The floods in the Hitoyoshi region are believed to have killed more than 50 people and damaged or destroyed thousands of homes and businesses. This is deeply personal to us a www.kanpai.us since we count several Hitoyoshi shochu makers as our friends. The damage has spread further over the past week as Kyushu floods continue around the region.
Kagoshima is the southernmost of the mainland prefectures, located on the south end of Kyushu Island, and about as far as you can get from Tokyo without being in Okinawa. How did this remote place known for Satsuma Imo become so central in the shochu world? Good question. Shochu has a history of about 500 years, so let’s start in the middle.
Stephen Lyman has written the Complete Guide to Japanese Drinks, which was published in October by Tuttle. Find out more abou the book, where to buy it, and most importantly, where to meet Stephen to get your own signed copy as he travels Japan and North America.
I would not be exaggerating if I said there were chickens clucking in the yard with a 4x4 up on blocks, but this isn't the U.S., this is Japan, so instead there was a decrepit k-truck tucked under a tarp and a lithe cat warming itself in the sun. There was no activity, though I spied a middle aged man through a 2nd floor window of the old home. He quickly turned and disappeared from sight.
Had I known it was the last time I’d be sleeping in a bed for the next 10 weeks, I would have enjoyed the moment more. I found myself at 5 a.m. wide awake staring at the ceiling in my small hotel room in Amami City. It still hadn’t hit me how much different Amami is than the Japanese mainland.
I arrived in Amami still jet lagged and confused on where to go. My phone wasn't working. I had no place to stay. No English translations to rely on. No idea which bus to catch (there are no trains in Amami).