Home RunWritten by Zachariah Smookler
Endorsed by Major League Baseball superstar Shohei Ohtani of Oshu, Japan, the Oshu-No-Ryo Junmai Daiginjo is Iwate Meiji’s limited-edition brew that pays homage both to the record-setting MVP and Japan’s special relationship with baseball. Full bodied and thick, this sake bursts with vibrant fruity notes of citrus, apple and banana and is best served chilled. Easy to drink and the perfect beverage to pair with traditional baseball fare like hot dogs, pizza and nachos, the Oshu-No-Ryo is designed for gameday.
Introduced to the Japanese in the late 1800’s, baseball has quickly ascended to Japan’s most popular spectator and participatory sport. Much like Major League Baseball in America, Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) represents Japan’s highest level of the sport, and consists of two leagues, the Central League and the Pacific League, each carrying six teams. Unlike baseball here in the United States, corporations with affairs outside of baseball own most of the teams. Historically, these teams have been recognized through the names of their owners and not where the team is based, however due to changes in recent years the majority of the twelve teams now carry both corporate and geographical location names. Just like the NCAA football and basketball programs we all know and love, high school baseball has a strong national following (equal to or even greater than professional baseball) and its season culminates in a nationally televised tournament featuring the regional champions from each of Japan’s 47 prefectures.
Japan’s love for baseball stretches far beyond the professional ranks, and this can be seen through many different ways. For starters, the atmosphere at baseball games mimics a college sporting environment or a soccer match where the fans are dancing singing and cheering. Above everything, the Japanese way of life has infiltrated essentially every facet of the sport. An emphasis on group identity, hard work and respect for age perfectly symbolizes a group of people who hold the very same values to such a high degree. Japanese baseball megastars like Shohei Ohtani, Ichiro Suzuki, and Hideki Matsui all found their roots in the NPB before striking gold overseas in America, each with a cult following that would be unheard of for an athlete in the United States.
This limited edition Junmai Daiginjo comes in a red bottle, the color of Ohtani’s Los Angeles Angels and features a stunning red label which depicts a samurai-like figure throwing a baseball. Whether you’re a fan of the sport or not, Japan’s relationship with baseball is fascinating, and seeing one of the sport’s largest superstars partner with his hometown sake brewery makes for the perfect feel-good story.