I can pinpoint the exact moment I realized I had to create FACTO. It was before I had moved to Tokyo, that I went on a trip to a small, remote fishing village outside Kumamoto, called Amakusa. It was a very quaint place, famous for seafood and onsen (hot springs) and one night we paid a visit to the hotel bar, which aside from my friends and I, was completely empty, and it seemed to be the case our entire time there. Despite the fact that it seemed as though this bar rarely had any guests whatsoever in such a remote town, the bartender had somewhat of an impressive air about him.
We sat down and he began asking us what we wanted to drink, offering up some suggestions. After taking our orders he proceeded to begin mixing our cocktails and as he did so, I remarked on how expansive his assortment of liquors was. He said it was nothing compared to his collection at home. It made me realize that he wasn't just bartending to earn a living, but that he was truly passionate about alcohol. As the drinks were made through a marvelous display of ice chipping, mixing, shaking and pouring into exquisite glasses, he would make sure to dab a drop of each of the final products onto his hand to taste for quality before service. Unhappy with one taste test, he abandoned the drink altogether and remixed it until it was to his liking.
There was something about the experience that left me in awe of this gentleman and was essentially my first encounter with the shokunin spirit. I came to realize that sort of attention to detail and the unwavering dedication to the excellence of his craft was almost a sort of social obligation to provide the highest level of artisanship for his customers. You could sense this was intrinsic to this gentleman's duty to craft and not something bound to the realm of commerce or money. It made me see how important it was for the Japanese, that at every level of service or goods, regardless of the price, that quality and craftsmanship was paramount.
It inspired me to rethink what I was doing in life and with my career and sparked a new kind of purpose and passion for me. Though I'd already been working in the shoe business for several years at that point, it made me realize that as a maker of goods, it would become my mission to aspire to shokunin, and ultimately it was the pursuit of this mission rather than the reward that would be the driver of my craft. For that and for introducing me to the whisky highball, I will forever be indebted to this gentleman.