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Food and Drink

The Joy of Sake goes back to its roots

A decade after it was initially convened to celebrate Japan's national drink, The Joy of Sake event will, for the first time, be held in Japan.

First held as a gathering of like-minded drinkers in Honolulu in 2001, when it attracted around 350 sake fans, The Joy of Sake has since expanded to such a degree that it is held annually on the mainland of the United States and is so popular that organizers are obliged to limit numbers.

And to mark its 10th anniversary, this year's event will be staged on November 2 in the TOC Building in Tokyo's Gotanda district.

Some 329 premium tipples from 166 brewers around the country will be available to sample, accompanied by live music, complimentary appetizers from a dozen Japanese and US restaurants and a hula dance performance.

The organizers have always based the event on public tasting sessions that are held annually in Tokyo and Hiroshima after the Japan National Sake Appraisal, the yardstick by which the season's output is ranked.

The US has a similar appraisal event, held in Honolulu in August, with a team of 10 Japanese and American judges determining the best brews over two days. In addition, "Citations of Excellence" will be awarded to breweries that have consistently turned out high-quality varieties for the last 10 years.

The Tokyo event will also include English-speaking sake "guides," who will be able to talk novices through the finer points of the different drinks.

The occasion will also include a series of sake-based events, including visits to breweries, specialist "izakaya" bars and a "yakatabune" party boat cruise along Tokyo's Sumida River.

And with the popularity of sake spreading internationally - partly thanks to the popularity of Japanese cuisine - the organizers are hoping to further internationalize the event. Future destinations that are being considered include Shanghai and London.

The Joy of Sake, Tokyo
November 2

Venue: Tokubetsu Hall, TOC Building, 7-22-17 Gotanda, Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo

Access: Tickets are Y8,000 (€74.32) per person and are available through the event website: www.joyofsake.com

Further information: www.joyofsake.com or +81 3 3494 2200