May 30

Justin’s Japan: The Joy of Sake

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By JQ magazine editor Justin Tedaldi (CIR Kobe-shi, 2001-02) for Shukan NY Seikatsu. Justin has written about Japanese arts and entertainment for JETAA since 2005. For more of his articles, click here.

Returning to New York in June for its 15th annual celebration, The Joy of Sake hosts the world’s largest sake tasting outside Japan, with a record 513 competition-level sakes and 19 top restaurants serving the best in traditional and contemporary Asian cuisine.

While statistics show that sake is losing ground to beer in Japan, it continues to make inroads in the U.S., especially among drink-savvy New Yorkers.

“The best showcase of this in the U.S. is The Joy of Sake,” said Joy of Sake board member Chris Johnson (Oita-ken, 1992-95), an experienced sommelier and restauranteur whose time in Japan began in the early ’90s as a participant of the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme. Also known as the Sake Ninja, Johnson adds, “As a JET alum, having the opportunity to work with the national beverage of Japan is an honor and truly important.”

A beverage that can be paired with foods as diverse as sushi, chocolate and even pizza, sake lovers will also be able to sample exclusive appetizers at the event from some of New York’s most distinguished eateries, including Morimoto, Sakagura and Momofuku Ssäm Bar, enhancing the appreciation of the luster that fine sakes add to a meal.

A brewer’s technique and commitment help determine a great sake, and over 200 sakes not available in the U.S. are featured in this year’s lineup, including more than 100 gold award winners from the 2019 U.S. National Sake Appraisal.

“It’s safe to say,” said Joy of Sake founder Chris Pearce, “that New York has never seen a sake event like this.”

Experience The Joy of Sake Friday, June 21 from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at Metropolitan Pavilion, 125 West 18th Street. For more information and tickets, visit

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