It’s Time to Snake, Rattle and Roll


Sake San Jose 2013 is just days away and tickets are still eligible with Early Bird pricing, which is available until May 19th. In this 2013 Year of the Snake, come join us as we meander through Japantown as the sake pours like water. This year features 26 pouring stations and 34 sakes for participants to sample, including  old favorites and new ones to crave. New to sake or ready to turn your taste for sake into a passion? This year, the event also features 10-15 minute Sake 101 classes from Jesse Pugach, a sake specialist from Southern Wine and Spirits, so you can shed your sake-novice skin. These sessions have limited seating, but are open to all participants on a first-come seating basis.

Opening ceremonies will officially kick-off the event featuring a traditional cask breaking ceremony.  Kagamiwari (cask breaking ceremony) is a Japanese tradition in which the circular lid of a sake cask is broken with a wooden mallet to celebrate an important event. San Jose Taiko will be providing a special performance at the opening ceremonies, and there will be some special pourers at this event, including television personalities Rick Quan and Robert Handa.

Once again, State of Grace’s renowned tattoo artist, Horitaka has graciously contributed his talents for the event’s logo design.  This unique design can be found on 2013 Sake San Jose merchandise which will be available for purchase online and on the day of the event.

The Event with the Dragon Tattoo

Rabbits, and Tigers, now Dragons, oh my. Horitaka’s design for this year’s 7th Annual Sake San Jose event is subtly vibrant, with an extended claw reminiscent of hands reaching for the sake from regions all over Japan. The Year of the Dragon hints at progression, perseverance, and good fortune. Its strongest element is Water, an apt image for sake flowing to promote Yu-Ai Kai Senior Service and San Jose’s Japantown. T-shirts with the dragon design will be available for purchase, or you can order a VIP ticket now, which includes admission, express check-in, and a Year of the Dragon tee. Time to get fired up for sake!

Clear Skies and Pouring Rai…Sake

For sake’s heaven….a great weather forecast for the event tomorrow night. While it may be on the chilly side, there is little chance of showers, so only sake will be pouring. A clear sky, light breeze, the sound of a taiko drum beating in the distance and the gurgle of flowing sake. It sounds like a wonderful night in beautiful Japantown. Come and raise a glass to Yu-Ai Kai with us!!

Bookmark and Share

Let’s Be Taste Buds

A participant two years ago mentioned that one great thing about Sake San Jose is the mix of people from different generations and walks of life. It was mentioned that seeing old friends and making new ones was always something to look forward to.

While this will inevitably continue this year for some, you could also extend that concept to the sakes we’re literally bringing to the table. In addition to adding new sakes for this year’s event (E.g. TY KU, etc.), Sake San Jose also welcomes back participant favorites, such as Hakutsuru, Joto Sake, Sake One, Takara, Ozeki and Gekkeikan. All the sakes have uniqueness and nuances that draw people to discern their favorite profiles and also illuminate how diverse and (sometimes minutely) distinctive the world of sake can be. Whether you’re a die-hard sake fan (ichi…ni…san…!!) or spiritedly curious, we’re sure you’ll find your palate’s niche.

There will be 25 pouring stations and 40 sakes flowing down Jackson Avenue, from Western Contract Furniture up near 6th Street, to the James Akiyama Wellness Center south of 4th street. As with last year, Jackson Avenue will become a Raffle Road for all participants, where completing tastings leads to a raffle drawing for a mixed box of sake. So come on down!! We can’t wait to see you.

Bookmark and Share

The Nu Kid on the Block

Sake San Jose is pleased to welcome a new sake to the line-up for our 6th annual event on May 26th.  TY KU sake is the mastermind behind an award-winning collection of sakes with a twist. Featuring natural ingredients, dynamic flavor profiles, and sleek presentation, TY KU sakes invite drinkers to immerse in sensation with every sip. TY KU also aims to inspire taking sake tasting to a new level, with fresh sake cocktail ideas and sake education.

Welcome to Sake San Jose, TY KU. Pour. Sip. Elevate. |


Bookmark and Share

Premium sake? Yes, please, Tengu

As Sake San Jose 2011 nears (!!May 26th!!), tickets for this year’s Akiyama Premium Sake Tasting are selling quickly. At this premiere event hosted at the new James Akiyama Wellness Center, premium sakes will be showcased in tastings led by sake and industry experts, along with a “Fusion Feast” prepared by Chef Derik from Tengu Sushi & Catering. (Hungry? Think tuna yuke w/ sesame sauce and salmon sashimi drizzled w/ yuzu ponzu and hot sesame oil, to start).

The tickets for this premium event are $80, which include both the private tasting event and the public event on Jackson St. As with the regular event tickets, 100% of the proceeds directly benefit Yu-Ai Kai Senior Services, a nonprofit senior center, in Japantown. We hope to see you there!!

Update (5/17/2011)!! Ever heard of “legs for days?” Not quite the same,but close: recently found that Chuka Iidako (tender baby octopus, sweet shoyu dressing) & Tako Wasabi (octopus salad with wasabi) are on the menu too. Kanpai Hachi-soku!

Bookmark and Share

We’ve Got Your Ticket to ‘Bibe

Sake San Jose 2011 Tickets Now on Sale!

Sake San Jose is back to celebrate, Year of the Rabbit style. Join us for one of the most anticipated fundraisers of the year, as once again we take to the streets of San Jose to sample over 25 sakes and get a taste of the prolific food, flavor and culture of one of the three remaining Japantowns in the United States.

Sakes made in Japan and the US, such as daiginjo, ginjo and junmai grades will be available for tasting at over 25 Japantown businesses, providing a great opportunity for connoisseurs and novices alike to sample and learn about a variety of sakes. The sixth annual SSJ will also debut an Akiyama Premium Sake Tasting, where industry experts will guide more ardent tasters through a special collection of premium sakes and accompanying “small plates” in the James Akiyama Wellness Center’s Sakura Room. These limited-quantity tickets include participation to the regular SSJ event as well.

Thank you for your continued support of Yu-Ai Kai and its healthy aging programs. For more information, please visit or


Follow the White Rabbit

Since relocating to Japantown San Jose in 2009, the State of Grace tattoo studio and its internationally renowned artists have quickly become an integral part of our tight-knit community.

Last year, State of Grace founder, Takahiro “Horitaka” Kitamura, graciously accepted a request to help create an exclusive design for our Sake San Jose tshirts.This year, in keeping with the zodiac theme that he introduced in 2010, Horitaka has created an eye-catching, spunky design for the Year of the Rabbit. We are very excited to promote this design on our 2011 tshirt, which will be available to purchase soon.

Also for this year’s event, Horitaka has enlisted one of his artists, Kenji “Horiken” Hori, to contribute an original watercolor painting to Sake San Jose. Horiken is an artist skilled in hand tattooing with over 15 years experience, who immigrated to the United States to practice traditional hand tattooing here. A stunning watercolor painting was hand-delivered to Yu-Ai Kai and will be featured in this year’s event poster.

State of Grace was founded in 2002 by Takahiro “Horitaka” Kitamura as a shop specializing in traditional Japanese tattooing in the United States. In an effort to further share tattoo culture, State of Grace is involved in book publishing, as well as lecture presentations.

State of Grace │ 221 Jackson Street, SJ 95112 │ 408.441.0770

More Sakes for 2010

By James Bailon

For the 5th Annual Sake San Jose, the number of sake stations has increased this year to 29…which means more Japantown sites to hit (see the New Businesses post) and new sakes to try, including the earthy Kasumitsuru Kimoto Extra Dry, rich Kenbishi, and creamy Mizubasho. What’s going to be your favorite sake this year?

New Sakes for 2010

Mizubasho Taiheikai Kasumitsuru Kimoto Extra Dry
Mizuho Kuromatsu Kenbishi Banryu Kuro-Ninki Ippin Junmai Ginjo

For the 5th Annual Sake San Jose, the number of sake stations has increased this year to 29…which means more Japantown sites to hit (see New Businesses post) and new sakes to try, including the earthy Kasumitsuru Kimoto Extra Dry, rich Kenbishi and Creamy Mizubasho.

Bookmark and Share

It’s just…a little Crush…

By Linda Ueda

Meet Lonnie Ferguson of ORANGE CRUSH STUDIOS

Browse Yelp’s comments about Lonnie at Orange Crush Studios and it will not take long to appreciate the 5-star reviews written enthusiastically by his growing and loyal clientele. Not only has Lonnie worked behind the chair as a successful stylist, he is also an educator for Paul Mitchell and Redken, and currently works as a hair and makeup artist for The San Francisco Opera/Ballet and Opera San Jose. His resume also includes time spent as an editorial stylist, runway stylist and theater stylist! Lonnie has trained with industry greats and continues to share his passion for hairdressing with hundreds of students throughout Northern California. We are thrilled that Lonnie will be opening the door of his studio to Sake San Jose 2010!

Bookmark and Share

Meet Lonnie Ferguson of ORANGE CRUSH STUDIOS