Frank Kawase greets guests at the virtual Kanagawa SoCal happy hour sake tasting event.

“Hello, Saketonians” — a rousing welcome by President Frank Kawase to the “Sake Tasting Happy Hour“ on May 1.

Three generations tasting and socializing: Jennifer (Yonsei), Alexandra (Gosei), Joan (Sansei). — daughter, granddaughter, mother.

Paul Abe’s idea of combining a sake tasting with a happy hour virtually was executed by the “NextGens” of Kanagawa SoCal, Jennifer Kawase Cuya, Leah Yamamoto, Debbie Sato Valencia and various committees. Moderator was “Mr. Termite Man,” Paul Yamaguchi.

The event started with a short video of the Kenjinkai created by high school student Cooper Cuya and directed by Jennifer Kawase Cuya. Yamaguchi then introduced Atsuko Kanai, who led the tasting of five different sakes. She is the executive vice president of Mutual Trading Company and president of the Sake School of America.

Attending the tasting were special guests Yuichi Hashiba, president and sixth-generation owner of Izumibashi Sake Brewery, who zoomed in from Ebina City, Kanagawa Prefecture; Kayoko Abe, brand ambassador for Izumibashi Sake in the U.S.. who joined from Washington. D.C.; and Richard Watanabe, president of Nanka Kyogikai Kenjinkai.

Each of the guests received a tasting box complete with five two-ounce samples of premium imported Japanese sake, including one sample from Kanagawa Prefecture, and otsumami (Japanese drinking snacks). The tasting boxes were available at six different pick-up locations.

Atsuko Kanai of Mutual Trading Company introduced five sakes.

Kanai led an explanation of making and serving sake. With the tasting she provided details about flavor, clarity, aromatics and optimum ways to best enjoy them. Several questions were directed to the chat room and answered by Kanai, such as “Which glass is best for serving sake?” and “What is the best temperature for serving sake?”

Hashiba graciously invited all participants to a rice planting ceremony, a tour of the brewery with sampling, and Kuramoto Kanto restaurant. where Kanagawa local ingredients are paired with his Izumibashi sake.

The evening provided not only a unique experience of sake tasting but also an opportunity for online socializing. In closing. Kawase thanked the participants and the committee members who energized the event.

The Sake Tasting Happy Hour was brought to a close by Kawase with a wise Japanese saying, “In sake there is truth.”

Tasting box contained sake samples, cups and otsumami.

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