If you have been to Japan, you might have tried Saki(Sake-Japanese rice wine). Beer is famous, you may heard the brand name, Suntory, Asahi (Asahi Super Dry is quite popular), or Kirin, but wine or whisky?
You may think there is no Japanese whisky, but we do have Japanese whisky.
Nikka is the company which made first Japanese whisky.
The founder of Nikka is Masataka Taketsuru.(Please see `The founder' of the above website).
From last week, NHK started a new drama serial, based on their true story. The title of the drama is `Massan'. Massan is a nickname of Masaharu(Masataka), the hero of this drama. Actually the story is about this couple(Masataka and Rita---in the drama theri names are Masaharu and Ellie) who achieved their dream of making Japanese whisky.
In 1918, Masaharu went to Scottland to learn how to make whisky and met Ellie. It was Taisho period when Japan was eager to adopt Western culture. Masaharu was a son of sake brewr but there was this new tide taking new culture, he left Japan alone, and went to the University of Glasgow and studied the art of making whisky. Two years later, he came back to Japan together with Ellie.
This is the first time, the heroine is a woman from abroad. The NHK morning drama always had stories of woman's dramatic life - the heroine of the last drama was Hanako Muraoka, who was a writer and a translater of `Anne of Green Gables'. This time, Charotte Kay Fox , an actress from US, plays Ellie who came to Japan as a wife of Massan and after many years of effort, they have succeeded to make whisky in Hokkaido. Whisky-making was not easy, and also the whisky they made was not sold at first. They had this dream of making Japanese whisky, they devoted their lives until the whisky has been accepted by Japanese.
Actually Nikka whisky won many awards and known widely ( we hope some of you know Nikka whisky!) with the good quality.
The original real story of this couple is so touching and the heroine (actress from US) seems to be having a lot of attention. It is the first time for her to work in Japan, learning Japanese, and new culture....she is just like Rita who came to Japan with Massan.
Everything must have looked different for her. The heroine, Charotte Kay Fox is so fresh, full of life and charming. We all cannot help becoming a fan of her! Rita tried very hard to be a member of the family, tried Japanese cooking and worked really hard. During WWII, she has been suspected as a spy. Massan's mother did not accept her as a wife of her son. She overcame each difficulties with her guts and the strong bond with Massan. Their love and trust made it possible to make first Japanese whisky. I was not going to but just by watching the short preview, I could not help crying!
Here is the true story:
Here is the NHK website of this drama. Please try the top titles. The second one from the right has short video of the actor(Massan, Tetsuji Tamayama and Ellie, Charotte Kay Fox, she has been chosen as a heroine by audition. Her grandmother is from Scottland). You can hear her message in English.