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Eating and Drinking in Japan

Japanese Food

Last update June 8, 2019


Sake  さけ, 酒

Japanese Rice Wine

sake sake How about a fruity, sweetish type for Hanami (cherry blossom viewing), a dry and sharp kind for a summer evening, a deep roundness for Tsukimi (autumn full moon viewing) and rich Atsukan (hot Sake) in winter? There are many variations according to how the three main ingredients of rice, Koji (a fermentation starter), and water are blended. Sake (also called Nihon shu) can be served warm, cold, or at ambient temperature, in different drinking vessels depending on the type and occasion. On New Year's Day, Sake called Omiki is offered to deities in a special lacquer container while people consume the version called Otoso (meaning to destroy the evil and reinvigorate one's spirit) sometimes mixed with gold foil flakes, in a gala Sakazuki (cup). When a large barrel is broken at a celebration, the content will be served in a wooden box called Masu. Chilled or non-heated Sake uses glassware, but it's drunk from an Ochoko (small cup) poured via a Tokkuri (bottle) when heated. Native to Japan, the beverage can be tasted in many ways. So, how do you like your Sake tonight?
(Photos: Sake served at Hanami with accidentally fallen petals and a Sake bottle and cup.)