. However, shochu is in fact Japan's national alcohol, enjoyed more commonly than sake at popular eateries, bars, izakayas and pubs all over Japan. Unlike its more internationally famous cousin sake which is brewed, shochu is distilled mostly from starches such as rice, barley, sweet potatoes or buckwheat, or brown sugar.

In Kagoshima, they brew Satsuma Shochu, made from locally grown sweet potatoes, known as satsuma-imo in Japanese. These potatoes are usually harvested in late autumn and early winter. Under the official recognition of the World Trade Organisation, the name “Satsuma Shochu” may only be used for Shochu liquor made under a specific set of strict regulations governing its production, just like the Bordeaux Wine of France and Scotch Whisky of Scotland.

This excellent video introduces the manufacturing process, from harvest to table:

The local way of enjoying Satsuma Shochu is to dilute it with water in an earthen pot called the “Kurojoka”(黒ぢょか)and served hot.

With colder weather rapidly approaching, you can look forward to sipping some delicious Satsuma Shochu to stay warm and happy in autumn in Japan.

Source: omizu / ©PIXTA

To learn more about Satsuma Shochu and other attractions waiting for you when you plan your trip to Kagoshima Prefecture, please visit this excellent website:


By - Ben K.