What is Japanese sake

“What is Japanese sake?”  by Mako

Oct. 02. 2020
by Mako

Have you ever drunk Japanese sake before?

“Yes”

Thank you very much! We are friends!

“No”

I will tell you how fantastic Japanese sake is!

You will be into Japanese sake!

Thank you anyway for reading my article.

I am very glad that you are interested in Japanese Sake.

Sake is a traditional alcoholic beverage in Japan and is close to Japanese people’s lives. 

However, the consumption is decreasing and some Japanese people have negative images toward Japanese sake.

This is why I am writing now and want more people to know Japanese Sake is very tasty and attractive.

I hope more people will be interested in Japanese sake and try tasting it.

Let’s start the journey to Japanese sake together!

【What is Japanese sake?】

Do you know what Japanese sake is?

Here are four basic characteristics and the history of Japanese sake that will help you perceive the profundity of Japanese sake.  

 -Fermented alcoholic beverage-

Japanese sake is a fermented alcoholic beverage which is the same as beer and wine. (Of course, there are some differences between them and these differences come from the uniqueness of Japanese Sake. I will tell you later.)

 -The ingredients of Japanese sake-

The ingredients of Japanese sake are very simple;rice and water (sometimes brewer’s alcohol).

In the fermentation process, Koji and Yeast play an important role, which determines the quality and the taste of Japanese sake.

-Multiple parallel fermentation-

The characteristics of brewing Japanese sake is called “multiple parallel fermentation” as saccharification and fermentation occur at the same time.This process is so difficult to handle that it requires outstanding technique of brewers. 

 -The history of Japanese sake-

Japanese sake has a very long history, beginning in the Yayoi period (around 300BC to AD 300). In the old days, sake was very spiritual and devoted to the buddha in temples and the gods in shrines. This sake is called “Miki” and sake connects people and God.  Thus, sake was a way of communication, of course, with God and with people.  Japanese sake was deeply connected with each rural area and developed as Jizake. Recently Japanese sake is available even in places which are very far from the original production area. However, some breweries continued to ship only to the neighborhood as they placed more importance on the connection and the order of the village society.  One characteristic of Japanese sake is much related to human connection.

【The fascinating points of Japanese sake】

Based on the above mentioned, you can deeply understand the fascinating points of Japanese sake!

-和醸良酒-

 和醸良酒 (Wa-Jyo-Ryo-Shu) is a famous word in Japanese sake industry. This word has two different meanings .

(1)Japanese sake was made in a harmony of brewers. 

(2).    Good Japanese sake creates harmony among people.  

(2) is easy to understand. So in this section I  focus on (1)

(1)  comes from the hard work of brewers. With some exceptions, sake is brewed only in winter and brewers wash rice with cold water. They carry heavy rice again and again… So, the cooperation of brewers is needed to make good sake.

Toji, the head brewer taught the words “和醸良酒" and said “harmony, cooperation, and responsibility are very important to make good Japanese sake. The word “和醸良酒" is focusing on harmony, but the responsibility is also important to make good sake". He is a professional. He thinks harmony is not relying on someone but is trusting his fellows. He lives up to his fellows’ expectations. When brewers make Japanese sake, they concentrate on the condition of Japanese sake and complete their works perfectly.

This is how to brew good sake. Each brewing process is very important and essential. So brewers pass to the next process in good and perfect condition with their responsibility.

-Variety of Japanese sake flavor-

Do you know the Japanese sake with melon flavor?

Even though sake is made from very simple ingredients; rice and water, there is a large variety of Japanese sake.  You can enjoy a different flavor of Japanese sake.Difference in taste is from the brewers and the policy of each brewery.  

Beginners of Japanese sake tend to choose sake by the brand name because it’s hard for  beginners to tell the difference for each sake.  Of course, Ihave no intention of underestimating the big brands of Japanese sake.  I like these brands and drink them.  My opinion is that there are small breweries which make good quality sake.  Some brewers do not want the brand of their brewery to be more famous but strongly wish to make more tasty sake and want rural people to enjoy drinking the sake.

That’s the true craftsman spirit.  So, you can buy some Japanese sake only when you visit the place around the brewery. 

That is why I am into Japanese sake!  Isn’t it like a treasure hunt?

【Conclusion】

Understanding Japanese sake is very difficult because the taste of Japanese sake does not directly reflect the taste of ingredients like wine does but the taste depends on the craftsmanship of brewers.  

In conclusion, I think Japanese sake is  human’s sake.  Japanese sake is made with brewer’s harmony (和)and good sake creates harmony among people.

Later will give you the basic information and advice to choose Japanese sake and good pairings with food depending on the type of Japanese sake.

Please read and enjoy Japanese sake together.

I want the harmony of Japanese sake to become wider and connect people all over the world. 

Thank you!