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The Charm of Sake Label

It is serendipity that I come across with Sake recently.


First I was invited to attend the SAKE DAY hosted by Hong Kong Wine & Spirits Writers Association. I have tasted 17 Sake in one-hour tasting session, in which the Sake were divided into four themes, illustrating Sake knowledge including "rice variety", "polished rate", "sweetness" and "class". It was so joyful to learn through tasting in this fantastic event. And then we have the Sake Festival, which I was allowed to taste up to 200 + Sake in a single day!


Japanese culture is always flourishing in Hong Kong and Sake is the upcoming trends in recent years. Just take a walk in a wine shop and you will understand the reason -  compared to the monotonous wine labels, the label of Sake is much more diverse in style and creative. It can be a serous Chinese character with story, on the other hand, showcasing the culture of Japanese manga.


For example, the label of "而今" conveys the message of  “cherish the moment you live”; while the popular “獺祭” actually resembles the interesting habit of Otter, which used to place its prey in an array, which looks like the practice of religious sacrifice.


In Sake Festival I met a series of Sake labels launched by local Japanese restaurant “心燒食堂” , featuring 12 local comic writers such as Siu Hak, Little Thunder, John Ho, etc. It was just awesome!


And if you are a comic fan, I strongly recommend the sake brand "三芳菊" to you. The owner of the brewery Mamiya Ryoichiro, is actually the descendant of Hachaseka Nakanatsu, which was the admiral of the legendary Toyotomi Hideyoshi. He himself is a big comic fan and also a fan of the band “Velvet Underground”. This may explains the fantastic labels of its Sake, which includes colorful insect, fish and beasts, or cartoon-style characters portraits. And as a big basketball fan, my favorite Sake is of course the label of “三井之壽” , which resembles the jersey of Shohoku Team and has the jersey number of the charcter Mitsui Hisashi- No.14 printed on the label. It is definitely my must-have collection.



首先是獲邀出席香港酒評人協會的SAKE DAY,雖說是小規模品酒會,但參加者倒不少,短短一個多小時品嚐了現場十七款酒。主辦單位更特意分為四個區域,分別以「米種」、「精米步合」、「日本酒度」和「級數」為主題,一邊飲一邊領會各種知識;愉快學習實在是人生一樂事;再來是敝刊主辦的清酒節,承蒙多個日本酒商支持,今年參與的酒款多達200+,作為現場工作人員一整天待在會場,當然把握機會飲個夠!



譬如「而今」,是寄語「不要被過去或未來拘束,要珍惜當下努力活著」;很受歡迎的「獺祭」,原來是表達「水獺」常將捕捉到的魚陳列在岸邊,景象好似「祭魚」;在這次清酒節中讓人眼前一亮的發現,是本地日式餐廳<心燒食堂>聯合十二名本地插畫家如小克、門小雷、JOHN HO等,設計的一系列銘柄,各自表現自己畫風和意境,實在賞心悅目。


如果你是漫畫迷,我強烈推薦一個清酒品牌 ——「三芳菊」。酒藏老闆馬宮亮一郎,是豐臣秀吉的死忠武將蜂須賀小六部屬後裔,算是名門之後,也是漫畫迷和迷幻名團 Velvet Underground 的粉絲,所以旗下凡清酒銘柄也甚具玩味,當中有不少蟲魚鳥獸、或漫畫風格的人物畫像,看看已心動。而身為籃球迷的我,最喜愛的當然要數「福岡三本柱」之一的三井之壽,其酒標以湘北籃球隊球衣紅色為背景,更印有「三井壽」的14號背號,單是用來收藏都值得。