The tax office in Hiroshima sponsors a yearly sake tasting and networking event, and this year they included 50 spaces specifically for foreign residents of Japan. The sake world is looking more and more outward, and from the top down the whole industry is focusing more on international appeal.
The event began with a short seminar on sake basics including appropriate tasting technique, and then the group was brought to the tasting room where 220 sakes from brewers all across the Chugoku region were available for tsting. The five prefectures of Chugoku include Hiroshima, Okayama, Shimane, Tottori and Yamaguchi, and the largest showing by far was from Hiroshima, followed by Okayama then Yamaguchi.
It was pretty great, over all. I got a chance to try new brews and revisit familiar ones, talk with friends old and new, and make some very good industry contacts for work.
But of course, the sakes were the center stage.
I spent a lot of time around the Yamaguchi table to talk to toji, but of course I couldn’t pass up the chance to try some other regional sakes. I was quite impressed with some aged sakes from Tottori and Hiroshima.
The Okayama showing was strong, of course, with lots of Omachi rice sakes showing off the sakamai’s rich, herbal flavor. Kamikokoro is one Kura I’ve tried before, and their sample here today was another great one. Another really impressive Okayama sake was Chikurin Taoyaka from Marumoto Sake Brewery.
Of course, Yamaguchi had not only familiar sakes like Dassai, Wakamusume, Gokyo, and the great Room, but ones I hadn’t tried before, as well. Sousou is another brew from the Tabuse Agricultural Highschool, and this time it’s purely original, without sponsorship or guidance from an outside kura. It was quite lovely, easy to drink and fresh.
Santoka has a very fruity and deep Junmai Ginjo-shu made from the Yamaguchi’s own Saito no Shizuku rice.
And as an added treat, I got another chance to talk with Toshiro Yamagata, toji and president of Yamagata Honten kura, and the leader of the Yamaguchi Sake Brewer’s Association. It was a fine opportunity, and a nice cap to a great day.