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shochu boom in Japan

Covid-19 are changing our alcohol market. So this time, I will tell you about the past shochu boom.

Shochu has been produced in Japan since the 1500s and has a history of being loved by everyone.
It is said that there were more than 3000 shochu makers in Japan around 1900, and the government started to organize the makers, and the surviving makers compete with each other in producing traditional techniques.

As for the famous boom of shochu,

①First shochu boom in the late 1970s

At the time, the Satsuma Shuzo , which was famous for its “Shiranami,” aired commercials using the catch phrases “6: 4 (Roku Yon) Hot Water Splitting” and “Yoizame-sawayaka(next morning is so refreshing ),” and the name “Shiranami” became known all over Japan, which triggered the boom.

②The second shochu boom in the early 1980s

As chu-hi quickly became popular, consumption of korui-shochu(so many times distillations type) increased dramatically and led the entire shochu industry. On the other hand, it was also around this time that the image of shochu as cheap alcohol for young people became widespread.

At that time, “Iichiko”, the representative brand of barley shochu which was the center of shochu group Otsu market, became famous with the catchphrase “Shitamachi no Napoleon(It tastes like Napoleon, but the price is reasonable.)” and sold out one after another in the market.

③Shochu boom in 2003

Then came the sweet-potato shochu boom. In the shochu market where barley was the main stream until then, sweet potato shochu took over the market at once.

In addition, TV and magazines featured a lot about the “health” of authentic shochu, spurring a surge in the number of consumers who switched their regular alcohol to shochu.

In 2004, there was a phenomenon that the supply of Shochu couldn’t keep up. The reason for this was thought to be the characteristic of sweet-potato shochu production, which can only be produced in autumn, when sweet potatoes are harvested, and the poor harvest of sweet potatoes due to the cold summer and lack of sunlight in 2003 of the previous year.

Many shochu maker had a strong desire to “I want to make this shochu popular, not just temporarily.” and made various efforts such as close discussions with local farmers and contractors, expansion of facilities, and expansion of cropping areas.

※picture from Satsuma-syuzo instagram

Shochu changed its trend from Kourui Shochu to Honkaku Mugi Shochu to Honkaku Imo Shochu, and became popular on our dining tables. Since the boom of real shochu in 2003, shochu has entered a diverse era, including the polarization between low-priced and high-quality products and the expansion of the market for packs and pet containers. Now that the boom has settled, low-alcohol shochu has emerged as a suggestion for new shochu users. An increasing number of shochu makers are proposing “ease of drinking” to women and young people who cannot drink shochu, but at the same time showing their individuality by the degree of alcohol they drink.

Recently, it is often seen that shochu maker pour water from the existing shochu of 25 degrees and admire the shochu of 12 ~ 13 degrees.

“Non-alcoholic shochu,” which has the taste of shochu, is also on the market.

Now some of shochu maker is making ‘shochu-high-ball -can – type’ for new market!

Vibes Point

Depending on the boom of Shochu and the historical background, the way of drinking, brands and scenes have changed.
In recent years, the market has changed drastically due to the covid-19, forcing people in Japan to drink at home, and as a result, the market for paper-packed shochu has become very big.

Paper pack Shochu is cheaper than general Shochu because of the cost of transportation, the difficulty of cracking, and the price of materials. It doesn’t break even if you put it at home, so it is often put at home. That demand seems to have increased further.
In the SDGS world, the demand for paper packs may be reevaluate