Our site uses cookies and other technologies to give you the best possible experience. By using this site you are consenting to their use and accept our policies. Learn more...


Series Information

Shochu is one of Japan's most popular alcoholic beverages. It is a distilled spirits that can be enjoyed before, during, and after meals. Dora Tauzin, from France, reports on a popular type called Honkaku Shochu: its ingredients, distilling method, and history. The program also features Ryukyu Awamori, a beverage from Okinawa said to be Japan's oldest distilled spirits. In addition, Shochu advisor Kaori Haishi introduces recipes of dishes that go well with shochu.

Short movies

Reporter's Eye by Dora Tauzin

Journal of Production

What is Honkaku Shochu and Awamori?

Like whiskey, brandy, and vodka, Japanese Shochu is a distilled spirit. In particular, Honkaku Shochu and Awamori are made from a variety of ingredients including rice, barley, and sweet potato, grown in Japan's rich and varied climate, carefully fermented and distilled in Japan.
They have earned the appellation "KOKUSHU: national alcoholic spirit" because they embody the essence of Japan. Their distinctive deliciousness ensures their enduring popularity in Japan.

It is said that alcoholic spirits were first distilled by ancient Arabic alchemists in their search for the spirit of eternal youth.

When the skills of distillation then spread all over the world, regional spirits such as whiskey, brandy, rum, vodka and SHOCHU were born. The term 'alembic', which refers to the distillation process they all share, harks back to those early Arabic alchemists.

Shochu's origins are unclear, though it is probable that it started in Persia and then spread via China and South-East Asia, arriving in Japan around the 15th century, where the distillation of this unique clear liquor was adapted using local creative techniques.

The Chinese characters for Shochu literally mean "burnt liquor". This word first appeared in Japanese documents around 500 years ago.

Long before the arrival of the alembic distillation process in Japan, the Japanese were brewing Sake, which was the nation's major alcoholic beverage. This is made from rice saccharified by koji (fermenting agent) and fermented using yeast.?

Honkaku Shochu is in legal terms a "single distilled Shochu". It is produced in a "single distillation still" from the moromi broth made in Sake production.

This classic traditional single distillation method ensures rich authentic and natural flavours are preserved.

Japanese Alcoholic Beverages (and Related Products)
Category Example
Brewed Japanese Sake, Beer, Wine
Distilled Honkaku Shochu & Awamori, Whiskey, Brandy, Vodka, Gin, Rum
Mixed Liquor, Mirin

Alcoholic beverages (and related products) can be roughly categorised into three groups: brewed, distilled and mixed. Honkaku Shochu and Awamori are distilled alcohol beverages.

Distilled alcohol beverages can be categorised by ingredients
Material Example
Fruit Brandy (Cognac, Marc, Grappa, etc)
Grain Honkaku Shochu & Awamori, Whiskey, Gin, Vodka, etc
Sugar Cane Kokuto Shochu, Rum, etc
Tubers Imo Shochu
Others Akvavit,Tequila, other spirits

Please abide by your country/region's law for alcohol drinking.
The consumption of alcoholic beverages is forbidden for persons under the age of 20 (minors) under Japanese law.

Our Series

Trailblazers We follow Japan’s trailblazers breaking new ground in various fields and discover the purpose that keeps them moving forward.
Catch Japan Explore a colorful variety of modern Japan’s most popular topics, including food, technology, ecology and regional promotions, with a focus on the innovative ideas and passionate effort from the people behind it all.
J-Entertainment Infotainment show featuring young artists full of talent with their unique sense of “Japan.”
Explore Japan This series will feature how various culture in modern Japan and overseas blend together and influence each other.
SPIRIT OF JAPAN The program introduces the history and wisdom behind Japan’s technological strength and specialties, which are helping to revitalize regional areas of the country.
At One with Nature – National Parks of Japan In this series, we’ll visit national parks in Japan to meet the people that call them home, enjoy seasonal views that have inspired artists and writers for centuries, and explore their landmarks.
*Available in English original broadcast version, and Chinese/Korean/French/Japanese-subtitled versions.
Exploring the Indigenous Ainu Culture This series will highlight Ainu dance, modern art, crafts, and culture that has made its way overseas, as well as explore the Upopoy National Ainu Museum and Park that opened in 2020.
Check Other Series