Tonari Gumi’s 12th Annual Premium Sake Tasting Night A Great Success!

“Kagami Wari” ceremony

Our 12th Annual Premium Sake Tasting Night held in the elegant grant ballroom at the Coast Coal Harbour Hotel was a tremendous success. MC’d by the ever debonair Aaron McArthur of Global Television, and assisted by the chair of our Sake Tasting Night Committee, the gracious, Heidi Hamano, this year’s event attracted a large attendance of sake aficionados, those who love good food and drink, lovers of Japanese culture and cuisine and supporters of Tonari Gumi. The evening was opened with a bash–literally–as Consul General of Japan, Mr. Seiji Okada; our MC’s Aaron McArthur and Heidi Hamano; Tonari Gumi Chair, Joji Kumagai; JCCA President, Gary Matson; and representing the newly organized, Sake Association, Masa Shiroki, all joined together to break open a cask of sake in what is called a “kagami wari” ceremony.


Vocalist, Ikuko May and drummer, Ron McKay

Vocalist, Tae Maeda

In addition to the outstanding line-up of sakes and great appetizers provided by our generous suppliers and supporters, this year’s program was further enhanced with the presence of two live bands: the Ikuko Quintet with Ikuko May (vocalist), Kenn Nakamine (bass), Ken Kaneda (keyboard), Lawrence Woodall (tenor saxophone & flute), and Ron McKay (drums), and the Tat Quartet with Tatsuhei Fukuda (vocalist), Tae Maeda (keyboard), Kenn Nakamine (bass) and Ron McKay (drums). The two bands provided a medley of jazz, blues and pop songs throughout the evening.

This was a great evening in support of a great cause, the on-going work of Tonari Gumi in assisting the seniors and others in need within the Japanese Canadian community. The coming year will be a very exciting one for Tonari Gumi as we move into our new facilities at 42 West 8th Avenue in Vancouver and continue to expand our activities and services. Thank you once again to our volunteers, sake distributors, restaurants and food suppliers, silent & live auction donors and our two wonderful bands. We look forward to everyone’s on-going support and next year’s 13th Annual Premium Sake Tasting Night.