Posted by Heliocentrism on January 2, 2015
Saturday, October 10, 2014
I’ll drive home
Mark and I tried to organise a group to visit this festival. I don’t like alcohol, so I was not planning on drinking any sake. I would have been the designated driver for the group. But, getting our group together was like herding cats. Rather than spending half the day waiting for this one and that one, we just did a “we’ll meet you there” and didn’t worry too much about the group.
We never did see any of our friends there. They showed up long after we arrived. By then the place was so crowded, we didn’t bother looking for anyone. We had a great time anyway.
Mark was thinking about getting a ticket to enter Sake Square. It cost 2,100 yen to enter and once inside all the sake was free. There was sake from all over Japan.
But I would not be allowed to enter unless I too paid 2,100 yen, even if I did not drink anything. Mark would have to go in alone. He peaked inside to see if it was worth it. He could see the vendors and the long lines of people wanting samples. “The lines are too damn long!”
Since there were plenty of other sake samples to be had, Mark chose to stay out of Sake square.
All along the street there were vendor selling food, meats on sticks, and alcohol. Mark made it his mission to buy any sample that was 100 Yen or less. There were also several free samples, but he didn’t seem to like many of those.
Many of the free samples came with a short tour of a sake distillery. Everything was in Japanese, but you could pretty much figure out what most things were. But, I don’t really think anyone really cared that much about how the sake was made; they just wanted some free booze.
I stuck to the non-alcoholic treats. There were plenty of those, but none were free. I tried apple on a stick for the first time. I’d had only heard of the treat from the hand-clap game. The first line of the poem goes, “Apple on a stick, makes me sick.” I wondered if it would in fact make me sick.
It kinda did.
There were a lot of emergency workers standing by. Every so often you would hear whistling and see a group of EMTs rushing through the crowd with a gurney or a wheelchair to help some poor drunken soul. There were ambulances parked throughout the festival ready to take off for the hospital at a moment’s notice.
Most of the evacuated came from Sake Square. Several people staggered out of there and fell asleep near the exit. But, some had to be taken out with help from medical staff.
I was surprised at how many kids were at the sake festival. But I guess, no one wants to be left at home on any festival day. There were plenty of things for kids to see and do. They, of course, were not allowed to drink any sake.
The best thing about any Japanese festival, in my opinion, is the meat on the stick. If a festival can be rated on the size and taste of the stick meat, then this was the best festival I’ve ever been to.
How to get there:
You can enter Japan by plane or boat. Though, the number of boats going to Japan from other countries has gone down significantly.
Americans get 90-day visas to Japan at the port of entry. Check with your nearest Japanese embassy or consulate for visa information.
- Emergency Numbers:
- Police 110
- Ambulance and Fire 119
- Important phone numbers to know while in Japan
- Comfort Woman
- The Commoner
- Empire of the Sun
- Flyboys: A True Story of Courage
- Geisha, a Life
- Ghost Soldiers: The Forgotten Epic Story of World War II’s Most Dramatic Mission
- The Last Concubine
- Memoirs of a Geisha
- Tears in the Darkness: The Story of the Bataan Death March and Its Aftermath
- Tokyo Vice: An American Reporter on the Police Beat in Japan
- What I Talk About When I Talk About Running
- Be careful what over the counter drugs you bring into Japan. Actifed, Sudafed, Vicks inhalers, and Codeine are prohibited.
- InternationalATMs are really hard to find; more so if you aren’t in a big city. Many places in Japan do not use credit cards. Take cash and call your bank to ask whatATMs or banks in Japan will work with your cash card.
- ATMs have opening hours. Usually 9:00-18:00 (They have better work hours than most business men and women here.)
- The Post Office bank seems to work with the most international cards.
- You can get a Japan Railway, pass which saves you a lot of money on the trains, but you can only buy it before you get to Japan and you cannot be a resident of Japan. (I don’t have more information about it because I’ve only ever lived in Japan; I’ve never been a tourist here.)
- Coordinates 34°25’35.1″N 132°44’35.1″E
It costs about ¥800 and 1 hour to take the train in from Hiroshima city.
- This city has a long tradition of sake making.
- Coordinates 34°25’51.9″N 132°44’36.3″E
- Go to Saijo Station
- Park at a nearby mall (Muji Youme Town) for free
- 34°25’38.7″N 132°45’02.0″E
- It’s a 12 minute walk to the festival
12-3 Saijo-honmachi, Higashihiroshima-shi 739-0011
- To get into Sake Square
- 2,100 Yen – Adult (1,600 Yen if you buy a ticket in advanced)
- free for accompanying kids
- If you leave you have to pay to re-enter
- The second Saturday & Sunday (2 days) in October every year.
- The festival is near Saijo Station.
- The festival itself is free, but to enter Sake Square, a special section with samples of sake from all over Japan, it cost 2,100 Yen.
- You can get a discount if you buy your ticket in advanced.
- You can buy this ticket at some convenience stores.
- Kids and other minors are only allowed in Sake Square if they are with their parents.
- Japan has a ZERO tolerance for drinking and driving. If you have had any alcohol to drink, you are not allowed to drive.