The Japanese and Sake: RICE WINE

Sake is made from rice. Kõji (malted rice) and water are added to steamed rice, and this mixture placed in a vat is left to ferment with yeast for 20 days. After fermentation, the mixture is ready for pressing, filtration, and heating.

Sake, often called Seishu (lit. clear sake), is a fermented alcoholic beverage made from rice. Of all brewed alcoholic beverages, it is the highest proof. this has been a Japanese alcoholic beverage since ancient times.

Sake has a wine-like aroma

When drunk cold, good sake has a taste similar to fine quality wine. As a result, there are some kinds of sake that have won prizes when submitted for exhibition at European wine competitions. Some kinds of sake are mass-produced and sold throughout Japan. However, there are local sake breweries in every region across the country, which make their respective characteristic tastes based on the quality of rice and water and differences in brewing processes.

This is called “Jizake” (locally brewed sake) and has played the main role in the recent sake boom. With the alcohol concentration at around 15%, it is comparatively easy to drink, resulting in increasing numbers of female fans.


It is often said that where there is good water there is good sake. Nada in Hyōgo and Fushimi in Kyoto are well known for their good sake, and the sake of local breweries in various parts of the country has also become popular, much like wines from various vineyards around the world.

Sake is traditionally made in wintertime. In addition to high-quality rice and water, the coldness of winter is also an important factor in making delicious sake. However, most sake now is manufactured in large breweries throughout the year.


Sake and Shintoism

Sake is deeply related to Shintoism and is always a part of Shinto ceremonies. It is also an indispensable beverage for ceremonial occasions in Japanese life.

Sake is essential to Shinto festivals. Festivals are a series of rites when people welcome the kami, entertain them with offerings of all sorts of delicacies and sake, ask for an oracle, drink and eat together a portion of the offerings, and send kami back to the mountains. The way of drinking sake in the old days was to pass a large cup around from person to person. It was believed that drinking from the same cup gave a person a sense of oneness not only with the others but also with kami. Drinking with individual cups is a general custom now, but we sometimes see people exchanging sake cups on some formal occasions even nowadays, carrying on the traditional style of drinking in the old days.


How to drink sake

Kan and reishu

Sake is normally heated to body temperature before drinking, a serving style called kan. Sometimes it is served cold according to the season or preference. Many kinds of reishu (lit. cool sake) are available now.


O-shaku (pouring sake for others)

As it was customary in the old days for people to drink sake together in a group and exchange sake cups on formal occasions, it is thought to be inappropriate to pour for oneself even today. Rather, one should pour for others.

This is not only for sake , but is general practice for beer as well.


Are Japanese people easy to get drunk?

”Drinking seems to be important in Japanese men's society.”

It is said that Japanese people are constitutionally more sensitive to alcohol and more likely to get drunk than Europeans and Americans.
Drinking with colleagues and friends is also thought to help improve relationships in everyday life. I think Japanese people can also become flanker when they drink and express their thoughts.

As a result, people may drink too much and fall into what is called a "drunk paradise," but these days, drunkenness seems to reflect a lack of self-control and is seen as a problem.

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