Sake connects us all -

our feelings, our inner selves, our emotions


Otokoyama Honten has been brewing local sake since its establishment in 1912, using its local resources blessed by the climate of Kesennuma and the connections between people and nature, as well as the connection among the people. President Sugawara does not only manage Otokoyama Honten, but is also the head of the local chamber of commerce, and plays the role of advisor for more than ten local organizations. Brewing Master Kashiwa, who is in charge of the production process, quality controls, never goes through the motion during the technical checks. Instead, he watches, listens, smells, touches and even showers love during the checks as if he is bringing up a child. Our designers, Giang from Vietnam and Hezin from Republic of Korea, came together and brainstormed on communication design ideas so as to communicate the allures of Otokoyama Honten and Kesennuma to people outside Japan.






Actually, there are more than ten sake breweries with the name “Otokoyama” in Japan. However, the name “Otokoyama” actually originated from Kyoto, and so they decided to focus on communicating the brand of Kesennuma instead of the generic “Otokoyama”. For this purpose, they came up with the brand “Sotenden” 15 years ago.

Sotenden: The Legend of Blue Sky and Sea, was created as the perfect sake that complements bonito fish (katsuo), which is a popular local catch in Kesennuma.



実は、男山という名前の酒蔵は全国に10個以上存在します。また創業当時からラベルある京都の地名伏見があるため、気仙沼地元のお酒と伝える必要性を感じ、 15年前より“蒼天伝”をブランド名にしました。

蒼天伝: THE LEGEND OF BLUE SKY AND SEA、“気仙沼のカツオ(9月がシーズン)に合うお酒”という思いで作られたお酒です。

Before the Great East Japan Earthquake, the office and shop of Otokoyama Honten were located near the ferry port, but they were devastated by the tsunami, leaving only the third floor of the building. It is, however, due for reconstruction.

Fortunately, the factory was not terribly affected, and they resumed operations the day after the disaster and soon became a symbol of recovery and hope for Kesennuma. Otokoyama Honten’s brand continued to be the beacon of hope as it united the locals together as the products became the perfect exemplification of President Sugawara’s hard work.





On the day of homestay, we had local cuisines, such as the seasonal bonito fish, together with Sotenden at a local Izakaya. President Sugawara’s presence, popularity and passion were apparent as we witnessed how every single customer in the Izakaya greeted him. His contributions to the region must have touched the hearts of all the locals.

The designers had a hard time understanding the complicated sake production process, but we had a great time experiencing the human connections and human-nature connections that were created magically by the sake. We also had hands-on experience on sake production, which felt like we were creating an art masterpiece. Each challenging experience gave us further insights and ideas on how we could tweak the communication design for business expansion overseas.





Giang suggested a change in Otokoyama’s brand design in terms of its logo and labels, as brought up earlier as a problem originally faced by Otokoyama due to the common use of the name “Otokoyama” in Japan. Furthermore, he also came up with the idea of a mobile app that conveys its premium sake to other countries, and Sake Wikipedia that compiles recommendations of food that complements the sake.



Giangは現在男山本店が抱えている課題、“気仙沼の男山本店ブランディング”、ロゴ、ラベルでのブランドコミュニケーションを提案。また”プレミアム酒を海外へ”伝えるためのアプリの提案、酒ウィキペディア、 味、料理に合った酒の提案。

Hezin, on the other hand, focused on Otokoyama Honten as the beacon of hope of Kesennuma and expressed it through art design. She used graphic design with themes such as mountains, seas, humans and miracles, and combined them to produce sake bottles, boxes, cards, T-shirts and event themes.




After listening to the designers’ prsentations, Otokoyama Honten gave us the following comments:

“The presentations were honestly, absolutely amazing.

Giang’s design idea using rice was interesting and provoked some inspirations.

Hezin’s design was puzzling at first but after listening to her explanation we were convinced by her message.

We are truly inspired and motivated by them, and we will always remember how they had interpreted Kesennuma’s mountains, seas, people and magic.

We also had a new realization: Sake connects us all, our feelings, our inner selves, our emotions.”









“Sake connects us all- our feelings, our inner selves, our emotions”

I strongly believe that Kesennuma and Otokoyama Honten will open our doors to the world and connect ourselves with the people around the world, in the near future.





< Report:Mikiharu Yabe(矢部 幹治)>



Rikuzentakata City Hall

Otokoyama Honten

Saikichi Shoten




Ellie See

Giang Nguyen

Hezin O

Motoki Koitabashi

Pat Laddaphan

Rege Indrastudianto

Russell Vergara

Ryan Len

Hezin's Presentation

Giang's Presentation

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