Grand Officer Maître Sommelier
" One of the developments I'm most passionate about is the rise of jizake, which translates roughly as artisanal sake "
I grew up in a standing bar, surrounded by the familiar friendly faces of our regular customers. The place was called Kaku-uchi, and it was owned and operated by our family company, Kimijma Shoten, which opened its doors in Yokohama in 1892.
I joined the company after graduating from college and spending two years in the working world. In 1993, at the age of 33, I became the fourth generation to lead the company.
I began by learning, visiting numerous sake breweries throughout Japan in order to find over 100 lesser known -- but high-quality -- brands of sake and shōchū. In 1997 I ventured to France and initiated direct imports of French wines. Our current lineup of direct imports includes wines from France, Italy, Spain, the United States, and the United Kingdom, as well as whiskies from Scotland.
The company steadily expanded, opening additional stores in Ginza (which has English-speaking staff and a tasting bar) and Ebisu Atre. In 2019 we opened the Yokohama Kimijima-ya Wine Hall, adjacent to the Yokohama main store.
One of the developments I’m most passionate about is the rise of jizake, which translates roughly as artisanal sake. Made in small batches at micro-breweries, it reflects both the region of its birth and the personality of its brewer. Jizake tends to have a more modern and distinctive taste.
I’m also heavily involved in the creation of the 3S brand. The name is an acronym of Super Shochu Spirit, and it is a vehicle for introducing Japan’s “other” white spirit to the world. We offer shochu made from sweet potatoes, or rice, or barley, or Thai rice, or brown sugar – each with a distinctive taste. Borrowing from wine, each bottle is marked with the year in which it was distilled.
Finally, I’m very active in education. Since organizing a sake seminar at the Maison de la Culture du Japon à Paris in 1998, I have been actively promoting sake in Europe and Asia. I even had the honour of teaching the basics of sake to the legendary pâtissier and chocolatier, Pierre Hermé, for a cooking magazine project.
When it’s time to blow off a little steam, I perform with my band “Mystic Waters”. That lets me combine my two favourite things: alcohol and rock ‘n roll.
Representative Director & President
Yokohama Kimijimaya Co Ltd
Roles outside of the company
- Japan Sommelier Association, Vice Chairman
- International Wine Challenge, SAKE Division Panel Chair
- Judge SSI Honorary Sake Master
- NHK Cultural Center Lecturer
- Asahi Cultural Center Lecturer
- Community Club Tamagawa Lecturer