OTEMBA SAKE started with organising events for WAKYO (est. 2010), an organisation whose aim was to create cultural exchange between the Netherlands and Japan through music. WAKYO is an independent music label and distribution company based in Amsterdam and Tokyo. For the last 20 years while being largely involved in the music industry, we've also been managing artists and organising club events / festivals.
“WA” means Japan but it also means peace or harmony,
“KYO” means today, sound and also bridge in Japanese.
We want to connect Japan and Europe through sound, peace & harmony.
While organising several music events back in 2013, we felt that the Japanese cuisine and drinks (officially recognised as UNESCO world heritage) had to be part of these events. This proved to be a great success as good food and traditional sake brought artists, dj’s and all other participants closer together. However at the time it was very difficult to lay our hands on good bottles of authentic Japanese sake in Europe. In 2016, we decided to take action and started importing sake ourselves, which resulted in the birth of OTEMBA SAKE.
In Japan there are over 1000 breweries with more than 10.000 different varieties of sake. At OTEMBA SAKE, we do our best to make a selection of the best sake from different regions and according to different styles. Our selection consists of a good mix of traditional sake and new trends and through that, we try to find sake that can fit the taste and cuisine in Europe.
Our special focus is on (smaller, authentic) breweries that produce their rice themselves or source from local rice farmers in their region. Many of these are family breweries for many generations and have perfected the sake brewing that fits their specific region and circumstance (climate, rice type, yeast and many other factors). While keeping a balance between respecting traditions and utilising scientific progression, brewers have managed to keep up with trends and as a result, they consistently brew astonishing sake every year.
Logistics & Storage
To ensure only the best sake, our brewers have put a great deal of time and effort into their product. Therefore at OTEMBA SAKE, we do everything to keep the quality of the sake as close to how the brewers intended it to be. We make sure that the transport from the brewery to the port, across the sea (as it passes through the equator), and finally to our storage in Amsterdam is consistently refrigerated (4°C ~ 5°C), from start to end.
Here in the Netherlands, we keep all our temperature-sensitive sake (Daiginjo, Nama / Fresh, Sparkling etc.) refrigerated at all times until delivery. We would like to give a special shout out to Leave Your Sword’s Kombucha Brewery for helping us keep your sake refrigerated!
OTEMBA is a word that has been adopted in the Japanese language from the Dutch during the Edo Period (1603 ~ 1968). It comes from the Dutch word “Ontembaar” and it is used in the Japanese language to refer to rebellious, untameable girls. During this “Sakoku” (鎖国, "closed country") period, Japan was closed off from the rest of the world, and migration and trade was severely limited. The only European influence permitted was a Dutch trading post at Deshima (a small island in Nagasaki) where some Dutch merchants and researchers were allowed to stay. At this place, scientific and technical knowledge and innovations, from Europe's development at that time, was able to flow into Japan through Rangaku ("Dutch learning"). With this new knowledge, and the effective utilisation of it by the Japanese people, Japan began its rapid development and modernisation. Most of our breweries were established in this period and the sake industry also took big leaps in progression. It was a time of great, untameable cultural and culinary development, a phenomenon the sake industry wholly participated in as well.
OTEMBA SAKE's roots lies strongly in this historic relationship between the Netherlands and Japan and we aim to continue building a long, meaningful relationship by being a bridge between cultures. Sake is one of many cultural artefacts we feel deserves to be more appreciated, as its ability to bring harmony to food, experiences, as well as people is unparalleled. Therefore, we strive to start the movement of sake and ultimately share the beauty of it in the Netherlands and all of Europe.
The year 2020 has been a tough time for many, but it is also a time in which we realised just how important friends, family and the community to us are. At OTEMBA SAKE we were also forced to rethink our business and we decided that we want to grow a strong and big community. We plan to do this by organising more events and experiences, doing more collaborations with restaurants and foodies, and of course, directly providing you with meaningful experiences with our authentic sake!
So please join us and let's share some good sake!
- Yasuharu, Yuri, & Andrea