Collins to work toward increasing visitation to Arkansas by groups and promoting the state's appeal
Bell, who works from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. with five brewers, now understands most of the Japanese used at work. But he always carries a smartphone and a notebook in his apron pockets to jot down jargon.
The second floor of the brewery is used to grow "koji" mold and the inside temperature is kept at above 30 degrees.
The hardest part of his work is the mixing process in a huge vat. Bell said he often ends the day with sore arm muscles after using a 2.5-meter-long wooden paddle that weighs 2 kilograms to do the job.
His brewery, which produces the Nanbu Bijin brand of sake, currently exports to 24 countries, and the United States is its largest importer.
Kosuke Kuji, the 42-year-old president of Nanbu Bijin, said consumption of Japanese sake will likely boom in the United States if producers use local rice and water to keep prices low. It will then create a market for quality sake from Japan, he said.
Describing Bell as studious with genuine enthusiasm, Kuji said, “We have been looking for someone like him.”
According to the Nanbu Toji association, which promotes sake-making techniques in Hanamaki, Bell would possibly be the first foreign trainee to manufacture sake in his home country after learning local brewing techniques.
Bell said he wants to produce rice wine with the same quality as in Iwate Prefecture so that people associate Arkansas with Japanese sake.