Demystifying sake: a look inside Japan's artisanal breweries

Comparatively little is known about sake outside of Japan, which is why authors Hayato Hishinuma and Elliot Faber travelled around 75 of the country's artisanal breweries to find out more. They discovered a craft as deeply rooted in tradition as it is in its sense of people and place

Demystifying sake. Photography by Jason M. Lang

With interest in food and drink, how it's made and where it comes from at an all time high, it stands to reason we're choosing to learn more about things that wouldn't have necessarily crossed our paths all that often before.

Case in point is sake, a product steeped in Japanese culture and history, intrinsically linked to the landscape and people who make it, about which comparatively little is known outside Japan. Sake: The History, Stories and Craft of Japan's Artisanal Breweries documents producers all the way from the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido to Okinawa, the southern-most prefecture, providing a window into the world of Japanese rice wine.

Authors Hayato Hishinuma and Elliot Faber have compiled a 420-page compendium including interviews with owners and master brewers, and profiles of 75 breweries – from water source to ageing process and rice variety used – all of which is evocatively illustrated by arresting photography from travel photographer Jason M. Lang. These photographs, taken from the book, reveal a craft deeply rooted in its sense of place and tradition.

Sake: The History, Stories and Craft of Japan's Artisanal Breweries, by Hayato Hishinuma, Elliot Faber and Jason M. Lang. Published by Gatehouse Publishing, £75.