Enjoying sake for a good cause at LTSC’s “Sake on the Rocks.”

Little Tokyo Service Center’s (LTSC) 14th annual fundraiser, “Sake on the Rocks,” returned in person on Aug. 5 at the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center.

With the support of many sponsors, donors, volunteers, 21 vendors, and over 700 guests, LTSC raised over $345,000 for its programs and initiatives that empower people and communities in need.

This year’s event honored former LTSC board member Tad Yoshimura in memoriam, Wesley Health Centers (JWCH) and Citi Foundation for their invaluable support of LTSC’s mission.

“It was wonderful to be finally back in person after three long years. I’d like to give a huge shout-out to all of our supporters who helped us to sustain important programs and initiatives for people and places,” said Erich Nakano, executive director of LTSC.

After the main event opened with a barrel-breaking ceremony (kagami-wari) and celebratory kanpai toast, guests enjoyed a fun night filled with food, drinks and community spirit. The outdoor event featured sake from 20 Japanese breweries as well as food and beverages from 21 local businesses.

“We’ve just been overwhelmed by the variety of sake that they have here. That huge amount of selection – we’re very surprised and very impressed. It’s beyond my expectations; just so great to be outdoors with so many people,” remarked guest Kristy Huang-Arai, enjoying the selection of sake provided by LTSC’s longtime partner Mutual Trading Co.

The program opened with a kagmi-biraki ceremony using Sho Chiku Bai sake barrels.

Guests’ all-inclusive tickets included unlimited food and beverage samples, access to knowledgeable sake sommeliers (including sake brewers who flew in from Japan for the event), a live DJ, and entertainment from an “Iron Chef”-style shochu cocktail contest.

The cocktail contest champion, Hamed Tavajohi, market leader for Los Angeles at U.S. Bank, a major sponsor for this year’s “Sake on the Rocks,” shared, “The Japanese American community is such an integral part of Los Angeles. For [U.S. Bank] to continue to connect and reinvest in the community is one of our pillars of success. [‘Sake on the Rocks’] is something I look forward to and I hope to come back again next year.” 

Nicole Arca, development manager at East West Players, a Community Sponsor for Sake on the Rocks, reflected, “I think LTSC is a home to so many people and I think without it there would be an empty hole in the [Japanese American] and Asian American community. I think LTSC is such a big unifier for everyone here and it’s really important especially as L.A. continues to get developed. LTSC is definitely a pillar, it’s a staple.”

View photos of “Sake on the Rocks 2022” on LTSC’s Facebook page.

View the “Sake on the Rocks 2022” event video on LTSC’s YouTube channel.

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