The Present - Part 4 - What happens next?
The best way to determine the current or present condition of the industry is to speak to the makers directly. Most brewery owners will admit that the future scares them as global economies raise the scepter of consumers not buying the luxury goods; or massive fuel hikes directly affecting the cost of their raw materials, which they cannot pass on to their customers. Added to this scenario of raised production costs is the very real and potentially deadly manpower depletion situation. One cannot become rich making sake. It is a simple fact. So many of the younger generation heed the call of the big cities to go make a living in ways other than in the backbreaking process of brewing sake.
Sake’s history is so very solid and robust – truly one of the greatest alcohol histories known to mankind. That glorious momentum of the heyday has slowly been ebbed away to the point that sake has lost its importance in the culture that made it great. Today it’s a smack in the face to sake makers having to fight in order to earn their keep. There is no longer a sense of national pride in purchasing sake and it’s no longer the only belle at the ball. Thus, these modern times can be considered sake’s fork in the road – the proverbial new beginning (or beginning of the end) to a beverage that is as synonymous to Japan as beer is to Germany and wine to France – the only problem is that the Germans are still drinking their beer and the French of course are doing the same.