Kaneshichi Shoten / Yusuke Sezaki's passion for bonito flakes

"Even a Katsuobushi Shops can bring Joy to people"

Kinchi Shoten _ Yusuke Sezaki Profile Image
Interviewee: Yusuke Sezaki | 瀬崎祐介

Yusuke Sezaki is the fourth-generation owner of "Kaneshichi Shoten," a renowned bonito flakes shop in Makurazaki City, Kagoshima Prefecture. He continues the tradition of making bonito flakes using one of the few remaining traditional methods.Throughout the crucial mold fermentation process, "Honkarebushi Classic Flake" was crafted while playing Mozart's classical music.This unique method of production earned the prestigious Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Award at the National Bonito Flakes Evaluation Competition in 2016.

Sezaki also engages in activities aimed at preserving and passing on the tradition of bonito flakes that has been handed down in Makurazaki.

The History of Kaneshichi Shoten and Myself

Sea scenery of Makurazaki City, Kagoshima Prefecture

Makurazaki has a history of nearly 300 years of katsuobushi culture, but Kaneshichi Shoten has only been around for about 60 years.

There are two main types of katsuobushi: rough-cut and fully dried bonito flakes. Even within fully dried bonito flakes, there are dozens of variations, and with different types of fish, they often received orders from customers for specific types.

Around 45 years ago, there were about 120 katsuobushi shops in Makurazaki, a city with a population of 30,000. With so many nearby, it was easy to learn the craft, even without prior knowledge or expertise.

At that time, they were like general stores, continuously expanding their skills and knowledge.

Kin Shoten _ Bonito making process

For me, dried bonito flakes have been something I took for granted every day since I was a child and inheriting the katsuobushi shop didn't seem particularly appealing to me.

In fact, being a bonito flake shop felt more like being a business owner than a craftsman. I couldn't see the passion behind the craft or understand the significance of the process and its meaning.

I was rebellious against my parents, schoolteachers, and classmates, and I left my hometown to dive into the world of film making, a job that makes people happy.

Katsuobushi can bring Joy to People

Kinshichi Shoten _ Bonito Manufacturing process

While saving money for my video studies by working at a stationery store, I was surprised by how delighted people were when I gave them katsuobushi sent from home. That's when I realized that even as a katsuobushi maker, I could bring joy to others.

"Why not take over the katsuobushi shop?" people would ask. That made me realize that to ordinary people, being a katsuobushi maker was something admirable. From then on, my perception of katsuobushi began to change. What seemed ordinary was actually something special.

From then on, my perspective on katsuobushi completely shifted. What seemed mundane turned out to be something special.


Facing Katsuobushi 

Kinchi Shoten _ Bonito Manufacturing process

But those first few years back home were tough. It was hard to see people's smiles, and I felt like I was just going through the motions. I questioned what I was doing a lot.

The only time I really enjoyed myself was when I was making honkarebushi (dried bonito flakes made using traditional methods). That's when I started making my own version of honkarebushi, which I called "Classical Katsuobushi." I'd play Mozart's classical music while going through all the important mold processes, and voila, Classical Katsuobushi was born.

Mozart on bonito! ? Discerning classic clause

Kinshin Shoten _ Classic Classes

At our shop, we take pride in creating bonito flakes that are not just a culinary delight but a true artisanal experience. Among our offerings, there's one that stands out particularly unique – our Classic Bushi Bonito flake.

Making bonito flakes first starts off with fileting and boiling the fresh bonito fish, removing bones one by one and smoking them repeatedly, allowing the beneficial molds to develop.

But what sets our Classic Bonito apart is the infusion of classical music throughout the entire mold application process. We believe that in the creation of the “Classic Bonito Flake”, classical Mozart music serves as a unique touch.

A sprinkle of Mozart gives the bonito flakes with high quality mold and aging process, enhancing both the complexity of flavors and the depth of character.

Listening to beautiful music while engaging with bonito flakes allows for a gentle and relaxing experience. We believe that this simple act holds significant meaning in itself.

Kinchi Shoten_ Classic Club

While our Classic Bonito represents only under 5% of our sales, we approach its production with the same dedication and passion as we do with all our products.

And this dedication doesn't go unnoticed – it permeates through our entire range, elevating the quality of our offerings as a whole.

While we primarily focus on producing traditional bonito flakes, we understand that the definition of "traditional" can vary greatly. Some are crafted by hand, while others are mass-produced by machines.

That's why, for those interested in purchasing our products, we always encourage them to visit our factory for a firsthand look at our process.

We firmly believe in transparency and honesty, which is why we openly share our approach to working with bonito flakes during these factory visits. Our hope is that by showing how we engage with our craft, others will feel inspired to support us.

The Path I was meant to Follow

Kinchi Shoten Parent and Child 4th generation

Even though we put so much effort and time into crafting our Classic Bonito, most of it is used for commercial purposes, which is why our brand may not always be easily visible.

Running a bonito flake shop with the traditional method is quite challenging. However, even if it means facing financial hurdles or swimming against the tide of modern business practices, we remain steadfast in our commitment to quality and tradition. And it's the words of my son that served as a guiding light for this conviction.

"I'm glad I was born into a bonito flake shop."

This was a moment when I felt proud of all my actions and realized that this was the path I was meant to follow.

Thanks to the support of those who resonate with our vision, we've been able to meet individuals who share our passion for preserving and promoting the art of bonito flakes. Our goal is not just to sell bonito flakes but to leave a legacy, to ensure that this traditional craft is celebrated and cherished for generations to come.


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