Yesterday a special event was held by my office to celebrate Fukushima holding more gold awarded sake at the Annual Japan Sake Awards 2017 than any other prefecture in the country, for the fifth year in a row.
Event attendees could try 3 different types of gold-award winning sake for only 500 yen. Every day that the event is held, there are 8 types of sake to be chosen from, and the sake available will be rotated daily.
I went along to take photos and check out how the event was going, and was lucky to make it to the event on time to hear the Governor of Fukushima’s opening address. I have met the Governor one time before, and he is an absolutely lovely, kind man. I couldn’t believe it when he gave me a handshake to greet me yesterday!
In his opening address, he spoke congratulated the sake makers for their hard work and their achievements. He also spoke about how when we try sake from Fukushima Prefecture, we should think about 3 things which were integral to the brewing process:
- The hard work of the producers
- The love its producers hold for the region in which it was produced
- The sake as a symbol of the revitalisation of prefecture’s brewing industry
After his speech, the start of the event was signified by the lid of a barrel containing prize winning sake being smashed with big hammers.
I even got the chance to ‘kampai’ (have a toast / cheers) with the Governor later on in the evening, after I put my camera down.
The mood of the event was definitely very lively and exciting. Of course, most attendees had just finished a long day at work, but I think there was more to it than that.
For many people, the successes of breweries at the Sake Awards is a tangible sign that prejudice against Fukushima produce is reducing, and that Fukushima produce is being evaluated for the high quality and the time and love that is invested in the production process.
The success of Fukushima’s sake at the Annual Japan Sake Awards is definitely something to be celebrated – but not something that should really surprise sake fans. The prefecture’s ho-jun amakuchi naturally full, sweet style of sake, perfected over centuries, is well-known across Japan.
Breweries can be found all over the prefecture, but most are centered in Aizu area – particularly in Aizu Wakamatsu and Kitakata.
You can read about my visit to Suehiro Shuzo, one of the most famous breweries in Aizu Wakamatsu, here, and about my trip to Kitakata’s sake warehouses here. The fresh mountain snow that falls thickly over winter, and the purity of the water can be sited as reasons for the success of these two cities in particular!
There are so many brands of great sake in Fukushima, and too many sake varieties to list in one blog article, so I will leave you with this list of gold-award winning sake from the Annual Japan Sake Awards 2017. Make sure to check out the sake during your visit!
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