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  • Writer's pictureBy The Financial District

Japan Sake Maker Uses QR Codes To Protect 300-Year-Old Taste

A sake maker in southwest Japan has incorporated Internet of Things (IoT) technology in its production of "koji" molds -- said to be at the heart of the traditional alcoholic drink's taste, Junko Adachi reported for Mainichi Japan.

Photo Insert: Takahashi Shouten is a sake maker in the Fukuoka Prefecture city of Yame with a history of more than 300 years.

Takahashi Shouten, a sake maker in the Fukuoka Prefecture city of Yame with a history of more than 300 years, keeps the "koji muro" room for making koji humid, with a temperature of over 30 degrees Celsius. In the room were boxes made of Japanese cedar containing steamed rice covered with koji mold.

On the sides of the wooden boxes piled in stacks of eight were QR codes -- an unfamiliar sight for a sake brewery.

Takahashi Shouten has implemented the Internet of Things (IoT) in its traditional koji-making process. Managing the humidity and temperature is key to the successful growth of koji molds. Workers moved the boxes' positions every few hours and adjusted temperatures carefully while observing the state of the fungi reproduction.

However, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Takahashi Shouten turned to an alternative way to train potential successors. In 2021, it developed original technology utilizing thermometers and QR codes attached to each wooden box.

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By scanning the QR codes, all the workers are now able to move the boxes to their appropriate positions while checking temperatures on a computer screen.

"I'd like to protect the tradition of koji making, and preserve an unchanged taste and scent for later generations," said Takahashi Shouten's 48-year-old president, Takuya Nakagawa, who has set his sights on opening up the future of Japanese sake with modern technology.

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