Why have the Japanese never got good at making wine?

There are some pretty damn good beers, and apparently the whiskeys are world class. There is also no lack of demand for wine in Japan, so I’d been wondering about this one for a while when I finally found an answer in Friday’s International Herald Tribune:

Japanese wineries betting on a reviled grape

To summarize, the weather conditions means that the vinifera grapes that are common in most great wine growing nations end up rotting in Japan. Most vineyards therefore use a local variant called koshu which is more resistant to the summer and autumn rains. Unfortunately, this grape is quite bitter, leading to most wine growers to add lots of sugar.


Why didn’t the police crack down on the yakuza before?

“Japan …has limited wire-tapping. There is no plea-bargaining allowed. There is no witness protection or witness relocation program. There is no incentive for a low-ranking yakuza to rat out the people above him and a hundred reasons for him to keep his mouth shut. For these reasons, most investigations often peter out before really getting off the ground….

It’s not a crime to be a member of a yakuza, although being a proven member has disadvantages in normal daily life.”

From the same interview as the last post¬†on the yakuza. I must say that I’d heard much dodgier theories than that, including that some of the money from pachinko goes straight into police pockets