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Wednesday, 1st July 2015
In General Japan News,

Smartphone app in development to help English speakers understand sake labels

Drinking local alcoholic beverages is something of a traditional for British holidaymakers abroad, but it is not always clear exactly what is being quaffed.

All that is about to change in Japan, as the country's trade ministry is developing a smartphone app to help English speakers decipher sake bottles.

When it is completed, users will be able to scan the barcodes on bottles of the ubiquitous beverage and be presented with various pieces of information.

These are set to include the alcohol content, a background on the brewery where it was made and the best ways to enjoy the drink.

The app will be developed in conjunction with Takakuwa Art Printing, which is responsible for producing 70 per cent of the labels that appear on sake bottles in Japan.

With somewhere in the region of 1,700 to 1,900 sake breweries in the country, that is a lot of different bottles and labels to design.

Since it was founded in 1912, Takakuwa Art Publishing has designed more than 100,000 labels for sake brands, with some of them being incredibly beautiful and detailed.

A spokesman for the company told Japan Real Time: "The technique that goes into designing the label on sake starts with finding the right paper for the bottle."

He went on to say that while a bottle of sake should never be fully judged by its label, the design should help to hint at the flavour inside.

For this reason, the designers do everything they can to understand and visualise the contents, including tasting it as part of the process.

The first incarnation of the new app to decipher sake labels is expected to be released in October, offering visitors the chance to understand more about the beverage that is so popular throughout the country.

Sake is a type of rice wine that is brewed to convert the starch into sugars, which are in turn transformed into alcohol.

Related news stories:
English zones to be introduced across Japan (29th August 2014)
Japanese employees offered financial incentive to learn English (15th January 2013)
New app helps Tokyo subway navigation (1st July 2014)
Plans for tourist Wi-Fi unveiled (17th June 2014)
Japanese technology fair highlights smartphone capability (2nd October 2012)