Japan's Unlikely Sake Brewer

The Los Angeles Times has a neat article on British born Philip Harper, the only non -Japanese sake brewer to achieve the status of toji, or master brewer, in Japan.

They call him "the sake savant," but that doesn't bother Philip Harper, a 42-year-old native of another rugged coastline, thousands of miles away: Cornwall, in southwest England.

For 18 years, this unlikely foreigner has stubbornly endured both hard labor and silent resistance, studying Japanese and the brewing craft until he was eventually accepted -- and celebrated -- by even the most traditional brewers.

In sake-drinking circles across Japan and abroad, Harper is considered a cross-cultural pioneer: the only non-Japanese sake-maker to rise to the rank of toji, or master brewer. This "miracle" of the conservative world of Japanese brewing has people scratching their heads that a foreigner has emerged as the boss of a factory floor.

"Philip loves sake, but he also loves Japanese traditional culture," says Hiroshi Ujita, a Kyoto brewery owner. "His character is almost Japanese. He understands the Japanese way of thinking, our style of daily life. You can taste it in his sake."


From the Upcoming ueue, submitted by Geekazoid.

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