Sake Matsuri

By Alex Kay

October is, in my opinion, the best month here in Japan. The weather is perfect, there are four whole days off work (!!), and of course, there are two days every October when people from all over the country come to the town of Saijo to drink copious amounts of alcohol. In fact, when attending the famous Saijo Sake Festival, you are expected – encouraged, even – to drink lots and lots of sake (I even saw kiddies who would have been at least ten years under the age limit tastetesting some of Saijo’s finest with their parents!) and everyone looks the other way if you end up acting like a complete fool.

Like all years, there were a decent number of JETs at the festival. For those of you who missed it, mark it in your diaries for next year; it’s usually held on the Saturday and Sunday of the long weekend in October. This year’s festival saw a record 250,000 people –double the amount of people expected! Little Saijo was definitely the place to be.

There are a number of old family breweries in one section of the town which were opened to the public and offering free samples. There was also a section of town fenced off where you could pay 1,500 yen to drink all you could drink! This was where visitors could sample over 700 types of Japanese sake (some much more potent than others), which meant a lot – and I mean A LOT – of drunk people!

On top of all that, there were parades, street vendors and plenty of stalls selling all sorts of goodies, usually meat on a stick… yummo! All in all, there was fun had by everyone. If you are around next year – give it a go!