Hanami-zake: Enjoy Cherry Blossoms, Drink Sake, and Support Japan (Sunday, May 1st, 2011)
Literally meaning flower viewing, “hanami” refers to a popular leisure activity among Japanese, watching cherry blossoms with friends, family, co-workers, etc. to appreciate the moment of happiness. Drinking sake during hanami making the mood even happier, is called “hanami-zake.” It’s the hanami season now, but in Japan, people are discouraged from going out for hanami this year because of the earthquake and tsunami, which devastated the Tohoku area (Northeastern part) of Japan. Currently in Japan, people are not in the mood for spending money and enjoying life. However, this trend will make the economy fall behind. This is why Hana-Sake Nippon (www.hana-sake.jp) was established. The group was formed right after the disaster to support the sake industry in the heavily damaged areas (Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima) by promoting hanami-zake. Consuming sake helps not only the sake industry but also local agriculture, distribution and retail businesses. So, by just drinking and enjoying sake, you can help Japan.
Also, in New York, there will be some Japan relief sake & food events taking place. On April 27, “New York Loves Japan: A Sake & Chef’s Tasting to Benefit Relief Efforts in Japan” will be presented by Project By Project. They will offer over 100 different sake pairings with food prepared by 15 premium restaurants. The proceeds of the event will be donated to the Japanese Red Cross Society (www.nylovesjapan.com). On May 13, The Akita Sake Club will create an evening of sake tasting in support of northern Japan. They will present Sakes from all over northern Japan from the prefectures of Hokkaido, Aomori, Iwate, Yamagata, Miyagi, Fukushima and Akita. All net proceeds and donations will go to areas affected by the earthquake and tsunami (TEL:212-682-4393, firstname.lastname@example.org).
From May 19 to June 30, Robataya in the East Village will conduct a campaign to introduce the food, sake, and culture of northern Japan to customers, in support of the recovery from the earthquake and tsunami. They will highlight the food and drink of northern Japan by creating a special menu to feature cuisine of the region, and offering discounts on sakes from the various prefectures (www.robataya-ny.com).
These events will be a great introduction to new sakes you have not tried before. Enjoying sake and contributing to the recovery of Japan—why not take such a wonderful opportunity.
Here are the messages from three of the participating breweries in Hana-Sake Nippon, whose sake are available in the U.S.
Kosuke Kuji, 5th generation president of Nanbu Bijin Brewery
In northeastern Japan the situation is such that many people think, “this is no time for drinking sake.” However, if we continue this way we will suffer a second disaster economically. Drinking sake lifts people’s spirits. It helps people heal. We the people of northeastern Japan hope that people will support us by drinking our sake. So rather than abstaining, we hope that you enjoy some sake and go out for “hanami” (cherry blossom viewing). Sake lifts people’s spirits, makes food taste better, and enriches the time we spend together. We truly hope that you will drink sake and energize yourself, and spread some of that energy around northeastern Japan. Here at our brewery in Iwate, we want to continue to make sake that’s even better than it was before, and use our strength to help the coastal areas in any way we can. To that end, we ask you to please support us by drinking the sake of Iwate Prefecture.
Nanbu Bijin Brewery: www.nanbubijin.co.jp
Masahiko Fujio, brewmaster of Asabiraki Co., Ltd.
At this time I would like to extend my deepest sympathies to all the victims of the great earthquake and tsunami. The current mood of many is to abstain from drinking sake, but since olden times, sake has been thought of as a great healing remedy. I ask you, for the future of Japan, for the recovery of Iwate Prefecture, please enjoy sake. Iwate will not give up. Japan will not give up. I thank you for your support.
Asabiraki Co., Ltd.: www.asabiraki-net.jp
Hiroko Yokosawa, brewmaster of Tsukinowa Brewery
Due to the earthquake, the brick chimney that was a symbol of our brewery collapsed, and the brewery suffered severe damages. But now, we are all working toward recovery with burning desire. Currently, all of Japan is engulfed in a mood of abstaining from sake. So not only have we suffered damage from the earthquake, but now we are facing a situation where we cannot sell our sake. This is extremely worrisome. Sake always brings people’s hearts together. People should be thinking, “Let’s lift our spirits,” “Let’s cheer up.” We want to continue working to make sake, while imagining you all sitting under the cherry blossoms and drinking up. Everyone, please support us by drinking sake from Iwate Prefecture.
Tsukinowa Brewery: www.tsukinowa-iwate.com