The Fourth All-Japan Sake Fair is looking to tap into the new-found popularity of Japan's national drink when the event opens its doors in the Ikebukuro district of Tokyo on June 16.

The event incorporates the 2010 National New Sake Awards, with two tasting sessions open to the public. Around 450 different varieties that have been brewed through the last winter will be available to sample, while the main section of the fair will have booths promoting the best sake from each of Japan's prefectures.  
Only Kagoshima will not be represented, according to the organisers, as it is the only prefecture in Japan that does not produce its own sake.

Representatives of the brewers will also be on hand to explain the subtle differences and characteristics of each sake.

The awards are being staged for the 98th time since 1911 and are a key date on the sake brewers' calendar. The event is designed to both review the quality of sake produced this season in order to work toward improving the quality and manufacturing techniques of the brew in the coming seasons.

After enduring a tough couple of decades, thanks to beer companies' tactic of regularly releasing new versions of their products and the popularity of imported alcoholic drinks, not least wine, sake appears to be enjoying something of a renaissance in its homeland.

The Japanese government, for example, has started serving sake to foreign dignitaries when they visit, a practice that was first introduced in a major way at the 2008 Group of Eight summit in Hokkaido. The leaders of the G8 nations and their wives all toasted the success of the talks with sake in lacquerware cups.

Sake has also become increasingly fashionable overseas, partly a result of the growing popularity of Japanese cuisine.

This year's sake fair is being organised by the Japan Sake Brewers' Association  and the National Research Institute of Brewing.

Date: 16-09-2010  

The Fourth All-Japan Sake Fair opening times: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.  

2010 National New Sake Awards Open Sake Tasting: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.  

Venue: Halls A2 and A3, 4th floor, World Import Mart, Ikebukuro Sunshine City, 3-1 Higashi-Ikebukuro, Toshima-ku, Tokyo.  

Tickets: Y3,000 (€27.31) in advance or Y3,500 (€31.86) on the door. Tickets available through Ticket Pia at +81 570 02 9999.

Further information (in Japanese): or The Japan Sake Brewers' Association, +81 3 3501 0108.