Spring Awakening at the Annual Shinto Blessing Ceremony at SakéOne
Each spring, SakéOne, located in Forest Grove, Ore., holds a Shinto ritual, or blessing of the kura (brewery). Shinto is a spiritual ceremony, steeped in Japanese tradition, described as a purification rite that celebrates health, prosperity, life and the creative forces of nature.
Saké is an important element in traditional Shinto rituals, and each sakéry has an association with a Shinto shrine. The ceremony at SakéOne was presided by Rev. Koichi Barrish from the traditional Jinja Shinto Shrine, Tsubaki Grand Shrine, located in Granite Falls, Washington.
This year, I was fortunate enough to attend this annual event with writer (and fellow former Las Vegan) Ivy Hover, the Portland-based beverage writer for examiner.com. The ceremony, which included a traditional ritual in Japanese, and a blessing of the four directions – north, south, east, west – of the kura, left me feeling rejuvenated and, well, purified.
After the kura was blessed, the standing-room-only crowd of 200 onlookers toasted in celebration with a saké crafted specifically for the Tsubaki Grand Shrine.
While others were noshing on the delicious spread, Ivy and I went into the tasting room, which was bustling with others who shared in the ritual, to introduce her to SakéOne’s varied selections of premium, organic and herb- and fruit-infused saké. (Read Ivy’s candid review of her tasting experience.)
I eschewed the saké tastings, opting, instead, to try the three sakétinis on the menu for the day (which also happened to be “Saketini Saturday,” which is held at the sakery the third Saturday of each month). Although the names of the drinks escape me, I do remember that were delish, and tasted like liquid candy.
After a couple of hours of saké-inspired spirituality, I had an insatiable craving for sushi. On my way home, I stopped at one of the top sushi spots in the Portland area, Syun Izakaya, located in Hillsboro. Luckily, the lunch crowd was thinning out, and I was able to score a seat at the sushi bar.
I ordered my usual: eel roll (with salmon) and a spicy tuna roll with hot, green tea to wash it down. With saké still on the brain, I perused Syun’s drink menu, which has one of the most impressive saké lists I’ve ever seen. And, in case you are wondering, yes, Syun does carry a selection of saké from SakéOne (under its various labels).
What a fantastic experience it was for a spring day in Washington County: saké, sushi and sunshine!