Sake, Japanese Rice Wine

Hello, how are you doing? Today I want to write about sake, Japanese rice wine. In Japan sake is traditionally called upon “the best medicine amongst 100 kinds”. Sake is considered to be good for health if you drink moderate amount every day. Also, Japanese people present sake to shrine or temple as “holly sake”, called “omiki”. We have New Year’s ceremonial sake that each one of family member drink it at the beginning of a new year as well. It is called “otoso”. It is impossible to separate sake from Japanese culture. We have very long history of making and drinking sake. There are thousands of sake breweries all across the country, and it is estimated that there exists 20,000 different kinds of local sake. They are all brewed taking various steps and much time, so delicately and elaborately.

皆さん、こんにちは。今日はお酒の話を書きます。日本では古くから「酒は百薬の長」と言う諺があり、日々適量を飲むのならばお酒は何よりも良い薬だと言い伝えられています。また、神仏に捧げる「お神酒」やお正月に家族全員が飲む「お屠蘇」の習慣も伝統的に残っており、日本での日々の暮らしの中で日本酒は深く長い歴史を持っています。日本全国津々浦々に酒造はあり、非常に長い手順を踏んで丁寧に作られるご当地自慢の地酒には、二万もの銘柄があるそうです。

I took this photo at Meiji Shrine in Tokyo. Each one of the sake barrel are from all over Japan and they were presented to Meiji Emperor. In Meiji era (1868-1912), the emperor was treated as a divine figure like a god, therefore I have no idea how diligently and cautiously all these sake were made.

こちらは、東京の明治神宮にて。明治天皇へ献上された、日本各地の特選の酒樽です。現人神でもあった天皇陛下へと献上された酒の一つ一つは、どれほどの熱量と細心の注意を払って醸造されたのか私には上手く想像できません。

I once read an article, in England there is a saying that if you judge a country’s richness, you can see by reading an encyclopedia that was published in the country and by drinking liquor that was produced in the country. I think it is talking about the historical practice and the spirit of creativity. I agree with the British mind.

イギリスの言い伝えでは、一国の成熟度を計るには、その国が出している百科事典を読み、またその国で伝統的に作られてきた酒を飲めば分かると言う説を何処かの記事で読んだことがあります。歴史に裏打ちされた実践と、絶え間ない創意工夫の精神のことを問うているのでしょう。

Each local sake is brewed and created by mixing and mingling factors of the local rice, water, temperature, and the humidity and the condition of the brewery. I once paid a visit to a brewery in my city. The brewery was so dim, cool, and humid. I actually sensed that there lived numerous fermentative bacterias that are essential for making good quality sake.

地酒はご当地の米、水、気温、酒造内の湿度やその状態などの要素が複雑に絡まりあい響きあって醸造されるものです。酒造を訪れて地酒を買い求めたことがありますが、酒造内は薄暗く冷んやりとしていて湿度が高く、酒を作り出すのに必要な発酵菌が静かにけれど確かに息づいているのを肌で感じました。

In Japanese literature history, there were large number of writers who were alcoholic, such as Dazai, Nakahara, or Sakaguchi. However, it is true to many other nations as well. It is an universal truth that you capture some kind of beautiful imagination when you are tipsy.

日本の文学史には、太宰治や中原中也や坂口安吾やその他多くの酒豪の作家たちがうごめいていますが、これは万国共通のお約束。ほろ酔い気分の中で、何か美しく芳しき着想を得るのは、モノを書く者にとって一つのテーゼです。

France occupies the world market with wine and the idea to spread Beaujolais Nouveau in Japan went so successful. Korea advertise Markgolly, Korean rice wine to export. And now, Japan is using various kinds of strategies to promote the charm of sake to reach out all over the globe.

フランスはワインで世界の市場を占め、ボージョレーヌーボーを広める作戦は日本で大当たりし、韓国はマッコリをブランディングして海外に売り出しています。そして日本は今、酒の魅力を世界中に知らしめようと多くの戦略を用いています。

This is Katsuya brewery in my city, Munakata Fukuoka. It has more than 200 years of history and there are several kinds of sake, and I recommend you to try Okinoshima that was named after Okinoshima island that became UNESCO world heritage site.

こちらは我が福岡県宗像市で二百年以上の歴史を持つ、勝屋酒造。様々な種類の酒が並びますが、ユネスコ 世界遺産に因んだ「沖ノ島」を酒好きの人には是非飲んでみて欲しいところです。

You feel like drinking sake? Well, I hope you do. That’s all for today. Have a lovely day and night. Blessings to each one of you.

なんだかお酒が飲みたくなってきましたか?それでは、今日はここまで。皆さん、良き1日をお過ごしください。沢山の祝福がありますように!

Let’s make a toast. Cheers!

それでは、乾杯しましょう。カンパーイ!

 

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