In Sake tastings event, you are taken to another world, where we can offer you relax with Japanese holy beverage and we will tell you about Japanese history and culture with sense of humor.
In this page, we would like to explain the Japanese original religion “Shinto(神道)”. Shinto is the reason why sake was made and this religion is very unique. Whether you come to our event or not, we would like to let you know culture and history of sake with this article.
What is Shinto(神道)?
“Shinto(神道)” is Japanese polytheistic religion. Polytheism tends to be found in agricultural society. One of uniqueness of Shinto is its concept called “Yaorozunokami(八百万神)”. It literally means 8 million gods exists in Shinto, but the truth is that Shinto believes sprit can belong to all materials in the universe. From this belief, Japanese people learn about caring feeling and love towards nature, people and harvest.
The most important ceremony
Why are we talking about Shinto now? Because Sake is deeply related with Shinto. From the past to the present, there are 3 important ceremonies in Shinto. One is “Reisai (例祭)”. In this ceremony, people show their respect for god and the rest of them is associated with agriculture. “Kinensai (祈年祭) is praying for rich harvest before planting seedings of rice in spring. The other one is “Niinamesai (新嘗祭)” which takes place in autumn when people place an offering and show appreciation to gods as they have plentiful food after harvesting rice.
So, Shinto ceremony is related with rice most of time. It tells how rice is important for ancient Japanese people who have always wished for harvesting wealthy rice. Sake is also part of those ceremony. Japanese people started making sake as a special offering for gods. The most ancient sake was made by maiden in shrine. They chewed cooked rice because our drool converts starch into sugar. After that, Japanese priest would add yeast and it was left for about a month. But no worries! This process is not used nowadays, there is no drool in your sake!
What is “Kuramoto (蔵元)” and “Toji (杜氏)”
In the past, sake used to be a holy beverage offering, thus, sake was made only in shrine. Gradually, professional sake markers were formed nearby shrine and they have taken the authority of making sake. The sake makers started to be called “Kuramoto (蔵元)” and the leader of Kuramoto started to be called “Toji (杜氏)”. Nowadays, these names are still commonly used. So, those makers are producing sake not for selling, but for shrine. In the middle century, sake was easily rotten as sake makers had no idea of how to properly store the alcohol so that sake couldn’t be transported far away. Therefore, plenty of sake makers were working nearby shrines and villages. And it gave wealthy variety for sake’s culture. Nowadays, the number of sake’s brands and makers is decreasing, but still there are around 10,000 types of sake created by 1400 sake makers. Moreover, each area and village created the perfect marriage of their sake and food.
The Marriage of sake and food
Japanese people love sake. We drink it with small snacks and foods and each region has specialties for food and sake.
For example, Yamanashi prefecture is surrounded by the mountain – one of them is famous Mt. Fuji Local people eat wild game, root vegetable and noodle with dense miso soup. Then, Yamanashi’s wine tends to be sweeter than others and it has deep rice flavor, which perfectly matches with their local foods.
On the other hand, Niigata prefecture faces The Sea of Japan, which is inhabited by plenty of fish. Their sake is bitter like white wine and it matches with light and delicate fish cuisine.
So, sake has a million of ways to make combinations with cuisines.
What do you feel? Are you interested in Japanese culture and history? Or would you like to try the marriage of sake and cuisine? We would serve both educational lecture and sensational gourmet discovery during out tasting.
If you want to join our event, do not hesitate and contact us.