My wine school is located in the middle of an urban office area on a small peak called Atagoyama. Unlike the rest of the area, Atagoyama is a bit nostalgic and there is a small statue on the way to the school like the one in this picture.
It is called Ojizo-san and it's a statue of a god or a guardian that watches over those who pass by on the street year after year. I assume It is a bit like the totem poles found along the Pacific Northwest in North America. I bet many students of the past paused and prayed to this little statue, requesting that all sorts of wishes be granted.
I don't ask favors of the gods, or my ancestors, because I think I'm the one who has to make my wishes come true. But I like to put my palms together and pray to these peaceful looking things, simply because the act of doing so calms my mind. I feel nothing wrong with showing some respect to the guardians of the land.
I mentioned in an earlier blog that I was in the same banquet hall when Mr. Tasaki won the World Sommelier Contest twenty years ago. Yes, two decades have past. A recent news letter from my wine school announced that there will be a twenty year anniversary party held this month to commemorate Mr. Tasaki's 1995 win.
Although I am currently attending his school, I've never actually met him. There must be tons of people who want to celebrate this 20 year anniversary, but I doubted that I'd know anyone there and decided not to go. Nah, I'll pass....
I told my best friend about the party and this friend said to me " Hey, what are the chances of being at the contest 20 years ago, being a student of his wine school right now and have the opportunity to celebrate his 20 year anniversary? I think you should go, meet with him and take a picture with him! "
Hummm..... I knew my friend was right but I still wasn't sure if I should go at that point.
The next day, I had the wine class again and this time the topic was about Spain. My teacher picked up this bottle, the one in the photo above, and told us a story about this wine.
It's a Spanish wine and was the very wine used for the blind tasting portion of the contest 20 years ago. Mr.Tasaki not only got the appellation, brand name, and the vintage of this wine correct, he also described it as Reserva, and won the contest. While I listened to the story my teacher was telling, my mind traveled back to 20 years ago. Now I remembered Mr. Tasaki's voice through the microphone, announcing the appellation, the name of the wine and the vintage, together with a bit of goose bumps on my skin and a feeling of excitement.
What a time to get to hear a story like that, when I wasn't sure if I should go to the party or not. I felt like the Ojizo san was pushing my back.
So I'm going! I'll be at the party celebrating and hopefully I'll be able to take a picture with him!