Suntory Announces Dojo Program to Teach Japanese Bartending
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House of Suntory Announces ‘Dojo’ Program to Teach the Art of Japanese Bartending


The House of Suntory has announced that, for the third year, it will host its Dojo program to teach the art of Japanese bartending. (Photo: House of Suntory)

The House of Suntory this month announced the return of its “Dojo” advocacy program, targeting the hospitality industry, to educate bartenders on the art of Japanese bartending and Suntory’s premium portfolio of Japanese sprits: Toki and Hibiki whiskies, Roku gin and Haku vodka.

The Dojo Academy will comprise four Online Masterclasses will be hosted from June to September, led by Suntory Ambassador James Bowker and authentic Japanese Masters of Craft. Fifty slots will be made available. A more selective program, the Dojo Senpai, will be offered to only 25 bartenders. This program will provide six months of “intensive growth and development,” according to the Suntory Dojo website. A Senpai welcome lunch and tasting will be held this month to introduce the program and the House of Suntory’s spirits profile.

“We’re extremely delighted to bring back DOJO for a third year, and this time, we’re back in person after two years of virtual sessions,” Bowker said. “Japanese food and drink remain the UK’s fastest growing sector in hospitality (CGA Report 2021) and following a challenging period in our industry, the programme aims to motivate bartenders through incomparable experiences and authentic Japanese bar training.

“Those taking part will develop new ways to bring creativity to the art of Japanese bartending and gain unique insights into creating better guest experiences. I am really looking forward to welcoming the future DOJO ambassadors to our close-knit, yet growing community.”

Each masterclass will take place at Japan House in London. The sessions will be centered around the three pillars of House of Suntory: WA (being in harmony with Japanese nature), Monozukuri (traditional Japanese principles of craftsmanship) and Omotenashi (authentic Japanese hospitality).

The masterclasses will focus on:

Sushi and Seasoning: This session will include a Haku vodka tasting

Ikebana and Aesthetics: This session will focus on the art of Ikebana flower arranging and how to adapt it to cocktail garnishing, focused on Japanese aesthetics and beauty. This session will include a Roku gin tasting.

Kaiseki and Psychology: This session will teach traditional multi-course Japanese dining and will include a tasting of the blending components of Toki whisky.

Chadō and Hospitality: This session will highlight Japanese hospitality, explored via a traditional tea ceremony, including an in-depth tasting of Hibiki whisky.

The Sushi and Seasoning class will be held July 20 for the Academy and June 21 for the Senpai. The Ikebana and Aesthetics class will be held July 20 for the Academy and July 19 for the Senpai. The Kaiseki and Psychology class will be held Sept. 14 for the Academy and August 23 for the Senpai. The Chadō and Hospitality class will be held Sept. 14 for the Academy and Sept. 13 for the Senpai.

The concept of Kaizen, which means “continual improvement,” will be an important part of the Dojo. participants will face Kaizen Challenges throughout the duration of the course, including participants showcasing their skills and applying them to a classic cocktail.

According to Suntory, those who demonstrate the art of refinement and Kaizen during the masterclasses will be invited to the Dojo Finale in November, which will bring together finalists from the Academy and Senpai programs to partake in a competition hosted by Bowker and bar master Hidetsugu Ueno of Bar High Five in Tokyo. At the end of the Masterclass, the group will present their “Kaizen Classic,” and two bartenders will win a trip to Japan.

Several Japanese-inspired Dojo mini-events also will be held in various London locations throughout the year, including Japanese tea tasting and a Kanpai sake brewery tour.

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David Morrow is the Editor In Chief of Whiskey Raiders and has been with the company since September 2021. David has worked in journalism since 2015 and has had bylines at Sports Illustrated, Def Pen, the Des Moines Register and the Quad City Times. David holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication from Saint Louis University and a Master of Science in Journalism from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. When he’s not tasting the newest exciting whiskey releases, David enjoys spending time with his wife and dog, watching sports and traveling.