The Opening Ceremony of Dojima Sake Brewery took place on September 14th from 11:00 am and was attended by over 250 guests including His Excellency Ambassador Mr. Koji Tsuruoka, Lucy Frazer MP, Mr. Mark Slaughter, Director General for Investment, Dept for International Trade, Professor Mikael Adolphson, Head of Japanese Studies, Cambridge, Mrs. Fumie Yamamura reading a message from HM Consul-General in Osaka, Japan, and Mr. Hara, Design & Brand producer for Dojima Sake Brewery.
The guestlist included top London chefs, sake sommeliers, restaurant and hotel owners and the Mayor and Mayoress of Ely. The Hashimoto family were also out in force with Mr. & Mrs. Hashimoto being joined by all six of their children, all resplendent in traditional hakama and kimonos. The Hakama was made of Sendaihira by Yoshio Koda who is a Living National Treasure and some were donated by Mr Masamune Wada MP. Alongside this magnificent traditional dress were special uniforms for the brewers designed and made by the world famous Michiko Koshino.
The eldest daughter Kumiko Hashimoto gave a moving and heartfelt presentation on the family history and the vision they have for Fordham Abbey and Dojima in the UK. Holding a bottle of each of the sakes aloft, her three sisters took to the stage as she walked the crowd through each one.
This was followed by a celebratory kagami-wari or ceremonial breaking of the sake barrel lead by Ambassador Tsuruoka. Sake was then served in traditional square wooden boxes known as masu which the guests were able to take home with them as well as a special bottle of the Kai sake, emblazoned with calligraphy by the Ambassador himself.
To finish the ceremony there were beautiful performances of tsunami and Stradivarius violin by Kimiko Nakazawa and Tsuzumi and Japanese dance by Kaho Aso.
As if the ceremony and presentations weren’t spectacular enough, guests then had the chance to enjoy a buffet lunch of Wagyu beef by Zen-noh,, Takoyaki by Takomasa, and ramen noodles by Takara.
The whole day was a fully immersive Japanese cultural experience complete with miniature tatami mats from Kentaro Aoyagi and high tech toilets in the brewery from Toto.
But as Kumiko Hashimoto reminded us during her presentation, “you are not in Kyoto, you are in England, and these things are real at Fordham Abbey.”