August was an incredibly busy month and I thought it would be hard to beat, but somehow September has done it! Sake events are still popping up on every corner and all over Japan, which is amazing to see, yet makes it quite hard to check out all of them. So this month is more of a selection of events that made it onto my sake calendar and as there were just too many I decided to split the month into two parts to do them all justice 😉
Konohanano Doburoky Brewery Visit Asakusa, Tokyo
If you're in Tokyo there is really no excuse not to pop into Konohanano Doburoku Brewery and their adjacent Izakaya called "ALL (W)RIGHT". As you walk in, you get to see the Doburoku production first hand, as the staff is often washing rice, mashing fruits (in my case creating a delicious peach Doburoku), and other steps. And as you move on you will find a cozy bar and seating arrangements further down in the back. Make sure to order their Doburoku tasting set of 3 and if you are feeling peckish the french fries were to die for.
Konishiki Naro Pre-Launch!
Not sake, but worth mentioning, because I love sumo (along with many other cultural aspects of Japan), was meeting Konishiki, a sumo legend! Meeting him and learning about his journey was truly inspirational and if you do want to know more then make sure to check out Naro.tv's on-demand mini-series. I tried to do the sumo exercises that you can see in it and have a newly found respect for how fit these guys really are!
Last "Sake Extreme" Fermenter Friends at Hakko Department, Tokyo
Sadly to see this was the last of the "Sake Extreme" Fermenter Friends events by Justin Potts and Hiraku Ogura, due to Justin's latest adventure that will take him to new lands. As expected there were not just many familiar faces, there was also some really exceptional sake, including a few bottles from Justin's personal stash, and of course, plenty of kanpai's! I do hope the event comes back in some form or shape, fingers crossed.
Sugita Sake Monitor Tour Oyama, Tochigi
Sake tourism is really on the rise and with the promise of Japan soon opening up, many breweries are trying to improve how they greet, guide, and share knowledge about what they do. So it was a real pleasure to visit Sugita sake brewery and give them feedback on how to improve what they already do (and really well indeed), especially aimed at foreign tourists. Loved the sake too and am always happy to see some bottles made with local Yumesasara rice. He did have one surprise for us, a pink nigori sake that gets its color from the yeast, not the rice...
Shochu Workshop at the Sake and Shochu Information Center in Tokyo
It has been great to see the Japan Sake and Shochu Information Center coming alive with events recently! And I must confess I was very much looking forward to this because I am not a huge shochu drinker. Aimed at the foreign press, we got a quick introduction to the beverage, some sales figures, and a basic tasting of different shochu varieties including an Edo-style Shochu and Mirin cocktail that was quite surprising.
Sawahime (Inoue Shuzo) Monitor Tour, Utsunomiya
Another sake monitor tour to help the breweries to get better at receiving visitors. I was very excited to visit Inoue Shuzo because I know this brewery and its Toji, Sato-san. His expertise in the tasting room (as this is not a full brewery tour) was pretty hard to beat, with many great food pairing suggestions. However, we did get a cheeky brewery tour at the end by no other than owner Inoue-san himself and I might have picked up a bottle or two for a future event. Really just great people and great sake.
Craft Sake Weekend Yoyogi, Tokyo
Despite the approaching Typhoon and its pouring rain, many people flocked to Yoyogi park as Craft Sakie Weekend returned for a 3 day-long weekend. Although ankle-deep in water, we all had a good time and were happy to meet and support many breweries over the duration of the festival (which I popped in on Sunday and Monday). Looking forward to attending this again next year, hopefully with slightly better weather next time.