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Japanese Sake- Getting Drunk with Gods


Japanese sake is becoming acknowledged outside of Japan together with the recent popularity of Japanese cuisine. Not only are they available at Japanese restaurants, but there are hotel bars that feature sparkling Japanese sake at champagne themed bars.

Main ingredient of Japanese sake is rice. During supper, despite eating the same menu, it is not rare to see few members of a family cutting back on carbohydrates (often times rice) because sake itself is made of carbohydrate and has high sugar content; in other words, eating rice and sake is fattening.

Similarly to the role of wine in Christianity, alcohol tend to be connected with religion and the same can be said about Japanese sake. Ancient gods produced Japanese sake and indulged themselves. When the sun goddess hid in a cave and the world became dark, fellow gods and goddesses held a feast (eating, drinking and dancing) in front of it to lure her out. Sake was used by sun goddess’s younger brother to fight off life threatening monsters (by getting them heavily drunk!). Sake was god’s drink that people were graced with. Japanese ancestors believed that extraordinary feeling -floating, warm, haziness – of drinking sake in front of gods would make them closer to gods for communication and oneness.

The Emperor and his family engage themselves in rice crop harvesting. This hints a great deal about the role of rice. Yes, rice is eaten as Japanese’s staple diet; but the importance of rice is also in its nature of connecting people and gods/spirits of Japan through sake.