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There are so many reasons why Japan is my favorite country in the world, from their collective mannerism, to their nearly 100% literacy rate, to their stunning fashion, to their overall dedication to excellence.
When I think about my childhood, Nintendo64, Yoshi, Pokemon, and Sailor Moon come to mind. My guide immediately exclaimed, “Ooooh, you’re that generation.” Haha!
So when I had the opportunity to visit the Sake Festival last October with Japan’s National Tourism Organization, I was excited to treat my palette to one of the most popular aspects of Japan’s social culture.
One could say that essentially, I was there to try as many sakes as possible without falling over, but of course, it was simply research.Have you ever heard about the Sake Festival in Japan? Read about it here! Click To Tweet
We navigated our way through Higashihiroshima City’s Saijo district with crowds of people, mainly couples, families, and groups of friends who were gathered in circles to part-take in the day’s festivities.
This district is famous in Japan because of its sake brewing history, and all around the area, you can find well-established breweries nearby.
I was surprised to see just how popular this event was, getting up to 200,000 visitors a year, and even more impressed that a festival could be created around the exquisite drink we know as sake.
For those who’ve never tried sake before,
(are you even from this planet?), it’s basically a Japanese rice wine made from fermented rice, removing the bran, with a brewing process more similar to beer than actual wine.
It has a distinct taste because the sake rice that’s used to make it, isn’t the same as the rice that the Japanese eat. Sake takes nine to twelve months to mature, and what makes it most unique is its relatively high alcohol percentage of 18-20% as opposed to beer which is between 3-9%.
There’s not many countries I’ve traveled to, where the public indulging and celebration of alcohol hasn’t led to haphazard and outlandish behavior.
It was such a pleasant surprise to see everyone at the Sake Festival, even while quite inebriated, on their best behavior.
In general, I find Japanese people to be incredibly polite and respectful. At one point, we were juggling a couple cups of sake and a plate of food and dropped a pair of sunglasses.
Almost at a moment’s notice, three people tried to alert us of this as we were about to walk off. It’s very small and subtle details like this that make Japan such an exquisite place, even while eight cups deep in alcohol.
The Sake Festival takes place annually every second Saturday and Sunday in October, and with the weather being great around this time, and crowds not too extreme, I recommend visiting Japan in the fall.
This trip focused on Japan’s countryside beauty and culture, rather than the typical Tokyo experience most people might go to Japan for.
Hiroshima is where history, nature, and religion intersect and it was a great opportunity to get a look into a microcosm of Japanese culture.
Some other fun and random things I noted about my time in Japan, is that there’s hardly any trash cans on the streets, but people also never litter. They are more inclined to keep their trash with them and throw away when they get home.
Walking around town alone attracted attention mostly from people who looked my age, and they were always very gracious about asking for photos.
Traveling around Asia, most people won’t ask to take your photo, they will just take it of you, or put the camera in their friend’s hand and walk next to you and pose, haha.
Around Japan, they were very polite, always asked, and I even had a few talk about how they loved Obama!
Showing off the back of your neck is a sign of beauty here, but since I never wear my hair up, I’m not sure how much that docked my score in the looks department. Perhaps something to investigate later.
And lastly, slurping while you eat is actually normal and expected. Growing up in the states, this behavior is frowned upon, so I’m glad our guide gave us advanced notice to slurp our noodles, so it was fun to channel my inner-child again.
Japan has so much to offer and even more to be explored, so I hope when you get the chance to visit, you get the chance to visit the Sake Festival in Hiroshima and part-take in an authentic Japanese festive experience.
Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post by the Japan National Tourism Organization, but all words, opinions, and sakes consumed, remain my own. Thanks for reading!