Chasing Cherry Blossoms
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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Sake Festival 2012

The good thing about being a second year JET here in Japan is that, if you're generally slow on the uptake like I am, staying an additional year affords you a second chance to try out all those things you missed out on the first time around... like Saijo's Sake Festival! Situated in Hiroshima prefecture, which itself is the closest of Honshu's prefectures to my home of Ehime, the Sake Festival attracts a huge Ehime contingent. Tagline: MIKANZ ON TOUR.

Slipping through the streets of Saijo, there were already signs of those who had hit it a little too hard, a little too soon: a few men were draped over bushes, moaning ominously, unaware entirely of the police officers prodding them...or the fact it was only 2PM. More excited than deterred, on we ventured. As we were queuing for our tickets, I felt a hand eagerly pat me on the back. Turning around, there stands an unknown Japanese woman, excitedly waving her entry ticket at me. "DAIJOUBU DESU", I insist as I absent-mindedly attempt to brush her off, figuring she was some shady ticket tout with a shadier deal to be brokered. Yet again, however, my natural suspicion proved unfounded... as it turns out she was, in fact, presenting me with a free ticket. Realising my mistake, I made my apologies (replete with a series of bows) and snatched my Golden Pass to the mayhem inside. Seems that, even after a year here, I can't quite shake that inherent English cynicism. WHEN WILL I LEARN?

What happened after that... well, I'm not entirely sure. The Sake Festival's main attraction is a big outside pen, bordered with stalls offering all different varieties of Sake from the various regions of Japan (FIRST STOP SAKE #69 FROM THE KINK REGION WEY). 1,500 yen (or, in my case, an undeserved free ticket) secures you a small sake cup upon entry... which you are welcome to refill with as much sake as you like from the various stalls. For eight hours.

So that's exactly what we did.

Jesse sleeps it off on the station floor.


The bush was more comfortable than the floor, apparently.

The results were pretty spectacular. And I don't even like sake. For all the hundreds of different varieties, I struggled to find two that tasted differently... and soon enough, I wasn't tasting much anyway.

At least it only happens once a year.

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