Japan has given many things to the world that I cherish, but few of them have an unofficial holiday that gives me the excuse to celebrate them. Every October first, along with sake lovers all over Japan and around the world, I get to observe Nihonshu no Hi, also known as Sake Day.
This October first is perhaps a more solemn occasion than previous celebrations, as it comes on the heels of the horrible tsunami and nuclear disaster that did incalculable damage to Japan's infrastructure, including several sake breweries.
Like wine, no one knows exactly when sake first made an appearance. In a similar fashion to grape wine, the knowledge that fermented rice eventually yields an alcoholic beverage was probably discovered in accidental and then later deliberate stages, as innovative and curious folks explored ways of getting drunk.
Sake production and demand is likely to have peaked in Japan the mid 19th century when a law was passed allowing anyone to become a brewer. As many as 30,000 breweries were opened in the year of the law's passing, though that number dwindled as taxes on sake and its raw materials increased through the end of the century.
Despite ups and downs, and not being anywhere near its 19th century production levels, sake is seeing a major renaissance around the world, and that is worth celebrating for any sake lover. More and more excellent sake is leaving Japan and making its way abroad.
All of which means that on October first, you'll not only have something to celebrate but, some really good stuff to celebrate with, should you care to partake in the 6th Annual Sake day celebration put on by San Francisco's own True Sake store.
Appropriately, this celebration is a benefit for the Northern Japan Earthquake Relief Fund, and a remarkable 100% of the proceeds from the event will go directly to support victims of the disaster. What's not to love about that? Drinking great sake, eating excellent food, and all the while contributing to the rebuilding of an industry and a country, is a winning recipe.
Held in the heart of San Francisco's Japantown, Sake Day is an opportunity to taste an assortment of sake, eat some good Japanese food, and listen to a little music in a casual atmosphere. Various tasting stations will be set up that will allow attendees to compare different styles of sake, blind taste some varieties, as well as explore flaws like heat damage.
If you're looking for a way to learn about sake, you'd be hard pressed to find a better occasion to experience a number of them than this little event.
6th Annual Sake Day Celebration
Saturday, October 1
4:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Japanese Cultural and Community Center
1840 Sutter Street
San Francisco, CA 94115 (map)
Tickets are $65 if you buy before September 25th and should be purchased in advance online, as the event may sell out. Again, 100% of the proceeds go to the Northern Japan Earthquake Relief Fund.
See you there!