Tokyo Jizake Strolling (Small and Medium-Size Enterprises Summit) 

By Ryuji Takahashi

Tokyo officially welcomed summer in July. I exhibited a booth to showcase sake at a social gathering during the Small and Medium-Size Enterprises Summit 2023 (The 28th Tokyo Management Research Conference), as requested by the All Japan Committee of the Associations of Small-and Medium-Size Enterprises that aids small and medium-sized business owners to interact with owners of companies in other industries to encourage members to consult with each other, study together, and create competitive companies and business environments.

Approximately thirty branch offices by region are normally active, mostly within their branch offices. Once a year, however, a branch office in Tokyo gathers to rent out the thirtieth floor of the Shinjuku NS building and invite approximately 300 members to participate, deepen friendships, and learn together during the Small and Medium-Size Enterprises Summit.  

Various study sessions and seminars are held throughout the day that concludes with a social gathering. I was requested to exhibit and serve sake to share my expertise on sake during this social gathering. I was grateful for this opportunity as I had no lecture or exhibit at large-scale events to attend due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Shinjuku NS Building was close by, only fifteen minutes from my sake shop. 

I prepared ten 1,800 ml bottles of summer sake products and arranged for a sales representative to bring Nagatoro Gura by Fujisaki Sobei Shoten as the special sake of the day and entered the venue. In the largest conference room on the thirtieth floor was a large booth prepared as the main feature of the social gathering. I was surprised by the large scale of this social gathering, but also felt excitement I hadn’t felt in a while.   

Guests gradually started to fill the venue and the social gathering kicked off at 6:00 PM. Bottled beer was placed at each buffet-style table where guests were seated, with catered snacks placed at the center of the venue. Wary to approach the catered snacks at first, a crowd quickly formed where I introduced ten brands of sake products as I poured glasses.  

I glanced over my shoulder to see a crowd gather before the sake brewery and sake booths packed with guests, who asked questions about sake and my sake shop with some questions directed at me, which helped to advertise our business effectively. This opportunity helped me to observe and gather data on which sake guests select at first glance based on introductions, which sake captivated the guests’ attention, and sample repeatedly, valuable information for future product development with sake breweries. The executive director who organized this event seemed pleased, and the exhibit ended with success. I returned to the shop, cleaned up, and happily headed out for a drink to celebrate.