The Birth of Saké | 酒の誕生 J-Film


Presented by JICC, Embassy of Japan and the Japan Commerce Association of Washington DC

A richly immersive documentary…


...his shots of sky, sea and early morning landscapes could fit amid Hokusai woodcuts.

New York Times

In a world where most mass produced goods are heavily automated, a small group of artisans must brave unusual working conditions to preserve a 2000-year-old tradition that we have come to know as saké.

THE BIRTH OF SAKÉ is a cinematic documentary that reveals the story of passionate saké-makers and what it takes to make world-class saké at Yoshida Brewery, a 144-year-old family-owned small brewery in northern Japan.

The workers at Yoshida Brewery are an eclectic cast of characters, ranging from 20 to 70 years old. As a vital part of this cast that must live and work for a six-month period through the brutal winter, charismatic veteran brewmaster Yamamoto (65) and the brewery’s sixth-generation heir, Yasuyuki Yoshida (27), are keepers of this tradition, and are the main characters who bring the narrative forward. Currently, stiff competition and the eventual retirement of experienced workers intensify the pressure of preserving quality of taste, tradition and brand reputation for Yoshida Brewery.

As craftsmen who must dedicate their whole lives to the making of this world-class saké, their private sacrifices are often sizable and unseen.

Best Documentary Special Jury Mention - 2015 Tribeca Film Festival; Best Documentary Award - 2016 Palm Springs International Film Festival.

Post-Film Discussion and Saké Tasting!

After the screening there will be a discussion and Q&A with director Erik Shirai. Following this and thanks to the generous support of World Sake Imports there will be a light tasting of saké produced at the Yoshida Brewery featured in the film.

For this event, guests must present a valid ID to verify their age.


Erik Shirai is a NYC filmmaker working around the world on renowned documentary, TV shows and features. Erik has worked as a cameraman on the Emmy award winning TV show No Reservation with Anthony Bourdain and recently his film, The Birth of Saké, was awarded Best Documentary Director Special Jury mention at Tribeca Film Festival in 2015. In 2008, Erik launched his own production company Cebu Osani Creative as a foundation for his creative ideals, to create films that are compelling, original and visually cinematic. Erik’s main goal is to produce one-of-a-kind content with integrity and respect.

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