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2023 Miss SAKE Kotoko Yamada and Runner up Hikari Saito attended the Seoul Sake Festival 2024

Hello everyone,

We are Kotoko Yamada, the 2023 Miss SAKE Japan, and Hikari Saito, the 2023 Miss SAKE Runner-up.

At the end of May, as the seasons shift from spring to summer, we had the great honor of participating in the “Seoul Sake Festival 2024” in Seoul, South Korea. We are excited to share with you the highlights of the event.

Seoul Sake Festival


The Seoul Sake Festival is one of the largest events in Asia dedicated to Japanese sake, featuring over 500 types of premium sake, authentic shochu, and awamori from breweries all across Japan.

This event is hosted by the “Korea Local Sake Importers Association Central Committee,” which consists of seven companies that import Japanese sake and shochu into South Korea.

Building on the success of the previous year, Seoul Sake Festival 2024 doubled its venue size and welcomed over 6,000 attendees, filling the space with excitement and smiles.

Event Details:

Date: May 25th (Saturday) and 26th (Sunday), 2024

Location: Seoul Trade Exhibition & Convention Center (SETEC), Exhibition Hall 3

Event Hours:
May 25th (Saturday): 1:00 PM – 6:00 PM
May 26th (Sunday): 11:00 AM – 6:00 PM

Host: Korea Local Sake Importers Association Central Committee (Nihonshu Korea, Nihon Sake, Jizake CY Korea, Ichiro, CR Trading, Sakaya Korea, Kumagai Shurui)

Support: Embassy of Japan in South Korea

Opening Ceremony


The opening ceremony was conducted under the direction of Junko Kondo, a renowned announcer and holder of various qualifications such as a Sake Expert and Sake Tasting Master.

First, the CEO of Ichiro Co. expressed his joy at being able to hold the event again this year. Following his speech, we, Miss SAKE, had the great honor of addressing the audience in Korean. We shared our enthusiasm for the event and the charm of sake in the language we had studied for this occasion.

When I spoke in Korean, the audience’s applause and smiles made me incredibly happy. It was a powerful experience to convey the appeal of sake and our enthusiasm for the Seoul Sake Festival directly to the attendees. It strengthened our resolve to share the beauty of sake over the two-day event.

After our greetings, we joined the representatives of the seven organizing companies in a traditional sake barrel opening ceremony to wish for the success of the event and the continued prosperity of all participants.

Event Highlights


As with last year, over 4,000 advance tickets had already been sold, and there was a long queue an hour before the venue opened. It was impressive to see people of all ages, particularly many young participants in their 20s and 30s eagerly waiting to join the event.

This year, a limited number of tickets were available for purchase on the day of the event, and some attendees lined up early in the morning to secure them. We spoke with the first person in line, who said they had arrived 3 hours before the venue opened!

Knowing that so many people were looking forward to enjoying sake at this event made us incredibly happy.

 

When the doors opened, attendees eagerly headed towards their desired booths with venue maps in hand. Each booth had interpreters to facilitate communication between the brewers and the guests. Many attendees were fluent in Japanese and engaged in enthusiastic conversations about sake with the brewers. Seeing the participants’ enthusiasm and love for sake firsthand, and hearing their many questions, filled us with pride.

We were particularly impressed by the high level of sake knowledge among the Korean attendees. As we assisted at various booths, we received questions like, “What rice is this sake made from?” and “What type of yeast is used?” One attendee shared, “I love the delicate taste of Gohyakumangoku rice, so I’m sampling various sakes made from it.” It was remarkable to see young Koreans enjoying sake not just for its taste but also by exploring its different brands and brewing methods.

Additionally, many young couples came to the event as a date, showing that sake is seen as a stylish drink to be enjoyed with a special partner in Korea. Watching these couples happily discussing which sake to try next was heartwarming, and we hoped that their memories of the Seoul Sake Festival would inspire them to visit Japan next.

In addition to helping at the booths, we took many photos with visitors in an area filled with sake barrels. Like last year, many people lined up to take pictures with us, creating wonderful moments of connection through sake with young Koreans across borders.

Some visitors mentioned that they had taken photos with us last year and were looking forward to doing so again, which was incredibly gratifying. It was heartwarming to hear that they were excited to take a photo with Miss SAKE once more this year.

Talk Session with Mrs. Kondo


We had the honor of participating in a talk show about sake with Mrs. Junko Kondo. This stage event, which resumed this year after a hiatus due to COVID-19, made me quite nervous. However, the warm atmosphere created by Mrs. Kondo, who has been the host of the Seoul Sake Festival for many years, helped me relax and speak in Korean. When I greeted the audience with “こんにちは!” (“Hello!”), they responded with a cheerful “こんにちはー!” (“Hello!”), creating a moment of connection and unity with the Korean attendees.

In the first half, we discussed our ways of enjoying sake and the new aspects of sake we discovered through our activities as Miss SAKE. Since there were young women in their 20s from Korea in the audience, we also touched upon the beauty benefits of sake.

In the second half, we answered questions from the audience. The questions covered a wide range of topics, including the best situations for drinking sake, what sparked their interest in sake, and how to gather information for visiting sake breweries. These inquiries demonstrated the high level of interest in sake among the attendees, which made us very happy.

Additionally, we reflected on the various encounters and experiences we had over the past year since being selected as the Grand Prix and Runner-Up. Sharing these stories with the audience was a wonderful opportunity for us as well.

Following our talk show, the comedy duo “Nihonshu” performed a manzai act in Korean.

I had the chance to watch, and their performance was hilarious even in Korean. I laughed so hard with the Korean gentleman sitting next to me that we had tears in our eyes. The crowd burst into laughter at their catchphrase “Hai, Daiginjo!” which underscored the high level of sake knowledge among young Koreans who could enjoy humor centered around sake.

The Seoul Sake Festival 2024 received extensive media coverage in Korea.

Additionally, you can view a wonderful video summary of the event on the official website.

Through this event, we once again realized that enjoying delicious sake is made possible by the involvement and tremendous efforts of many people, starting with the producers. Sake production involves carefully cultivated sake rice by farmers, the delicate techniques of the Toji (master brewers), and the hard work of brewery workers. Furthermore, the meticulous handling by distributors and retailers is crucial in delivering sake to consumers. It is through the hands of many people that we can enjoy such wonderful sake.

It is also important to spread awareness about the delicacy of sake to ensure that it is transported and managed with the same care overseas as it is in Japan. We would like to express our gratitude to the Korean sake retailers for their meticulous quality control, ensuring that sake can be enjoyed in its best state by Korean consumers.

Thank you very much for allowing us to participate in this wonderful sake event. We look forward to your continued guidance and support.

 

2023 Miss SAKE Japan Kotoko Yamada

2023 Miss SAKE Runner-Up Hikari Saito

 

We have taken some photos of the booths and would like to share them with you.

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