Sake Samurai - The Japan Sake Brewers Association's New Designation
On October 20th myself and 5 other sake centric folks were awarded an inaugural designation within the sake world during a memorable ceremony in the second oldest Shinto shrine in Kyoto, Japan. The experience itself ranks up there within the top five greatest days of my life. And I will be hard pressed to ever experience an event like that again for the rest of my days.
I was notified about the ceremony by email, which was followed by one of those "huge" envelopes that usually are reserved for weddings. Stunned beyond belief I shot off an email to John Gauntner to see if he knew what in the hell it meant. He had no clue! (John would get the same email and letter a few days later.) Slowly word came back to me from importers and the like that it was a new designation for those who strive for the betterment of sake on a host of levels. The letter asking if I would attend used words such as pioneer and keeper of sake's tremendous history. Me? I kept asking myself. Yes came back the reply from the current Sake Samurai Overall Chairman - Koichi Saura (Owner of Urakasumi brewery)
The ceremony itself will be touched upon in a future Newsletter, as it is worthy of far more than a few paragraphs, but let it be said that I have never been so nervous in my life as I was there bowing in front of a shrine of 1.8L sake bottles with each and every Shinto god looking down upon me and my orange socks. (Why did I pick that day of all days to wear my orange socks?) Pressure is one thing, but when a monk told the six of us to not screw up the ceremony (in so few words) I felt like a diamond under some wall of rock a mile under the earth's surface.
Of all of my titles and licenses within the sake world, this bar far is my greatest achievement. To be honored by those who brew and have brewed sake for generations makes me feel as if all of my hard work getting out the gospel was recognized and appreciated. People have asked me for quite some time, why did I open the first dedicated sake store outside of Japan? My answer was always the same, because I'm the only one dumb enough to do it. Well maybe the fact that I am now a Sake Samurai means that I am not that dumb after all. (This is still debatable)
Let me collect my thoughts and notes on this tremendous event and I will post more in a future Newsletter!