Kansai Scene Magazine
 

 

Celebrating sake

Feature : Sake or nihonshu, as it more correctly known in Japan, has ingrained itself into the annals of the nation’s history. Its origins are unknown but it has been documented as being used in both religious and imperial ceremonies from many centuries ago. One of the first chronicles of sake is recorded in a Chinese text that dates back to the third century.

Nihonshu has been consumed by Imperial courts, its purification properties sought after by Shinto Buddhists, and its divine invigorating powers used to bless Shogun soldiers before going into battle. It was given to a sleeping dragon in order to slay it while it slept and is thought to be a cure for minor ailments.

The confidence and positivity that one experiences while drinking sake have been compared to the general feelings of more affluent members of society, hence, lower class members of society drank it in order to gain a glimpse of the upper classes. It has long been associated with good fortune and, even in modern times, it is widely believed that opening a barrel of sake at ceremonies brings good harmony and prosperity.

Although nihonshu once accounted for a whopping forty six percent of all direct income tax in Japan and even though it has now become a world beverage, its popularity in its native country has somewhat waned recently with the introduction of foreign beverages such as beer, which now claims 70 percent of the nations annual alcohol consumption; nihonshu now shares the remaining portion with wine, shochu and spirits.

This month KS takes a look at some of the historical facts, health factors and cultural aspects that surround the nation’s inebriant of choice for many centuries.

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