Japan Sake Fair

The annual Japan Sake Fair at Ikebukuro Sunshine City must be the best kept secret of the alcohol world. 3000 yen for all the sake you can drink, from all over Japan, and the best sake in Japan to boot.

sake fair

On the plus side I had a free press pass. On the minus side, I was supposed to be taking pictures so couldn’t indulge quite as much as I’d like!

The fair was on two floors. Downstairs were about 500 sakes (yes, 500) lined up for tasting. A lot of the people here looked pretty serious – maybe sake sommeliers, or brewers scouting out the competition.

sake bottles for tasting

Something I only realised this year was that the real action is upstairs. There were stalls from each of the prefectures in Japan (except Kagoshima, which is the only prefecture without a sake brewery, I’m told). They all had sake you could sample.

Basically, what you need to do is go up to the stalls in turn and ask the eager staff to recommend two or three sakes and to explain their distinctive characteristics. I learnt a huge amount – at least until about the third or forth stall. I was holding onto my sake cup, not my camera by then, I’m afraid, so here are more photos from downstairs . . .

sake bottles

sake tasting

Japan Sake Fair, Jun 2009 – Images by Tony McNicol

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4 Responses to “Japan Sake Fair”

  1. Nice assignment and nice pics. Lucky you!!!

  2. tony says:

    Sometimes my job isn’t too bad! Think I might go back as a civilian next year though. Fancy joining me?

  3. Never pass up a sake tasting, be it at a department store or next to a train station in Kyoto. But this event! A kid in a candy store.

  4. Dan says:

    Anyone know when it will be held this year. I went last year and it was great. I want to go again

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