And just like that the brewing season has slowly come to an end and more and more events are popping up all around the country. It has been particularly great to see some of the sake events that have been canceled during the pandemic making a comeback. Plus having so many visitors come to Japan being interested in sake and wanting to try has been a real joy to see.
Kamikawa Taisetsu Hanami Event Tokyo
We were lucky to catch the last of the cherry blossoms in Tokyo at a very special Hanami event in collaboration with sake from @kamikawataisetsushuzo all the way from Hokkaido 🍶
It was so great to see so many familiar faces and a few new ones, and of course, drink the delicious sake including some limited items from the 3 breweries that I had the opportunity to visit earlier this year.
Needless to say, I am a big fan of the sake and the people who make it.
Sake Park - Shibuya
How exciting to see a new sake festival come to life and this one was one I was extremely looking forward to.
What started out as a crowdfunding project, very quickly reached their goal and the vision they created came together as promised. 26 amazing breweries offered their sake at Sake Park over two days on the rooftop of Shibuya's Miyashita Park along with some great food and music.
Great to see so many people, a mix of locals and visitors of all ages enjoying the sake and food Unfortunately, once more the rain interrupted the festival with heavy downpours on Saturday, which sadly meant that most visitors left as there was almost zero shelter. On the contrary, Sunday (from what I saw on pictures) was the most beautiful day and the festival was back on track.
Great start to this new venture and I am very much looking forward to attending again next year.
Brewery Visits Hiroshima
I was very excited to be joining the "Doburoku Lovers" for some brewery visits in Hiroshima and although one of the events had to be canceled it was so much fun visiting Fukumitsu Brewery and Kamotsuru Brewery including a small Shamisen concert inside the halls of Kamotsuru.
Fukumitsu Brewery Tour and Doburoku Lunch
First up, we visited Hiroshima-based Doburoku maker @oasa.asahikari and we were treated to an amazing lunch including, of course, plenty of Doburoku, but also a freshly cooked Doburoku Nabe hot pot, which was an absolute treat!
And what a great brewery to discover. From the beautiful small patio to the mesmerizing well, over to the compact extremely organized brewing space. There were some surprising fun elements, including a Trampoline and a community space full of entertainment. We ended up back to have the obligatory view into what is brewing in the tanks, to find a Kimoto-style Doburoku and another one made with wine yeast. Such a fun visit.
Kamotsuru Brewery Tour in Saijo
The second part of our Hiroshima visit started with a very special brewery tour of @kamotsuru_sake_brewing in Hiroshima by no other than head Toji Tomoyasu-san. Now this is one big brewery, in fact, they have more than one site, and we got a chance to visit 2 of them as we were slightly running out of time.
I have been here before as part of a Monitor trip so I kinda knew what to expect, however, it is still incredibly impressive. In fact, their more industrial Koji room (as there is more than one) took me a little by surprise. And talking about surprises, I really did not expect to see so many Kioke (traditional wooden barrels) here either...
Kamotsuru Tasting and Shamisen Concert Event
The reason why we were under a little bit of time pressure for our tour of the brewery, had a really good reason, a very special Shamisen concert inside the brewery including a tasting of four of their brews, including a Nigori that literally came fresh off the press. I am very much regretting not buying a few bottles of it, as it was such a great sake!
Great atmosphere and lovely to see many people come out to this very special small concert. If you are interested you can find out more about the artist and upcoming performances here.
A Visit to Sake Bar Yoramu - Kyoto
No visit to Kyoto would be complete without popping into Sake Bar Yoramu, a bar specializing in aged sake not far from downtown Kyoto.
With a vast variety of aged (but also "fresh") sake it is a great space to unwind, drink some amazing sake, and also learn a little bit about what is in your glass and how it came to be there.
This time I only really came to say "hi" and have one (meaning 4) and opted for some of my favorites; Mukai Shuzo's Ine Mankai, red sake made with ancient red rice, Furosen by Uehara Shuzo in Shiga and a trio from Eigashima Shuzo in Hyogo that I previously tried and really loved.
Opening Reception of "Blurred Reality - Disoriented" Kyotographie KG+
Excited to be back in Kyoto with another exhibition as part of the International Photography festival "Kyotographies" and their Kg+ satellite events. Continuing with part two of what started as an ongoing photo exhibition in 2021, I introduced "Blurred Reality - Disoriented" to a small audience as part of an artist talk and Q&A.
Followed by a reception and serving some of my favorite sparkling sake from Masumi. I had the pleasure of visiting the brewery last year and enjoyed an extensive tour of their facilities and tasting/paring dinners of their sake. If you have not tried their sake, make sure you do, as it is really outstanding.
Craft Sake Week Tokyo - "Awa Day"
With all the sake festivals finally returning, it was great to also see "Craft Sake Week" coming back in its old form.
With ten days of individual brewery lineups, the one that probably excited me personally the most was the first day under the theme of sparkling sake, and what a great theme to kick off the 2023 festival.
“AWA SAKE DAY” featured some of my favorite sparkling sake breweries, including bottles from Naigai Shuzu, Masumi, Mutsu Hassen, and of course Nanbu Bijin among a few that I have not had the chance to try before. To my delight, I picked @garyubai's sparkling rosé, and this will be one sake I will recommend to many in the future. A real delight and with much appeal due to its slightly pink color (thanks to the yeast used). It really tasted incredibly close to a sparkling Rosé wine.
Aged Sake Event - National Research Brewery Institute Tokyo
This “Aged Sake” event is possibly one of my favorite events all year! 🥃
With 100 different brands of aged sake from all around Japan, the organizers say that the total age of all of them is more than 500 years. To be honest I think they should probably triple or at least double that number 😄
This time the event was held at the National Research Institute of Brewing in Tokyo, which just added to the ambiance. I wish I could have spent all day there, but unfortunately, the event was limited to a 2h tasting window. Still, amazing afternoon and looking forward to next year!
Craft Sake Week "New Classic Day"
With more than a week of great sake, I made the journey to Tokyo a second time on day 3 of Craft Sake Week - New Classic Day.
It was great to not just catch up with fellow Sake On Air members, but also kanpai with a few favorites such as Fukucho's Seaside and meeting Watanabe-san from Fukurokuju in Akita, of which we had the pleasure to visit the brewery earlier this year.
Great to see so many people flock again to the festival, which has been turning out to be sake central in Tokyo, with many friends and familiar faces visiting the festival making it the perfect place to catch up.