Ikuko Shimizu knows sake
Ikuko Shimizu is enraptured with sake. She recently put her devotion to the test, earning the title of kikisake-shi -- sake specialist -- from the Sake Service Institute and Kikisake Shi Guild in Japan.
Ask her what prompted her to chase this goal and Shimizu says simply, "I love sake."
Shimizu is manager of Kacho, the Japanese restaurant in the Waikiki Parc Hotel. "I wanted to introduce Japanese sake culture to American and Hawaii guests," she says.
Attaining this title is not on the level of becoming a master sommelier in the Western wine world, but it does require several months of study, covering sake production, service, stewardship and sales.
Shimizu says she worked on her certification for six months, taking 12 exams by mail and finishing up with two days of hands-on classes and a final exam in Japan that involved sake tasting.
Kacho says she is the first person in Hawaii to earn the title. Besides studying for the kikisake-shi, Shimizu has toured and researched sake breweries and is a frequent participant in sake events.