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  • Writer's pictureMax Sinsheimer

SOLD! Rice, Water, Earth (by Nancy Matsumoto and Michael Tremblay)

Updated: Mar 31, 2020

Photo © Irwin Wong

I am delighted to announce the sale of Rice, Water, Earth, by Nancy Matsumoto and Michael Tremblay, to Terri Jadick at Tuttle Publishing.

Rice, Water, Earth is a rice-paddy-to-glass journey through one year of sake brewing in Japan. It opens with the authors planting sake-grade rice in a muddy field in Yokawa, Hyogo Prefecture, and closes in an izakaya (traditional Japanese pub) with the authors tasting sake brewed from the very rice they helped plant. In between readers travel from snowbound Tohoku in the north to hot and humid Kyushu in the south, from the centuries-old breweries where sake is made, to the farms where sake rice is grown, to the hidden specialty bars where it is sipped and savored. Rice, Water, Earth will be illustrated throughout with intimate portraits of shokunin (artisans) and breweries, shot by a Japanese photographer. Nancy and Michael's travels—to 33 sake breweries—reveal the tectonic shifts that are taking place in the sake world. The old master brewer guild system, where local farmer-brewers rose to powerful positions in regional nodes of brewing expertise, is transforming into one in which the presidents of breweries and master brewers are increasingly one and the same person. Women toji (master brewers) are increasingly common as labor shortages, an aging brewery workforce, and improved facility conditions have put women in important sake-making roles. And, while the Japanese increasingly drink wine and whiskey, worldwide sake exports have grown by ten percent annually for the past fifteen years. Sake, an ancient beverage, is rapidly becoming one of Japan's most important cultural exports.

Nancy Matsumoto is a Toronto- and New York-based writer and editor who covers food,

agriculture and the environment for publications including The Wall Street Journal, NPR, and Civil Eats. As a certified advanced sake professional and third-generation Japanese American with Japanese language skills, Nancy travels to Japan frequently to report on sake, food, and

agriculture. A 2018 Stone Barns Exchange Fellow, she also traveled across the country to select Canada’s top ten new restaurants for 2019 for Air Canada’s enRoute magazine.

Michael Tremblay is a global leader in sake and wine education. In addition to being a certified sake instructor for the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET), he is a senior sake judge for the International Wine Challenge (IWC), the largest sake competition in the world. In September 2018 he was inducted into the select group of “Sake Samurai,” an honor bestowed by the Japan Sake Brewers Association at a ceremony in Kyoto’s sacred Matsuo Taisha, a 1,300-year-old shrine to sake. Sake Samurai are chosen for their deep familiarity with sake culture and their local beverage markets, and for their work as educators and ambassadors for sake. I take great pleasure, and get great storytelling mileage, out of representing a Sake Samurai.

Sometimes deals come together quickly. For various reasons, that was not the case here. I'm proud of Michael and Nancy for sticking with it, and glad that we found a publisher that specializes in Asian food and drink culture. And, now that the Tokyo Olympics have been delayed, I am excited to see Rice, Water, Earth publish next year, when interest in Japanese cuisine and culture should be especially high!

Here is the Publishers Marketplace deal memo:

Congrats to Nancy, Michael, and Terri!

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