Written by Jasmine O
CRAFT SAKE WEEK 2019 - Drink And Be Merry With Top Sake From Across Japan
CRAFT SAKE WEEK is a major sake event where the most highly-rated breweries gather from throughout Japan. Read to learn about the 2019 event held in Roppongi Hills, Tokyo, and its festive, inviting atmosphere with rare and delicious rice wine.
Sake - Experience a Delicious Part of Japanese Culture
Similar to UNESCO-recognized Japanese cuisine, Japanese beverages are renowned worldwide. A well-known drink for many is rice wine, or sake. Sake is a beverage unique to Japan that has been enjoyed for centuries. The basic ingredients are rice and water, which means that sake is brewed throughout Japan. This can make it challenging to know which beverage to choose.
CRAFT SAKE WEEK is a major yearly sake event that offers fun and delicious opportunity to try carefully-selected, high-grade sake from all over Japan. While the 2019 Roppongi Hills event is over, it is likely to occur again in 2019 at a different venue.* Continue reading to learn about the background of this event, how to get tickets, and how to best enjoy drinking sake.
*This information is current as of May 2019.
CRAFT SAKE WEEK 2019 - Highly-Rated Sake Brands in Roppongi Hills, Tokyo
CRAFT SAKE WEEK is a large-scale event held since 2016. It was started by retired soccer athlete and sake connoisseur, Hidetoshi Nakata, to promote and educate people about the complexities of sake in a relaxed environment with entertainment.
In 2019, this event was from April 19 to April 29 at Roppongi Hills, a stylish shopping and entertainment facility in Tokyo. English language support was available at the event, making it smooth for international guests.
In 2019, each day of the 11-day event featured ten different breweries according to the theme of the day. This event was an ideal opportunity to sample rare and high-quality sake and to learn about sake companies from throughout Japan without leaving Tokyo.
There was also food from highly-rated restaurants and even KitKat chocolate to pair deliciously with the sake, making for a great afternoon and evening of leisure.
In addition to the food and drink, the fashionable venue featured traditional hemp rope decorations, a DJ, and a shop selling sake cups and flasks. The result was an exciting, memorable event that felt like a festival with its inviting environment and delicious drinks.
Tips for Enjoying the Event - How to Get Tickets and Sake
Tickets for CRAFT SAKE WEEK can be purchased in advance online or in-person on the day you want to attend.
When purchasing a ticket for the first time, you will receive a sake cup and a set of coins. The coins are used for purchasing beverages and food. Please note that if you go on a later date again, bring your sake cup to use and simply purchase another set of coins.
To get a drink, go to the sake counter, which has sake from the breweries of that day, with your coins and cup. Prices for sake range from 2 coins to 9 or more, so you can sample a variety of types. There are so many beverages and large selection, which might make it difficult to choose, so make sure to take a pamphlet at the front.
If you have further questions or want recommendations, ask an event employee or the representatives of the brewery you are interested in.
The event also introduced the smartphone application, Sakenomy, which displays information on different beverages and breweries with an active user base.
Available in multiple languages, you can use the app to scan sake bottle labels, read about the tastes and characteristics of the beverage, and rate the sake yourself. The application is downloadable and can be used on most sake bottles. You can try it the next time you go to an izakaya!
2019 Schedule and Sake Breweries
Each day of the event featured different breweries from around Japan. Seven days of the event were dedicated to regional sake, making it a great venue to obtain rare sake.
|April 19||Sparkling Sake Day|
|April 20||Tohoku Day|
|April 21||Hokuriku-Shin'etsu Day|
|April 22||Kanto Day|
|April 23||Tokai Day|
|April 24||Kansai Day|
|April 25||Chugoku, Shikoku Day|
|April 26||Kyushu Day|
|April 27||Sake Competition 2018 Day|
|April 28||Sakenomy Day|
|April 29||Team Juyondai Day|
Listed below are some of the sake we tried on Sparkling Sake Day, a day featuring champagne-like sake, and Sakenomy All Stars, which had the highest-ranked breweries from Sakenomy.
Dassai - Asahi Shuzo, Yamaguchi Prefecture
Dassai is a world-renowned sake brewed by Asahi Shuzo from Yamaguchi Prefecture. The brewery has continually received high evaluations in competitions and is widely sought-after. The high-grade sake at Dassai is junmai daiginjo, which means the rice grains used are more refined than typical junmai ginjo, resulting in a better flavor.
We tried the sparkling sake from Dassai which had a fruity, light flavor and slightly cloudy look, typical of sparkling sake. Dassai can be found in many locations in Japan and is also sold at limited locations in the United Kingdom and United States.
Ichinokura - Ichinokura, Miyagi Prefecture
Ichinokura is a brewery in Miyagi, located in an area known for its high-quality rice, which plays a vital role in how sake tastes. The sake brewing process here is done by hand and with precision, resulting in flavorful, easy-to-drink beverages. We chose the sparkling sake, which was slightly sweet and filled with a delicious rice flavor.
Kido - Heiwa Shuzo, Wakayama Prefecture
Wakayama's Heiwa Shuzo is a renowned brewery that makes Kido, a fine sake that is smooth with a light flavor. The sparkling sake had a slightly fruity aroma with a creamy and smooth taste.
Kikuizumi - Takizawa Shuzo, Saitama Prefecture
Takizawa Shuzo is a brewery in Saitama Prefecture, close to Tokyo. Kikuizumi, a sake with a delicious floral, chrysanthemum-like fragrance with a simple taste. We tried the sparkling sake variety, which was very easy-to-drink, like champagne.
Yuki no Bijin - Akita Brewing Company, Akita Prefecture
Akita Brewing Company from Akita makes Yuki no Bijin, a flavorful sake with a delicious, refreshing aftertaste. Akita Prefecture is known for its high-quality rice, which is another element that makes this beverage so satisfying.
International Cuisine, KitKats, and Japanese Sake
Each day of the event had food trucks from popular restaurants, with cuisine from different regions of Asia, Europe, and Japan. The majority of the dishes were international, in an effort to introduce pairings with non-Japanese food and sake, which is rare. The food is paid for with the same coins used for sake.
A fun activity to try at the event is the KitKat Pairing Bar, in which guests take a short survey to find out the type of sake and KitKat best matches their tastes out of 15 regional KitKat chocolate bars. The survey is available in Japanese and English.
Pictured above is the Amaou Strawberry KitKat (a Kyushu Region flavor) with Somura from Yamagata Prefecture. The sake was slightly sweet and very light, balancing out the sugariness and creaminess of the KitKat.
Learn about Sake at a Fun, Inviting Event
Sake is an integral part of many aspects of Japanese culture, from food to festivals and spiritual occasions. With thousands of breweries and drink varieties across Japan, CRAFT SAKE WEEK makes it less intimidating and more easy to enjoy and learn about this delicious adult beverage.
Be sure to check the official website for information on the next CRAFT SAKE WEEK event and take the opportunity to experience it for yourself.
Made in cooperation with SUNNY SIDE UP Inc.