A world within a cup

What is the Philosophy of Sake” about?

We can ask many questions about the nature of, and relationships between beverage, ingredients, production, locality, flavor and experience and judgment thereof. Indeed, there is a rising interest in those questions and everywhere in the philosophy world we find conferences, workshops and symposia about wine, beer, and whisky. So why not a conference on the philosophy of sake?

Sake’s history in Japan traces back to time immemorial. We have a privileged position here in Akita to organize a conference on sake with access to producers and experts of sake. Such a conference can not only contribute to multiple central debates that are currently in the limelight of contemporary philosophy but also acknowledge the tradition, craft and aesthetics unique to Japan. It relates international aspects of academic philosophy with local context and culture.

In general, the topic relates to a broad number of issues, for example:

  • aesthetics/metaphysics/ontology/ethics/temporality epistemology…. of gustatory experiences
  • relation between cognitive judgments and perceptual experience
  • value and taste judgements

Here are some example questions that are relevant:

  • How cognitive are our experiences of sake?
  • Does a good assessment require specialist knowledge of the tradition, craft and aesthetics of sake in order to arrive at a correct verdict?
  • Can the language used to describe sake increase our enjoyment of it?
  • Can the label, the shape, colour and weight of the bottle affect our experience of it?
  • Should sake be regarded as an aesthetic object and tasting it an aesthetic practice, i.e. one where we reflect upon aesthetic properties of it?
  • Do we always get it right in taste judgments? Or could we like sake that are (objectively) bad and dislike ones that are (objectively) good?
  • What is meant by a ‘good sake’? Does every good sake have to be appreciated or can an experienced taster assess its qualities without enjoying it?

A brewer from Aramasa brewing, Mr. Yoshitaka Fukumoto, will be joining us for this 1st International Workshop on the Philosophy of Sake. The Aramasa brewery is one of Japan’s most famous sake breweries and has made headlines in Japan by combining ancient tradition and cultural heritage with truly innovative new techniques and flavours, particularly with it’s extremely popular sake “No.6.” Have a look at it here: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/life/2018/01/20/food/sake-company-aramasa-shuzo-seeks-new-edge-techno-partnership/#.XeyJuOtS_x4

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Workshop POSTER--1st International Workshop on the Philosophy of Sake


This workshop has been made possible thanks to the support of Akita International University’s Institute for Asian Studies and Regional Collaboration.

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This workshop is also in collaboration with

Culinary Mind—Centre for the Philosophy of Food