Yoshi no Gawa Sake Tasting in Richmond


This Friday, October 17th, you can meet in person, Koji Kawakami, president of Yoshi no Gawa Sake Brewery from Niigata, Japan. He will be making a special appearance at Toku Restaurant in Richmond, BC, pouring some special sakes for customers. The restaurant, located at Lansdowne Mall, will be offering specials upon purchase of a bottle of Yoshi no Gawa to celebrate Kawakami-san’s visit. Above, is a photo of me with Kawakami-san (L) and Patrick Ellis (R), president of Blue Note Wines & Spirits, Canadian importer of Yoshi no Gawa.

Kawakami-san tells me that his brewery was established in 1548, and is the 5th oldest continuously operating sake brewery in Japan. They have never stopped producing in over 460 years! That’s pretty amazing–and something tells me they have a pretty good handle on making sake because of it. Because of its long-standing history, Yoshi no Gawa is also Niigata prefecture’s oldest brewery, so in fact, they are pioneers in this famous sake-producing region.

Kawakami-san will be in attendance starting at 6pm. Please say hello to him and taste some of his lovely sake.




Yoshi no Gawa Sake Dinner at Minami


There’s lots happening sake-wise at the end of this month, so please get out there and taste some of the great sakes that are available in town!

One event of note is a sake dinner at Yaletown’s Minami Restaurant which features the President of Yoshi no Gawa Sake Brewery, Koji Kawakami. He along with Minami’s sake specialist, Miki Ellis, will guide you through some sake basics, whilst tasting a variety of this Niigata brewery’s elegant lineup of sake. With your sakes, Minami is planning fabulous and delicious food pairings, specially designed for this tasting–yet another highlight to the already delicious evening.

Founded in 1548, Yoshi no Gawa is the oldest brewery in Niigata prefecture and Kawakami-san is the 19th generation president. With such a long and storied history, I’m certain you’ll be able to taste the precision and pageantry of Yoshi no Gawa’s sake brewing with each sip.

Sounds like fun! If you’re interested, please make sure you call Minami at 604.685.8080 to reserve a spot. The cost is $125 per person plus tax and gratuity.

Hope to see you there!



sake education council’s canadian advanced sake specialists

What a great night at Ki Restaurant, where the Canadian contingent of the Sake Education Council (SEC) met up in the same room for the first time ever. There is actually one more person on the list who was not present, although he doesn’t live in Canada full-time, but Paul Tanguay, I did not forget you are a true red/white maple-leafed Canadian!

The sakes, paired with Ki’s amazing food, were outstanding. Great educational component too, with Patrick Ellis, president of Blue Note Wine & Spirits, importer of great sake, and Koji Kawakami, 19th generation president of Yoshi no Gawa Brewery, making a jovial, entertaining sake duo.

Check out my photos of each course with pairing here.


a short blurb on sake masu

yoshi no gawa sake masu by tangerinee
yoshi no gawa sake masu, a photo by tangerinee on Flickr.

masu are the wooden square boxes that were traditionally used as a measurement tool in japan.

a full masu is equal to 180ml or what is called a ‘go’.

masu were used to measure important commodities at markets, such as rice, soy sauce, or sake. since people were familiar using the measuring box, it became popular at restaurants to serve sake in masu, so patrons would have no doubt of the amount of sake they were receiving from the proprietor.

four ‘go’ is equivalent to 720ml which is still a standard bottle size in sake production. also known as ‘yongo-bin’

ten ‘go’ is equal to 1.8 L, which are the gigantic sake bottles you might’ve seen at some izakayas. these are also commonly known as ‘issho-bin’.

Yoshi no Gawa Sake Dinner at Ki Modern Japanese & Bar

sake galore by tangerinee
sake galore, a photo by tangerinee on Flickr.

October 1st is almost upon us–well, what’s the significance of that date, you ask?! It’s International Sake Day! October 1st was designated Sake Day in Japan back in the 70’s. Officially it’s the first day of sake brewing season, as our favourite rice based tipple is traditionally brewed from Fall to late Winter/early Spring–when conditions are optimal and controlled for making sake.

We have a lot of events coming up in the city, sake-wise. This is great and I’m so glad we are finally seeing more interest in sake, as it is deserves more attention!

Join me Thursday, October 11th at Ki for a very cool sake dinner featuring Koji Kawakami, 19th Generation President of Yoshi no Gawa Sake Brewery, Niigata Prefecture. Yoshi no Gawa is Niigata’s oldest brewery–this prefecture has 97 breweries, so they are serious about their sake. This pride comes from their reputation for ‘like-water sake’, as I like to call it. Very dangerous as it is so smooth, it tastes like water. Given that, there can be lots of depth in Niigata sake as well. Yoshi no gawa has some incredible selections that I’m excited to try again, paired with Niigata-inspired food from Ki’s Chef Yoshi Tabo.

I took the attached photo in Niigata City where Sake no Jin takes places every year. It is probably the largest sake tasting I have ever been to in terms of sheer size and attendees. Over 80,000 people come through the Toki Messe convention centre over a weekend in March. Every single sake brewery–97 of them–in Niigata participates. It’s a sake spectacle and it’s a primo event for a sake lover. But I am digressing, I just wanted to illustrate that Niigata has a great reputation for sake and the event at Ki this month with Yoshi no Gawa is not to be missed!

Price is $150 which includes tax and tip. There will be a reception at 6:30pm and dinner begins at 7:00pm.

If you are interested in joining or have any queries, please contact Ki directly: Chris Irwin – 604.609.0600 or vancouver@kijapanese.com .

I hope to see you there!

Kanpai and Happy Sake Day!