Swordplay, spirits and a whole lot of saké

by: Adrian Shipley,

You've got to spill a little wine to protect an entire winery. That, in short, was the message of the Rev. Koichi Barish, a Shinto priest who came to Forest Grove on Saturday to officiate at the traditional blessing of the the Kura at SakéOne winery. Barish, of the Tsubaki Grand Shrine in Granite Falls, Wash., explained that during the ceremony, 'bad spirits' are offered saké, so that they will be appeased and leave the brewery, ensuring that the coming year's batches of the fermented nectar are not harmed.

SakéOne President Steve Boone, who this year opened up the traditional blessing to the public, said the event offers a chance to reflect on the 'heart' of his business, which he said is the group of people who help him transform the 'heart' of a grain of rice into a beverage that has sacred roots. The 45-minute ceremony was followed by saké tastings and performances by Portland Taiko drummers and Obukan Kendo Club, which demonstrated the Japanese martial art of fencing.