Moon Stories

Moon Media Launches Second Feature Film: KINMI Sake


After a successful launch of Moon Media’s first feature film, "Kamiyama: The Little Town With Big Ideas", comes its second story, "KINMI: Brewing the Future of Sake." Different from "Kamiyama," which focused on the revitalization of an aging town, "KINMI" puts the traditional Japanese industry of sake brewing in the limelight and highlights how the brand is bringing new brewing methods to an industry that hasn’t changed much over the years. Stories like these are often tucked within Japan, but Moon Media knows that these stories could both inform and inspire people on a global scale.  

The Kamiyama and KINMI films both aspire to tell compelling stories of people and places that meet at the intersection of creativity and entrepreneurship within Japan. There’s no better person to tell us more about Moon Media’s second film than the executive producer and Moon’s Chief Creative Officer, Mike Peng. 


How did you identify the story of KINMI sake? What made you decide that this story, in particular, should be shared on a global scale? 

Mike Peng: I met Nao Kohara when I first moved to Tokyo in 2011. He was still working at a venture capital firm then and I remember talking to him about his love for sake. It was only a few years later when I learned that he had left his job to start a new sake brand! In fact, I remember I used to go to the Farmer’s Market over the weekend to visit his booth.

I knew that one day, I wanted to tell the story of Nao and KINMI. First of all, for someone like Nao — an incredibly successful Japanese business person who graduated from Tokyo University and Stanford Business School — to quit his job and pursue his passion was incredibly rare, especially in Japan. Not to mention, creating a new sake brand in an industry that’s steeped in traditions must have been really tough.

How did he do it? Why did he do it? How was KINMI going to be different? What was he trying to achieve?

I felt that trying to uncover the answer to these questions could inspire many people around the world looking to start something new. 


What did you learn while making this film? 

While filming "KINMI," I was really struck by how deep the relationships were between Nao, the sake breweries, the brew masters, the rice farmers, the local fisheries, the restaurants, and everyone else within the ecosystem. There was a sense of shared purpose and camaraderie — we all care so much about what we do and we want to create the best product or experience that we can. That pride in the craft is something that I feel is harder and harder to find these days in business, and it was so palpable while making this film. 


Is there a particular moment or idea that resonated with you when filming "KINMI"? I’m sure you have great behind-the-scenes stories too! 

I don’t know if it’s one singular moment, but throughout the filming, I kept thinking to myself, “Wow, everything needs to be so precise!” To make unpasteurized or unfiltered sake is no small task. Everything needs to be done at the right “fill in the blank” — the right temperature, the right humidity, the right timing, etc. And if it’s not, the sake will not live up to its full potential. As with many behind-the-scenes videos, your appreciation and understanding for the craft definitely elevates all aspects of the final product.


If you could have a conversation with someone who watches the film for the very first time, what would you want to discuss with them?

Even though Moon Media has only created two films so far, I’m already starting to see some common themes that really excite and interest me. In both the Kamiyama and KINMI films, I feel that there’s another way to do business — it doesn’t have to be just for money and it doesn’t have to just be “do good” charity work. There exists a “third way” where there’s harmony in profit and purpose, leadership and community, business and creativity, humanity and nature. Although I’m sure this exists all around the world, I find that there’s a higher percentage of this happening in Japan. I’m hoping that these stories can not only inspire the rest of the world, but also spark a conversation on how we might do this in our own parts of the world. 


What action do you want the audience to take after watching "KINMI"? 

From an organizational perspective, I hope that people and businesses will really think deeply about what their purpose is in the world (beyond making money) and how they can collaborate more with other parties who share that same purpose.

From a personal perspective, I know that entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone, but I hope that everyone spends at least some time in their life thinking about what new value they can create in the world that is purposeful and brings joy to their life. 

"I hope that everyone spends at least some time in their life thinking about what new value they can create in the world that is purposeful and brings joy to their life."

What’s next for Moon Media? Do you have any updates about "Kamiyama"? Is there another film in the works? 

I’m excited to share that we submitted "Kamiyama" to several film festivals and it was the Official Selection to many of them including: The Hollywood Shortsfest, the San Jose International Film Festival, Documentary Without Borders, and the San Francisco Short Film Festival!

We have several ideas for future films and are beginning the planning process for them. As of now, we’ve focused a lot on the intersection of business x creativity x Japan, but we also want to add “sustainability” to that intersection and have a few stories that we think will be incredibly inspiring! 


We hope that our second Moon Media film, "KINMI: Brewing the Future of Sake," inspires you as much as it did the Moon team. Continue to share the gift of storytelling and inspiration within Japan with your friends and family, too. We hope you all enjoy it!

Watch "KINMI: Brewing the Future of Sake" here. 

*Editor’s note: 
One of the regions featured in "KINMI" is Noto, a small coastal town located on a peninsula projecting north into the Sea of Japan. At the heart of Noto lies its well-known fisheries and fishing villages, which are so significant that Nao partnered with the region’s oldest fish market to create a box set including KINMI’s Noto sake. The film credits Japan’s unique regions for “creating” its own sake, with food and environment contributing to the sake’s flavor. Noto is a perfect example of that as the community’s livelihood, culture, and most integral product is weaved into its distinctive sake.

Sadly, the Noto Peninsula has been heavily impacted by the multiple earthquakes that occurred in early January. It is one of the worst affected areas and much of it has been destroyed. To show your support for the Noto communities, please consider donating to the Japanese Red Cross Society or Ishikawa Prefecture’s official website to help with relief efforts.    

Moon Media is a division of Moon Creative Lab Inc., a venture studio that powers the creation of new businesses for Mitsui & Co., Ltd. and beyond.

Moon Media was created to help showcase inspiring stories of people and places that fall at the intersection of creativity x entrepreneurship within Japan. We know that many of these inspiring stories exist throughout Japan, but they are often difficult to find and hard to access. Our goal is to uncover these hidden gems so that we all can nourish our creative souls and begin turning inspiration into innovation.

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