You might be wondering why this sake brewery in the north has the same name of the once unifier of Japan Toyotomi Hideyoshi. The name comes from “Hiidete（秀でて）” which means “surprisingly” and “Yoshi（良し）” meaning “Good” after several samurai from the Edo period tried the sake. Eventually the workers of the brewery shortened the name to Hideyoshi which turned out to be in coincidence with Toyotomi’s name. Nonetheless, the brewery is not famous because it has an important name, it is actually considered a great sake. With over 300 years of experience, it has earned the armour of many samurai as payments, including the kabuto (helmet) given as a present from Oda Nobunaga passed down to the local governor called Daimyo of Akita who has given it to the brewery as a gift. They have earned swords and many other gifts as presents for how good their sake is. And of course, we had to get a taste for ourselves.After an hour drive to the brewery in Daisen city we were gathered with another 100 people that had signed up for the local event that was taking place there out of 1000 people that signed up. Which roughly translates to, free drinking for 2 hours. If you have ever been to a drinking event in Japan you know it is not only about drinking. The Japanese like to enjoy games and try to win prizes as well and in this case the prizes where 2L bottles of good Sake. Now imagine, drunk people playing games to win prizes that will make you even drunker. That is how the event went.The event began calmly with words from the owners and managers welcoming everyone and talking a little bit of the history of the company. As gifts, everyone was given a Sake cup in a goodie bag and soon after the speech was over, we understood why we needed them. Ladies wearing the robes of the company walked around the lobby pouring Sake to everyone that wanted, and sometimes even if you did not want, they would make sure you would try the sake at least. So eating breakfast and early lunch is very important if you want to drink enough sake to be satisfied. Food was provided for free as well, including sushi and vegetables on the sides with the typical miso soup.
At one point, the whole story became a bit blurry, so I will try my best to put the fun into words. What was the beginning of a quiet event became a full blown out amount of laughing and talking. Even as a foreigner people would come up to me and start asking questions in half drunken Japanese and full on drunken English. Even if we did not understood each other completely, laughing together was enough. When the party was on the way, the games started. You will be surprised by how much is solved with Rock Paper Scissors here in Japan. The idea was to beat the person standing on the stage three times at the game. I think this game would only work in Japan since a high level of sincerity is needed and trust that no one is going to cheat.In the end about 10 bottles of Sake were gifted. At any point in time it is possible to talk to the staff and ask them about the history of the place. They will also show you the gifts they have received over the centuries. A recommended trip for those that want to learn more about Sake and have the possibility to try it.
Written by Alan Roberto Tami