Meet Michael Tremblay, Toronto’s very own Sake Samurai.
Any sake brewer will tell you that, at least from their rice-and-water-and-nothing-else point of view, the most important of all Shinto shrines is Matsuo Taisha, established in the year 701 on the site of a spring of unusually pure water in the future western outskirts of Kyoto. It was there that, on Sept. 29, the Junior Council of the Japan Sake Brewers’ Association inducted their latest round of new members, including Michael Tremblay, into the rarefied order of the Sake Samurai.
“The ceremony was quite short,” explained Michael Tremblay, who was there among the honoured. “It began with an old Shinto purification ceremony. Then there was the induction ceremony, conducted by a Shinto priest. There’s a priestess waving a wand with paper lightning bolts. You offer a branch to the shrine. You bow twice, you clap twice, you bow once more. There’s even a song.”
And with that, the sake sommelier from Ki Modern Japanese in Toronto’s financial district added Sake Samurai to a list of credentials that already included Advanced Sake Professional, along with a Level 3 Award in Sake from the London-based Wine & Spirit Education Trust.
There are but 70 Sake Samurai the world over, each of them recognized for excelling at three tenets of sake dedication: loving sake, learning more about sake and Japanese culture, and spreading the good word on both. Or, as Tremblay puts it, “doing my thing.”
Kanpai, Michael, and carry on.