Interview: Kazuo Matsuura, Honke Matsuura Brewery

With Kazuo Matsuura and Narutotai

Honke Matsuura Brewery makes the famous Narutotai brand sake. When I recently met the brewery President, Dr. Kazuo Matsuura, he kindly agreed to answer some questions about his sake, his brewery and his native Tokushima. Narutotai is wildly popular in the United States and I wanted to learn more…

Timothy Sullivan: What is the significance of red snapper “tai” fish to your brewery?

Kazuo Matsuura: Naruto City, Tokushima Prefecture is famous for its sea of Naruto Strait Whirlpools. And a sea bream (we call it TAI in Japanese) which grow up in strong whirlpools is very popular as a delicious fish. We hope to brew special sake that goes well with sea bream dishes. That is the origin of our brand name NARUTOTAI.

Narutotai Ginjo Nama Genshu

Timothy Sullivan: Your Narutotai Ginjo Nama Genshu is unique in so many ways – and a very popular sake with Americans: Unique bottle, richness, flavor, strength – what are your comments on this sake?

Kazuo Matsuura: I think this sake is clear and strong taste and Americans can enjoy its taste.

Timothy Sullivan: How do you balance tradition VS technology in your brewery? what role does each play in your sake brewing process?

Kazuo Matsuura: I believe that tradition and new technology will never conflict. My father’s policy is “温故知新(Onko-Chishin)” ; that is the Analects of Confucius. It means to adopt advanced technology into old tradition. And my management policy is “抜苦与楽(Bakku-Yoraku)”: it comes from the teachings of Buddhism. It means to eliminate the suffering of the mind and give pleasure. I want to produce sake that makes many people being happy. Therefore, I think if our brewing technology will contribute to customer’s enjoyment, those will never conflict.

Narutotai Junmai Ginjo Yamahai Genshu

Timothy Sullivan: Your Brewery is located in Tokushima prefecture. What is special from Tokushima that influences your sake? Water? Rice? Climate? food?

Kazuo Matsuura: In particular Climate and food I think. Tokushima’s food culture prefers relatively strong and sweet taste from the past. I think Narutotai’s sake has been made to go well with such a food culture.

Timothy Sullivan: What are your hopes for the sake market in the United States? Sake have a happy future here in the USA?

Kazuo Matsuura: I hope American people will understand the enchantment of sake more and enjoy sake. Today, I have just heard that “Umami (Flavor)” of sake goes
better with fish dishes than that of wine physically.

Timothy Sullivan: What is your message to American consumers enjoying your sake? What would you like American drinkers of Narutotai to know about your brewery and Brand?

Kazuo Matsuura: Sake is part of Japanese culture. If you will understand our culture including sake and food, you can enjoy more and more. We appreciate with your patronage NARUTOTAI. We hope American drinker will have a happy time with our sake.

Timothy Sullivan: Mastuura-san, I’m sure American Drinkers will have a happy time with your sake indeed! It’s delicious! thank you!