Thanks to everyone who came and made the two sake tasting days a success. For those who didn’t come, here’s a rundown of what went on January 25th and 26th. Feel free to use this itinerary to go on your own!
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We met at Mikage station at 11:30 am, and walked the few steps it took to get to はなや (restaurant specializing in creative Japanese dishes). The place was cozy, nestled in one of the side streets. After shedding our shoes and being seated, we got busy ordering from the four lunch options. It was an easy bill to split, as meals were priced at either 1000 or 1500 yen (comes with a side of miso soup and pickles). I ordered the tempura donburi set and each morsel was definitely worth every yen. The house specialty of Awaji stone grilled chicken also looked amazing; grilling is done on a personal hot black stone. There’s nothing like a pseudo mini cookout to incite some lively conversation. Despite being a little late to the reservation, our patient waitress thanked us for our patronage with “service” (complimentary) dessert. It was tofu (I think?), but tasty. I am completely serious when I say that that was the best Japanese dining experience I’ve had in Japan. Many of us left with their meishi in hand.
Bellies full, we traversed across the railroad tracks to the Hakutsuru brewery (“Japan’s number one selling brand!”) With videos dating back to at least the 80’s at every display, we learnt the ins and outs of sake brewing and why Hakutsuru’s sake stands above the rest. This brewery-museum has two floors filled with life-size displays. At the finish line there stood the much anticipated sake tasting room. There were even cake samples in the shop. Some of us took to dressing up in the brewery’s outfits and posing with massive bottles of sake. Since we were already in the area, we decided to drop by another brewery, the Kiku-Masamune brewery (“TOP BRAND Karakuchi in Japan”). We watched a ten minute film in a mini theatre reporting on the special Kimoto method of creating a sake with a “dry, yet rich taste”. We ended the day with a quick browse around the shop and more sampling.
I’d like to give special thanks to Ryan Hertel for running the Saturday portion of the event. I had a great time meeting new people and catching up with others, thanks again for attending!
photos by: Daniel McLaughlin