10-Year-Old Kogoma Niikura is Japan's Youngest Credentialed Sake Expert

July 17, 2011

Most 10-year-olds are content with age-appropriate activities like sports or video games, but Kogoma Niikura is busy taking exams to become a sake expert. Niikura recently passed her official test with the Sake Service Institute of Japan, making her a certified specialist.

Interestingly, Kogoma Niikura hasn't had a sip of sake in her life -- she's well below Japan's legal drinking age of 20. She uses her sense of smell and encyclopedic knowledge of sake production and history to make informed recommendations.

"I'm doing this because I think people in their 20s don't drink sake that often anymore," said Kogoma's mother Goma Niikura, who owns a sake bar. "If that's so, I want to train the sense of smell in children from a very young age, and have them take action to have people know more about sake, and have more opportunities to drink sake where they live." See a Reuters video of Japan's youngest sake expert below:

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Jules's picture

I understand the concept of keeping culture alive, however, I do not think training a 10 year old in the art of sake but who must yet wait 10 years to even try sipping it is practical? Comparable might be training a 10 year old in the ways producing fine Cuban cigars? How could you appreciate the subtle taste nuances without being able to sample it?