When Philip Harper came to Japan from the UK in 1988, he had no idea that, 20 years later, he would be the first and only foreign toji, or head brewer, at a sake maker in Kyoto the Mainichi Daily News reported on 5 March.
The traditional toji system is ‘‘a peculiar subculture’’ and it fascinated him. He passed the toji test in 2001. Sake has since carved out a niche for itself in bars and restaurants around the world, and the number of fans is increasing.
Harper spends most of his time at the brewery, especially during the winter months when, as the master of a team of brewers, he usually starts his day steaming rice at 8am. Harper sees no let-up in his passion to promote sake: ‘‘I’m always keen to talk to people about sake and write and speak about it… and I’m willing to continue doing that.”