From soy sauce to miso to sake to shochu, these iconic Japanese foods and drinks are all made possible with the help of a mighty microorganism commonly known as “koji.” What exactly is koji and how did koji come to play such an important role in Japanese fermentation? In this second part of our Healthy Hakko series, we talk to Dr. Stephen Lyman (shochu ambassador) and Dr. Victoria Lee (historian, Ohio University) about the history of fermented Japanese drinks, the tireless little worker that is koji, on-going scientific endeavours to identify and categorize different kinds of fermentation microbes, and much more.
- This talk is a pre-recorded event. Register below to receive a private link to view the talk during the event dates.
Dr. Stephen Lyman is a clinical epidemiologist affiliated with Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City, but in some circles, he is better known as the first shochu and awamori ambassador officially recognized by the Japanese government. A leading American expert on shochu, Dr. Lyman has spent time working in both sake breweries and shochu distilleries. Aside from being a medical educator and entrepreneur, Dr. Lyman is also an author. His book, The Complete Guide to Japanese Drinks, was nominated for the 2020 James Beard Award. Today, Dr. Lyman resides in Fukuoka, Japan.
Dr. Victoria Lee received her Ph.D and MA in History from Princeton University, and her M.Sc. in History of Science from the University of London. Dr. Lee was a Japan Foundation Fellow from 2010-2011, after which time she carried out research as a postdoctoral fellow at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin. She has taught at Rutgers University and is an assistant professor of History at Ohio University. She is currently a Fellow at the the Institut d’études avancées de Paris. Dr. Lee is the author of The Arts of the Microbial World: Fermentation Science in Twentieth-Century Japan, forthcoming from the University of Chicago Press in fall 2021.
HEALTHY HAKKO Talks and Discussions
HEALTHY HAKKO Documentary Films
Jan. 15-17 > Dashi, Essence of Japan & Shoyu, the Secrets of Japanese Cuisine Directed by Shohei Shibata
Jan. 22-24 > The Genealogy of Sake Directed by Kaori Ishii
Jan. 29-31 > Katsuo-Bushi Directed by Yu Nakajima
Jan. 29-31 > Fermented Directed by Jonathan Cianfrani