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.
During my stay in Kagoshima in October 2013, Tekkan Wakamatsu, the toji at Yamato Zakura Shuzo, where I did my internship, told me about a legendary izakaya in downtown Kagoshima City where the owners was an "ancient magician" (Tekkan-san may have said "a yoda", as he's fond of Star Wars references) in the art of "maewari" shochu.
After landing in Tokyo, I had kakiage soba (soba with fried seafood – crab and shrimp) and a draft beer. The perfect end to that long flight. After a 3 hour layover in Tokyo, I boarded a plane to Fukuoka, arriving at 9:45pm local time.