At Harris Bricken, we keep close tabs on what is happening around the world, and we know that our friends and clients do, as well. We are happy to provide this podcast series: Global Law and Business, hosted by international attorneys Fred Rocafort and Jonathan Bench, where we look at the world by talking with business leaders, innovators, service providers, manufacturers, and government leaders around the world.

In Episode #84, we are joined by Weston Konishi, President of the Sake Brewers Association of North America (SBANA). We discuss:

We’ll see you next week for another exciting and informative episode when we sit down with Elena Sychenko, from Saint Petersburg State University in Russia!

This podcast audio has been transcribed by an automatic transcriber.

Fred Rocafort  00:07

Global Law and global business go hand in hand, but never seem to keep pace with each other. The importance on the global stage of developing and developed nations waxes and wanes, while consumption and interconnectedness steadily increase all the while laws and regulations change incessantly requiring businesses to stay nimble. But how do we make sense of it all? Welcome to Global Law and Business hosted by Harris Bricken International Business attorneys. I’m Fred Rocafort.


Jonathan Bench  00:37

And I’m Jonathan Bench. Every week, we take a targeted look at legal and economic developments in locales around the world as we try to decipher global trends in law and business with the help of international experts. We cover continents, countries, regimes, governance, finance, legal developments, and whatever is trending on Twitter. We covered the important the seemingly unimportant, the relatively simple and the complex.


Fred Rocafort  01:02

We hope you enjoyed today’s podcast. please connect with us on social media to comment and suggest future topics and guests.


Jonathan Bench  01:21

Today we are joined by Weston Konishi, president of the Saki Brewers Association of North America. He has over 20 years of experience in the field of US Japan relations with a focus on the political and diplomatic ties between the two nations Western Welcome to Harris Bricken Global Law and Business.


Weston Konishi  01:37

Thank you so much, Jonathan,


Jonathan Bench  01:39

we would love to hear you tell us a little more about your background, fascinating background, including a little bit about how you ended up in Japan, and how you developed an interest in soccer.


Weston Konishi  01:49

Sure. So to take it all the way back, I’m of Japanese heritage, I’m half Japanese on my dad’s side, but was born and raised in New York City, and spent most of my life here in the States, but then went to the University of Colorado where I studied Japan studies for a couple of years. And as you may know, or may imagine, learning and studying Japanese in Boulder, Colorado is kind of a difficult thing to do with all the distractions of skiing and whatnot there. So I decided to actually visit Japan for the first time, after two years at CU and long story short, I wound up essentially staying in Japan. And that turned into seven years, living in Japan, first teaching English and in Tokyo, but then eventually transferring to a school called ICU in the outskirts of Tokyo International Christian University, which has a very robust liberal arts international focus to its curriculum. So I did that and finished my undergraduate degree there and then and then got a scholarship to do my graduate studies there. So after two more years, in graduate school, I came back to the states and wanted to apply my experience living and studying in Japan to work in the US Japan relationship. And so I went to Washington, DC, and started looking for work and eventually got a job at the Marine and Mike Mansfield Foundation, which is named after the former ambassador and Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield, he was the longest serving ambassador to Japan, he was nominated by President Carter and then was kept on as Ambassador by President Reagan. So that really got me into the field of US, Japan and US Asia relations. And I’ve more or less been in that ever since.


Jonathan Bench  04:01

Weston, you’ve got heritage in your family, you spent many years in Japan, my focus has always been on China. And so that’s where my my first exposure to Asia came. So I’m curious for you as as a somewhat insider, can you tell us a little more about Japanese culture? Those of us who didn’t grow up in it haven’t been around a lot of Japanese people. Can you tell us a little more about what what you think makes the culture unique? what makes people tick, you know, maybe from your own family experiences or otherwise?


Weston Konishi  04:28

Hmm, that’s a biggie. You know, when I first went to Japan, I really didn’t know what to expect. And I’d heard horror stories about how other Japanese Americans were treated in Japan that they weren’t really accepted. And in my personal experience, I found the exact opposite. I found Japanese to be extremely warm and welcoming to me and really interested in my American, you know, my heritage is American as well. So I thought it was a really great place to live. I think that it’s a very rich culture, obviously, with lots of traditions. But it has this kind of paradox of also being very modern in a lot of ways. And so I think those two dynamics of the traditional Japanese culture and modernity, are constantly on display, and are really a part of, of Japanese culture today. So it’s an interesting place to live. And I think it’s really a fascinating place for for people to visit, if they want to see a culture that’s really rich and dynamic. And, but with fantastic people, and it just translates into so many different dimensions of, of society, their culinary arts, tourist destinations, you name it. So it’s, I really, always like to talk about how fascinating Japan is to visit.


Fred Rocafort  06:02

Weston I have to agree with, with your assessment, obviously, my my own experience with Japan is is much more more limited. But I’ve had the opportunity to visit a few times, during the time when I was living in in China had the opportunity to, to visit and travel around the country, and I think you really hit the nail on the head, it’s that combination of tradition, and this long history, on display, but at the same time, it’s such a modern advanced country in so many ways, you know, you have that juxtaposition of the the traditional architecture and this respect for the ways of the of the past, but at the same time, you you have excellent high speed trains, you have the you know, I never I always think of the the vending machines, you know, that you can get a a warm can of coffee, just the perfect temperature, you know, out of out of a vending machine and things of that sort. So I find that to be a fantastic destination, and also just a very interesting country, from from all all angles. But turning to do your work at the at the Mansfield Foundation, to what extent is the foundation also involved with with countries other than Japan? And what what perspectives do you have on that? I mean, obviously, when, when we talk about Asia, we’re really talking about a part of the world that is, is extremely diverse. And when you think of our relationship, both politically and at a personal level, right at a more, you know, people to people level, there’s some big differences between, say, the US relationship with with Japan, and, and, for example, China. So I wonder if, if you’re also doing work involving other countries in the region, such as such as China, but perhaps others as well?


Weston Konishi  08:10

Yeah, I mean, the the Mansfield foundation really focuses on Northeast Asia as a whole, with a particular emphasis on on Japan. And given my background and my deep, deep background in Japan, I tend to be, I tend to do more Japan related issues. But you know, with the rise of China’s as, as a great power, obviously, we’ve had to focus a lot more on China. And we also have to also cover the Korean peninsula and the sort of the developments that have gone on there over the years. And, and so when I first started at the Mansfield foundation, I again sort of focus mostly on Japan, but over over time have branched out to do to cover the rest of the region. And and it has changed quite significantly since I first started, which is like it’s in the late 90s, when when I first came to town. It was basically the tail end of the trade wars with Japan, that were really clouding the the overall bilateral relationship and sort of midway through the Clinton administration, there was of course correction in the bilateral relationship. And both sides agreed to focus more on their commonalities rather than their differences. And so there was a greater emphasis on the on the bilateral US Japan alliance at the time, and it’s been sort of that way ever since. But Japan at that point was sort of, you know, for a long time, perceived as a as an economic threat to the United States. And I think what we’ve seen in subsequent years is the rise of China as as a economic rival and now more as a strategic rivals. Japan has again sort of proven itself as a close friend and ally of the United States. So, you know, when I look back the last 20 plus years of my career, I certainly see a shift, you know, how the United States perceives the the region and our policies that go into sort of coping with the rise of China and, and other threats and issues? So quite a bit changed.


Jonathan Bench  10:25

And do you see any challenges that remain? You said, We’re strategic competitors, right? We’re certainly not US China relationship is nowhere near what it is with us, Japan. Do you see any, any hurdles? Are there any significant issues that remain between US and Japan at this point, from, from a political standpoint?


Weston Konishi  10:47

Well, I think that, you know, there, there’s always going to be, you know, areas where there are certain disagreements, but for the most part, Tokyo and Washington really see eye to eye on the big issues of the day, whether it’s climate change, or dealing with rising China, more assertive China. And so I think, I think we’re in a period now. And it’s been this way for, for several years in which the US Japan relationship is pretty much operating on the same page. So I don’t really see, you know, any, any imminent storm clouds as it pertains to the US Japan relationship. I do think that the Trump years, the Trump administration presented a unique challenge to the alliance. President Trump, you know, had this America First policy and was much more transactional toward Japan and other allies. But that was somehow managed pretty well, I think, by former Prime Minister Ave, who I think may made great efforts to kind of placate Trump, and to make sure that the bilateral relationship remained strong and healthy. So I think luckily, President Biden has has inherited a pretty stable bilateral relationship with Japan. So I’m, I don’t, I don’t see any other major issues coming in, in the future between the two countries, although, you know, they’re, of course, you know, struggling with with coming up with an adequate strategy for for dealing with China, one that, you know, I think mitigates against certain, more hostile steps that China can take in the South and East China Seas, and elsewhere, but also remain, you know, maintain economic ties that I think are so important that between Japan and China, so there are very, very complex issues left to be sure.


Jonathan Bench  13:04

So lets turn to the question of US, Japan, business community relationships. Can you talk a little bit about at a high level, you know, country to country facilitation, but also at the deeper level, you know, your your in to business associations, you know, how these work back and forth? Can you talk a little bit about how business communities are tied together in meaningful ways that matter for businesses in both countries?


Weston Konishi  13:25

Yeah, I mean, I have to admit, I’m looking at this from the perch of being in the nonprofit sphere. So I’ve haven’t been a businessman per se myself, but certainly have been involved in the community, the both business communities. And it’s really remarkable, because, you know, as I said, when I first started out in this field, there was this contentious relationship between the Japanese and American, corporate and business worlds. And I think over time, that’s really changed significantly. You know, there, there was this episode, during the 70s and 80s, of so called Japan bashing. There were nasty scenes of American auto workers, taking sledgehammers and destroying theaters and other Japanese manufactured cars. And certainly those days are long behind us. And now you have companies like like Honda that are essentially American companies. And so there’s remarkable integration between the two economies, and a lot of cooperation. What I do see like the American market is so important, the export market for Japan. What I have seen, though, is a little less interest in American companies. You know, putting up shop in Japan, of course, there are some notable exceptions, but you know, there there was a time when when American companies were really lobbying to try to get had more market access in Japan. And that was another sort of source of contention between the two countries. And I think over time, you know, American companies have looked elsewhere to, to set up shop, most notably, obviously, China. But so in other words, I think the Japanese market has, for a lot of industries not been as hot a market for American companies as it as it was in the past. But certainly there there are standouts, and you know, I think they’re the bedrock of the of the US Japan commercial relationship for sure.


Jonathan Bench  15:42

So let’s turn to a little bit about how the recent change in Japanese Prime Ministers may impact the business or even the political relationship. Now, at the time of this recording, Fumio Kishida has been elected for maybe two days. Yoshida suka lasted about a year, Shinzo Ave was in for quite a long time compared to say the last 20 years worth of prime ministers as I was, I was beefing up and looking at them, it’s it looks like it’s pretty common for Japanese Prime Ministers to serve for only a year or two and then be replaced. And that seems like quite high turnover. So I’m curious if you have any thoughts on how the Prime Minister really sets the tone for the US Japan relationship and and really Japan with the greater Asia region and the rest of the world too. Can you talk just kind of in broad strokes about the Prime Minister’s role and what you think Fumio Kishida might bring or continue from his predecessors?


Weston Konishi  16:39

Yeah, well, you know, I Kishida Prime Minister Kishida comes from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, which is more or less rule Japan ever since the end of the Second World War, with a notable exception in the two or three years when the Democratic Party in Japan ruled Japan in the 2010s. So the LDP is well versed in managing the US Japan relationship and Kishi comes from, certainly from that more conservative right of center tradition of LDP politicians that emphasize the strength of the US Japan alliance and economic relationships. So I see probably continuity between former Prime Minister Tsuga and now Prime Minister Kishida. I do teach you that has a kind of reputation as being a bit hawkish. And, you know, I certainly will be looking to see how he looks at the relationship with China, which as I said, is extremely complex. And, you know, to see whether Kishida makes any dramatic changes to Japan security policy. But again, I do see continuity there. And the Japanese Prime Minister, you know, over the years, the Prime Ministership has grown in power and influence. Over the years and certainly under Ave, there was a great emphasis on empowering the prime minister over the government and the ministries and so we’ll see whether Kishida continues along that path, or whether he’ll revert to the traditional approaches where Burke Kratz had a great deal of sway over policymaking. So we’ll see what kind of personality Kishida is whether he is able to maintain his popularity with the Japanese voters, he was not as popular as his political rival in this last party election, as as former foreign minister kono Tato. But he enjoyed a lot more intra party support amongst amongst the LDP members. And I think that’s what brought him into power. Come around. So we’ll see whether he’s able to maintain that support within the party, which is something that Tsuga very quickly lost.


Fred Rocafort  19:23

Awesome. I just want to touch briefly on something you you mentioned, right, the fact that Japan has, in essence, been a almost exclusively a one party state for the entire post war period. And of course, there are significant massive differences between Japan and true one party states. It’s still interesting and of course, in a democratic context, it is possible of course, when people are given the choice to vote right I mean, this can be an outcome this this kind of continuity can be the The natural result there there isn’t necessarily anything problematic about it right? As long as as long as it it’s a reflection of what, what people want. Could you talk to this a little bit more?


Weston Konishi  20:12

Well, I think that there are times when Japanese voters dissatisfaction with the LDP flares up and and the party is at risk of losing its dominance over the Japanese political system. But timing again, we see the LDP clawing its way back into power. And it’s able to do that often with forming coalition’s with with other smaller parties that are sometimes diametrically opposed to the LDP ideologically. And so, the LDP just has this remarkable ability to be flexible, and to remain a kind of big tent for a lot of Japanese voters. Who I think you know, obviously there there are many voters who are poor left of center, but I think most mainstream Japanese tend to be right of center a bit and so the LDP is an attractive party for a lot of people, and particularly those voters who are in rural areas where agriculture industry is protected by the LDP and has very strong roots with the party. So there are a lot of there is, I think, general support for the LDP that has persisted for all this time. But you do see time, you know, occasions when Japanese voters are dissatisfied, some, you know, there’ll be a scandal or a policy fumble of some sort, I think Tsuga succumb to maybe some mismanaging of the COVID crisis. And this insistence on moving forward with the very unpopular Tokyo Olympics earlier this summer. These were so sort of the kind of things that I think really irritated voters, and that’s when they demanded change. But it wasn’t the kind of wholesale change that, you know, triggered a change in the leadership of the country other than the prime minister, who again, came up through the LDP system. So, on the whole, I think Japanese voters are a bit risk averse of a bit wary of opposition parties, which continue to be rather fragmented and unable to really position themselves as viable alternative to the LDP when it comes to being the ruling party of Japan. So I think that’s, that’s been a dynamic, for better or worse for Japanese domestic politics for a long time. And I don’t see much possible of that changing anytime soon.


Fred Rocafort  22:54

So let’s turn our attention to to sakeI. Really looking forward to this part of the conversation just as I have looked forward to to this podcast. So let’s start by having you tell us about how you developed your appreciation for first hockey and what motivated you to to try to expand the footprint of soccer in our country.


Weston Konishi  23:16

Right. So my real exposure to soccer began when I lived in Japan as an exchange student and I drink a lot of junky soccer at the time because I was a poor student. But there was one night and this is I think every soccer lover has a particular story about how they first fell in love with soccer. And it’s always a kind of memorable moment. But for me, there was a there was a one night when I was a graduate student in Tokyo. And there was a this huge snowstorm that hit Tokyo and it basically paralyze the city, but I had dinner plans that night with some friends. And so we’re we decided on this rendezvous point and we try to stick with our original plans of meeting there and so we somehow were able to use the public transportation to get to this place. And it was just one of those gorgeous snow covered scenes of of the Japanese urban scape. It was it was just this gorgeous scene of the snow and the restaurant in which was warm and comforting. And so we all gathered there and they served this socket over this fantastic seafood meal that we’re having really wonderful food. But they served the sock a from Fukui Prefecture called Coco to you and it was filled and it was just absolutely delicious and I that was my falling in love was sock a moment I just completely fell head over heels in love with, with really premium sock which I’d had for the first time at that, at that point, I really took notice of premium sock a. And then that became koku became my sort of go to sock after that. And whenever people would want to give me a birthday present, they’d always give me a bottle of soccer. And so I had this appreciation for soccer that I brought back to the United States, of course, it was a bit difficult to find really high quality soccer for a long time in the American market. And most of what was sold in the 90s and 2000s, early 2000s, were not very high quality sockies it was you could go to some certain restaurants in LA in New York and get high quality spot gay, but for the most part, it wasn’t very available. But over time, we’ve seen more of an influx of premium sockets from Japan. So that’s pretty wonderful for me. But I took a course in 2014 with with John Gartner, who is a noted sock expert, American sock expert, based in Japan. And he did a sock IT professionals course in San Francisco in 2014, which I took with no real expectation that I would get into the sock industry in any way. I just did it more to learn more about this thing I was so passionate about. And it was fantastic course and I learned a lot, but didn’t really as I say get into the industry at all. Until last year, when I was introduced to a guy named Bernie Baskin, who was an expat in Singapore and published a book on soccer when he was there, and then came back to the states and met up with the brewer in Charlottesville, Virginia of soccer. And the two of them realize that there was no real sock aid Association in North America. So they decided to start one up in 2019. But Bernie had a number of personal and professional commitments that he had to take care of. And so he wasn’t able to maintain his leadership of the association. And so I was looking to pass it on to somebody else. And I got introduced to him at that point. And kind of the rest is history I took over earlier this year as president of the association.


Jonathan Bench  27:21

And so what kind of activities are you doing? I know COVID It’s been a rough year, but what are your goals? Leaving the organization? Who’s involved? What kind of responses have you gotten them curious now, since you’re such a new organization, but you’re obviously very passionate about what you’re doing.


Weston Konishi  27:38

So we have three main pillars of our mission. One is to educate consumers about soccer, and to increase their knowledge of soccer. The other is to help soccer brewers in North America and we really represent brewers from Mexico to Canada, but we want to help them grow their operations and make sure that they’re, you know, they have ready access to ingredients and equipment and all of that. And then we have a third component, which which you could call a lobbying component, which is advocating for the soccer industry to make sure that there’s favorable regulations at every level, from the Federal to the local level for growth of the industry. So those are three main pillars of our mission. And we do a number of different activities. We hold webinars and seminars with soccer brewers, we got a contract with the Embassy of Japan in Washington to do a series of webinars earlier this year on soccer, including one that was a dialogue between Japanese brewers and American brewers that I think was the first of its kind event and really fascinating to compare for brewers on both sides to compare notes and talk about their craft. We also produced a short animated video on soccer that describes the story of an American first experiencing sock aid, falling in love with it and then deciding to brew sock a for himself. So we thought that that would be a really fun and interesting way engaging way to to explain what it’s like to follow a sock and to produce sock. So what we’re trying to do more and more of his develop a set of policy recommendations that we will try to advocate for visa V. The federal and state and local governments to again try to make sure that SOC A is properly regulated, regulated and in a way that leads to greater growth of the industry. And as for the people that are involved in the association, we there are roughly Two dozen breweries across North America. And we represent now, almost all of them and, and that number is growing. So we’re more excited to see the growth of socket brewers. In Canada, Mexico, the United States. And they tend to be, you know, a lot of our of our associate members are people that come into sock aid from the beer brewing world. And they see sock A is a next level of brewing that they can engage in. So that’s one thing and then and then they’re just people that had SOC at one point and fell in love with it and wanted to make it on their own. So those tend to be the types of people that start up their own breweries, and then join our association.


Fred Rocafort  30:50

What’s that, I’m glad you brought up beer, because I spent more than 10 years living living overseas and in Asia, from 2005 to 2018, I have to be honest, during my trips back to, to the US there was, there was very little that I could point two as progress. But one of the things that I did notice an improvement in was the quality of not just beer, but other alcoholic beverages as well, when I would come over on visits, I noticed more and more craft beers, especially in the northwest, but but also elsewhere. And that was a something positive to to be able to have these, these these options, and I enjoyed it, then I enjoy enjoy it now. And that was one area where especially in the context of beer, that the it took a while for the places in Asia where I was living in visiting to, to really get on that on that track. So so that was one thing that that I did enjoy about my my visits here, you know, being able to try new beers really fascinating to see the the levels of experimentation that that were taking place. And it’s it’s not only not only beer, I remember a couple of years ago going to a vodka distillery in California, and their setup was really nice, you know, just the location was great. And the you could go and have have a tasting and then the products were also very, very good, both in terms of their quality, but also the the creativity, right? I mean, they’re they’re taking this this product and exploring the the bounds of what you can do with it. So can you place what’s happening with Saki? And that in that context? I mean, is do you see a general trend, where we are seeing more people get into this general industry of taking existing beverages, but trying to tweak them and domesticate them to to a certain extent and explore the possibilities of what you can do with them?


Weston Konishi  33:08

Oh, absolutely. I think I would be disingenuous, if I didn’t admit that, to some degree, the sock aid, the craft sock, a brewing industry here is riding on the coattails of what the craft beer industry has done. You know, we’re catering to, to clientele who are interested in new things, new products that may be based on more traditional math methodologies and traditional products. And the American craft brewers are experimenting with Sokhi with different styles and different methodologies that simply, you know, are almost unthinkable in Japan. And so it’s very exciting to be a part of this more this very creative movement of the craft sakeI. Industry here. But for sure, I think that you know, it. Craft SOC is something that I think appeals to people who consumers who are interested in trying something that’s, that’s new, yet somewhat, you know, that that’s refined, and that does come from a long history and traditions. So there are a lot of similarities, I think, between the craft sock and the craft beer worlds. But I think the craft beer folks sort of paved the way for what’s happening now a sock A.


Jonathan Bench  34:44

So I’d like to hear a little more about John Gartner. He’s touted as the leading non Japanese Saki evangelist in the world. So when you took his class, what did you you said you went in kind of just open you know, blank slate looking to learn. What did you learn from him? Did you did you gain some passion from him and what what was it like to rub shoulders with someone at that level?


Weston Konishi  35:06

Oh, it was phenomenal. It was one of the best courses that I’ve ever taken. He has an encyclopedic knowledge of sockeye, born from years of experience living in tasting Sockeye in in Japan. And his course was, was great, because it was, I believe, was a three day course. And he would alternate between lecture and tasting. And so he would lecture on some aspect of soccer. And then we would break and have a tasting of soccer samples that would illustrate what he had just talked about in his lectures. So, for instance, he talked about the different kinds of rice varietals that are in Japan that go into soccer production, and then he and then he would provide samples of these sockets, so that we could taste the differences in, in the sockets based on the different Rice’s or you know, where they were, they’re produced regionally different kinds of waters, waters, that that are available in Japan, and how that goes into socket making. So all of these things, or made the whole course very rich. And he, again, he says, it’s a very good teacher, and just has a very deep knowledge of socket, he, you know, I was bombarded with questions from me and my peers. And he, he could answer pretty much all of them. He just knows the industry, so well. So it was great to study under him. And I’m happy to see that a lot that his courses continue to be very popular and, and, you know, it’s getting more and more students and former students out there in the world. So it’s great to see.


Fred Rocafort  36:56

Well, Western, it’s been a real pleasure, I have to say, as I mentioned earlier, I was really looking forward to the podcast, I just love the entire concept. And on the one hand, of course, we can all appreciate the value of seeing products in their, in the environment where, where they develop enjoying that authenticity, I’m just fascinated by entrepreneurs who are trying to adapt existing forms to new environments, and great to see it happening with sakeI. I’ve really enjoyed this this conversation. Unfortunately, we have to wrap up. Before we sign off, I’d like to ask you for any any recommendations that that you have for for our listeners. It doesn’t have to be soccer related. It could be anything that you’ve read or watched. That said, to the extent that you’re able to provide a drinking recommendation,


Weston Konishi  37:48

Right. Well, I’ll start with a soccer recommendation. And the good the good news is that as I said, there’s more and more high quality soccer available in the global market and also in the United States. And you know, I live in Baltimore and my neighborhood wine and liquor shop sells a sock a called not to die, which is a really good sock, it comes in a silver can. And when I first saw it on the shelf, I was just blown away that it was even there that they were selling it. But it’s it’s an excellent sakeI. There’s also companies like das Sai, which are really trying to expand in the international market. And they have a growing footprint here in the United States. But I think if you’re in any major American city, you can find a high quality sock is a lot of the Whole Foods stores are selling really good sock is including a lot of our domestic brewers and I would keep a lookout for domestic brewers. And again, they’re all over the country now from the west coast, the East Coast, the South and the Midwest. And they’re they’re really producing really exceptional SOC A’s and I, I think it’s just so fantastic to come across this quintessentially Japanese beverage that is being brewed by Americans. It’s just a really awesome thing to experience and try for yourself. So keep your eyes open for that. And, you know, I’m I think we’re gonna see more and more domestic producers in the coming years. So I’m happy to report on that as for kind of resources, you know, I’m kind of a visual guy and so I recommend two films on sakeI. Two documentaries, one is produced actually by John Gardner and that’s caused by for the level of SOC a and it’s just a fascinating story about several different brewers in Japan including one expat British Breuer in Japan and just you know their passion for soccer A and for soccer making that really comes across in the film. And it’s it’s a very moving documentary and I highly recommend it’s a gorgeous gorgeously filmed, movie. And then. And then the birth of soccer is another documentary that follows the sort of life cycle of a traditional Japanese soccer brewery. And you get to see, you know, how hard it is to make soccer, and the dedication, the level of dedication that it takes to produce it, which is really extraordinary. And so it’s just a, it’s, it’s a really interesting insight into how traditional brewery functions and makes make sock. And so I highly recommend both of those films. They’re both available on Amazon so anyone can can watch them. But I think I think once you see these films you’ll you’ll get a sense of, of how wonderful Sakai is and why so many people are so in love with it.


Fred Rocafort  41:10

Thank you for those recommendations. As I listened to you, I was looking online to see where where I could where I could get my my socket. So thank you for that. Jonathan, what what do you have for us this week?


Jonathan Bench  41:26

This is a kind of scary recommendation, but it goes along with our topics. So this is an article from NPR about a recent attack by a guy so here’s the here’s the here’s the title of the article, a ninja with a sword, a sailed a US Army Special Operations Unit in California, right? I mean, the title was so outlandish that I had to read the article. It was on a listserv, national security listserv that I’m on. And I don’t mean to make light of the situation. But it just was so outlandish. I was like, Well, what what is what is happening? And so this, this guy who’s dressed up like a ninja with a, with a real ninja sword walks up to a special operations guy on presumably a secure base area. And, and says to him, Do you know who I am? And the guy’s response? No. And he says, Do you know where my family is? And the guy says, No. And then the guy with a sword just starts slashing at him. And he’s, and he makes his way to a different part of the compound. He throws a rock through a window and hits a guy in the head. I mean, I want to the video game fiend in me says this guy’s pretty accurate and realistic kind of ninja. Okay, if he can, he can get away slashing and hit someone in the head throwing a rock through a window. That’s, that’s a pretty accurate ninja training right there. But at the same time, it’s just kind of totally bizarre these these guys didn’t fight back, the Special Forces didn’t fight back. I don’t know about the rules of engagement in this kind of situation. But it was just weird enough that I had to click on it. It wasn’t clickbait it was a real story. Certainly as is the kind of thing you probably read about only once in once in a long while. So that’s my recommendation. It’s an NPR article called a ninja with a sword a sale the US Army Special Operations Unit in California. Fred, what do you have for us?


Fred Rocafort  43:10

So before the podcast, we were making small talk, and I mentioned a movie. And I got the full name for it. And it’s going to be my recommendation for this week. And that’s searching for sugar man. In a nutshell, this is the story of how a minor to put it politely artists from Detroit, Detroit, I believe became a massive hit in South Africa during the apartheid era. Part of what makes the story fun and special is the fact that people in South Africa had no idea that this guy was a an unknown in in the United States, they just assumed that he was a very successful star because of because of his popularity in South Africa. And the story is about how these fans of his set out to find out the the whole story it’s a great movie, you know, has a documentary really has a lot of things about it that are that are interesting. You know, there’s there’s the parts that were filmed in South Africa and gives you that window into what South Africa was like. I mean, this was not that long ago, right? And South Africa was a largely isolated country. And there’s a heartwarming element to how this person who was a musician but never really made it ended up finding out that he was a hit in Africa. So So searching for Sugarman. That’s my that’s my recommendation for this week. So on that note, once again, Western I’d like to thank you for for coming on the podcast. Thank you for the for the recommendations.


Weston Konishi  44:51

Absolutely. And thank you both for hosting me today. It’s been a blast and also should say that, for those of you who We’re interested in learning more about soccer, please visit our website www dot Soccer Association dot o RG. We’ve got a wealth of information there and you can learn more about soccer brewing in North America. Thanks so much.


Jonathan Bench  45:15

Global lawn business is a production of Harris Bricken. The team includes Madeline Williams and Makayla Moore. The music is composed by Steven Schmidt. If you like the show, subscribe on iTunes and leave us a review there. We’d like to hear what you think of the show and it helps new listeners find us. Tune in next week for another episode. We’ll see you then.