Board game about running a Japanese sake brewery is seeking crowdfunding

Original Japanese text written by. Ryuki Ishii
Translated by. Nick Mosier

Chidoriashi, a bar operator in Japan, has started a crowdfunding campaign for a board game about running a sake brewery called Kurasaku. Sake is an alcoholic beverage made from fermented rice.

Kurasaku is a competitive board game where each player runs a sake brewery. With limited resources such as funds and personnel, players will need to secure their ingredients, invest in equipment, brew their sake, and sell it to run their business.

While monitoring other players and market demands, you might try mass production at low prices, or you can shoot for a come-from-behind victory by brewing and selling a finely aged and more expensive product. The game boasts the players can learn about brewing and the business while they play. Kurasaku is meant for 2 to 5 players and takes roughly 90 minutes to play.

Chidoriashi runs a bar and restaurant (Izakaya) in Tokyo called Sake Bar Doron, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they were forced to close at one point, and are currently only operational three days a week.

While wondering what they could do for the Japanese sake industry, which is seeing a decrease in consumption, they arrived at the idea of making a sake-related tool/product for connecting people. Although there is already a board game about running a winery, Sake Bar Doron owner Yuma Wada calls Kurasaku the world’s first board game about running a sake brewery.

Yuma Wada came up with the original plan for the game with it being made under the supervision of board game designer Seiji Kanai. Kanai is known for designing numerous analog games including Love Letter which received a 4th place prize from the Deutschen Spielepreises in 2014.

A crowdfunding campaign will be running until the evening of July 23 (JST) on the Japanese crowdfunding website Campfire and it has already passed the initial goal of 1-million-yen (roughly $7,400). A Japanese and English version of the game has already been completed and they are scheduled to ship out once the campaign ends.

There are over 10 types of rewards backers can receive, with 7,300 yen being the level for a standard Japanese copy of Kurasaku. There’s also a separate version available at the 8,300-yen level where the regular wooden player tokens are swapped out for tokens modeled after sake bottles. The English version of the game is available for backers at the 9,000-yen (roughly $70) level. There’s also a reward at the 35,000-yen (roughly $260) level where backers will receive an English copy of the game, and the game’s creator Yuma Wada will play a game with you anywhere in Japan.

In addition, there’s a backer reward that includes 4 cans of Gaming Rainbow sake from SakeBottlers (related article). Sakebottlers representative Masayuki Suzuki had this to say about Kurasaku. “Gaming and sake go hand in hand. This is what we thought when making Gaming Rainbow and now Mr. Wada has made a game about making sake. Sipping some gaming sake while playing a game about sake? It’s the perfect match!”

As mentioned earlier, sake consumption is trending down in Japan. Wada said of the current situation, “with projections of Japan’s population continuing to shrink (meaning less sake demand), a structural reform would be difficult. But if we do nothing, a brewery could be closing its doors right now. With demand from abroad, I think it may be possible to revitalize the industry.” Wada added, “maybe a board game isn’t the correct approach to remedy the matters at hand. But I want to raise the question to as many people as possible and maybe provide an example of what can be done.”