In the same way that Japanese art and designer Yayoi Kusama’s lively and asymmetrical cooperation with Louis Vuitton is theatrically being noticed in cities worldwide, Japan’s drinks and food rituals are also making an impact across the globe. It was reported that the New York Times recently looked at the rising popularity of Greenpoint in Brooklyn as the brand-new Little Tokyo of New York, focusing on the surge of Japanese businesses in the past few years. This includes Japanese cafes and shops Acre, tea salon Kettl and Sake Shop Bin Bin Sake, and grocery store Mitsuki Japanese Market. This Japanese food and drink expansion is visible all over Europe and in other markets across Asia, mainly because of the Japanese government’s goal to dramatically boost the country’s exports of drinks and food in the coming decade. Following ten years of unprecedented growth, the government plans to increase the value of Japan’s exports of food by five times over the next 11 years, between 2019 and 2030. from Y=912.1 billion annually to a total of 5 trillion dollars.

Certain businesses and brands offer elements of Japanese cuisine and culture that are already well-known to international customers. In contrast, others focus on bringing largely unexplored traditions into the Western world. For instance, Dashi Okume in New York is a restaurant specializing in dashi, the traditional Japanese soup made of dried mushrooms, fish, and seaweed. A soba restaurant made from buckwheat is scheduled to be opened at Greenpoint in the next few months. The most intriguing Japanese export story revolves around one of the most well-known items, Sake. It is mainly due to the lower consumption of alcohol by Japan’s aging population, which is driven by the younger generation who are more inclined to drink Western-style beverages; Japanese sake sales have decreased significantly over the past 50 years. Sake production in Sake for the Japanese market has declined by 75 percent since the 1970s, as per the Brewers Association of Japan, which also found an increase of 30% in domestic demand over the past decade.

IWA Sake photos are @ Nao TSUDA

This has led to the need for a growing export market for Sake, and Japanese brewery owners have recently been reimagining the sake drink to appeal to international markets, especially China and the US, in addition to the EU. In the domestic market in Japan, Sake is seen as a drink for middle-aged men, and its image is marred by inferior products that are believed to contain additives and often cause hangovers. The result has led sake companies to completely reinvent the product’s image and positioning to be more appealing to the tastes and lifestyles of young, wealthy Westerners. One way to do this is through integrating Sake with the food lifestyles. It is believed that the Western lifestyle, which usually includes fattier, more prosperous, and dairy-based foods compared to Japan, is thought to be the best food pairing, which is why sake companies and restaurants are taking advantage of this to make Sake appear a top choice.


Sakes that are lighter and fruity are also being developed to appeal to people from all over the world. They usually borrow from fine wine’s design and language rules, and even new ones are being developed that incorporate winemaking expertise into the making process. For instance, IWA Sake was created by a former chef of the cave of Dom Perignon Champagne, Richard Geoffroy, and Heavensake is jointly owned by French and Japanese and was founded by an ex-head winemaker of the Piper Heidsieck Champagne house, Regis Camus. Heavensake is sugar-free, additive-free, and gluten-free and was created in Japan with the slogan “Japanese excellence, French taste.” Regis Camus tells Wunderman Thompson Intelligence that this approach to blending might be the secret to success globally. He explained: “HEAVENSAKE was the first to introduce its art of Assemblage (blending) into Sake in order to create fruity and smooth flavors that can be adaptable to Western tastes. Regarding marketing, our method is to showcase the various ways in the time you can drink HeavinessAKE, from business meals and even Burning Man.”

If it’s sticking to the tradition or blending Japanese tradition with Western tastes, The Japanese culinary explosion will continue throughout the decade.