I attended the 2012 Sake Tengokukai at the gorgeous Keio Plaza Hotel in Shinjuku, one of the largest sake tasting events in the world! Thanks to some old drunkard country bumpkins I had met last year at the Niigata Sake Fair, I was able to be there, otherwise I wouldn't have known about it, or would've probably filled my schedule with something else.
This is not a post on how wonderful the sake fair was, so if this is why you came, leave. This is a blog / dairy / information resource with tons of useful tidbits according to my opinion.
So I received an e-mail in my mixi box four months ago informing me of the 2012 Sake Tengokukai by a Jukujo I had met at the sake fair last year. She told me she would purchase the ticket for me, and that everything would be arranged. She would be bringing along three of her drunkard friends as well, so in total five of us. And one grass eater - I forgot to mention. When I met them in Tokyo they had asked me to pay them for the ticket! OK. I had thought the ticket was covered by them, but it wasn't. No big deal, I said to myself. I paid 5000 yen.
Arriving in Shinjuku, I made my way through the station to the Keio Plaza. For those of you who may not know, Shinjuku is one of the most exciting areas in Tokyo. Everybody dresses up and is fashionable, and well groomed here. I had on a suit: oxford cotton, black slacks and jacket, clean shaven, hair neatly trimmed. The Keio Plaza is a ritzy four star mega luxury-hotel and is host to some amazing restaurants and bars. Everybody was well dressed except my drunkard friends. It was offensive. How do you show up in Shinjuku, one of the poshest areas in Tokyo, and at one of the most prestigious hotels and sake tasting events in Japan in dirty jeans, face unmade up, and unfashionable? Everybody was in suits and slacks except them, we stuck out like sore thumbs.
I had to remind them that they were in Shinjuku and that jeans and second hand T-shirts were unacceptable to wear here. One of them said we wanted to be comfortable because it gets hot at these events. I was visibly uncomfortable because I had to pay for my own ticket. Had they told me not to worry about the ticket, I would've never made such a curt comment about their sense of fashion. Was I there to entertain them? Had they paid for my ticket I would've gladly entertained them…… ( silly foreigner exhibition). Often times, Japanese do not ask you out to nurture an intimate friendship, but for English conversation practice. There is almost never a pure motive. Remember that.
At this point I felt no need to entertain them with my presence, nor the free English conversation practice. After we made our way into the event hall, we took a table, sampled several varieties of local beer - yes, beer was free.. Dinner boxes were provided for the event, so we enjoyed eating some good food, and sampling some great sake. After an hour I went my own way. I did what I do best. Seek out new thick Jukujo, imbibe on the sake and rub shoulders with brew masters. I felt no need to be around a bunch of underdressed country bumpkins who talked about the same topics again and again " oishii" "oishii" "oishii" ( delicious in Japanese). I had had enough. There's only so much a person can bare with broken English and repetitive expression that have no meaning.
As the evening wore on, the room filled up to max capacity. I shook hands with so many folks from out of town. I sampled several frozen sake cocktails, like ume sorbet. I greeted some lovely eye candy. This activity went on for about 40 minutes, until I came across an amazing Jukujo. We hit it off instantly. It was becoming an incredible evening, one that I will forever hold dear to me. So after completely leaving the drunkards behind - not returning to follow up with them - I stuck with one 30 something Jukujo. She was exactly my type! Thick, beautiful skin, chubby cheeks, tall, and busty. Most of all, she loves sake. Her parents are from Hyogo, making her West Japan stock. Good genes!
I brought her over to my drunkard country pumpkins table to do a meet and greet. They wished us well and I bid them farewell and the both of us, plus her subordinates went to an after party at Yakichi's. She works for a big company in Tokyo and refuses to tell me the name. We exchanged pecks in between floral scented sake sips. And then there was a third after party which lasted up until 2am. I was amazed. She pointed at her subs and told them to foot the bill while we left for our love nest in Nishi-Shinjuku! As I have mentioned many times, sake is the soul of Japan; Jukujo is the living kami, the chalice of sake and the infusion of all that is good, noble, and beautiful in this country. Anything else simply does NOT exist anymore. Remember that.
You would've done the same thing. Shut up.
The Soul of Japan
Final notes: In Japan, try to sift through the things you need and don't need. Take what you need from Japan, don't sell your soul ( dignity) for their entertainment. True and intimate friendships are extremely rare to come by, like with any country. It's just that in Japan, the veneer of bullshit is so fine layered, and difficult to distinguish. Soul is an abstract concept for many Japanese, yet the country is filled with soul. It is this duplicity that tears at the real essence of Japan and making it difficult to understand. The people may claim to have no soul, yet soul exists in the form of the arts, nature, and cultural heritage. And in the sake, and the Jukujo.