In general, the word sake, in Japanese, refers to any alcoholic beverage; however, in English, it means a specific type of rice alcohol, also known as nihonshu. Sake is sometimes called rice wine, but in truth, it is not a wine, nor is it exactly a beer, nor a spirit. Sake is a rather unique type of fermented alcohol: a truly 'brand Japan' item.
The last weekend (October 11-12, 2008) was a celebration time in the Central park of Saijo town in Higashi-Hiroshima where, 'Sake Festival', also known as 'Sake Matsuri', an annual celebration of Japanese sake (rice wine), was held. Over 900 brands of sake was assembled from sake breweries around Japan and was served to the visitors to taste. This festival is one of the most well known and attended events in the Hiroshima prefecture of Japan.
A section of the Saijo town, known as 'sake street' became a hive of activity with its old family breweries opened to the public. Outdoor stalls selling sumptuous local snacks line the street, and in the evening a colorful parade kept visitors merry well into the night. There were also several stalls run by the foreigners living in Hiroshima. Please take a look of some of the photographs that I captured through my camera:
(A glimpse of the performance during the Sake festival)
I was on the streets of Saijo, which literally resembled 'a sake town' that afternoon, with some of my friends. One could feel the cloud of Sake-fueled haze there and, see the ever growing thirsty crowd moving around the stalls in search of different brands of sake (& foods) and, the staff seemed to be doing their best to get everyone as drunk as inhumanly possible. However, there was a notice board reading "We reserve the right to refuse to serve to any guest who is deemed to have had too much to drink. Any guest who fails to follow directions given by the event staff will be asked to exit the event grounds."
I don't drink alcohol. So, you must be thinking that perhaps, I am not the right person to report the thrill & fun associated with the sake festival. But hang on, I don't drink, that is why I am in a better position to tell you exactly what was happening on the ground. For people like me, who don't drink, there were plenty of food items & non-alcoholic beverages in the stalls. In addition to that, there were musical performances going on relentlessly. I captured some of the clips and uploaded them at the Revver (Click here to watch).
It was indeed a fun visiting all those stalls displaying (& selling, of course!) local as well as international foods. However, all good things had to end, and so did the sake festival. Even basic animal skills like walking had deserted a lot of us. We realized that while the Japanese claim themselves to be polite and self-controlled people in the world, they are probably the world’s pre-eminent alcoholics. The sheer amount of alcohol put away in such a short time was astonishing. I’ve never thought of myself as being a drinker, but It was a good (?) feeling to witness the presence of all the alcoholic Giants!