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The sixth of my images of Japan collection September 28, 2006

Posted by urbanblue in Images of Japan.

The word sake actually refers to alcohol in general in Japan. It’s also pronounced like the “..sa Ke..” in “Lisa Kendall”, rather than as “sarky”. The rice wine that has become so popular in other countries is called in Japan Nihon-shu (literally Japanese alcohol). And, as with the wines of France, Australia and Italy, the varieties are infinite and the quality highly variable. You can buy a cheap 100 yen One-Cup (about 50p or $1) from the convenience store if you’re not fond of your stomach lining and would like to see it burnt away. Or you can spent literally hundreds or even thousands of pounds on a particularly sought-after high calibre brand. I don’t know how that tastes. Better than the One-Cup I imagine.
The thing is though that the popularity of Nihon-shu declining somewhat. It’s considered by many to be the chosen tipple of the older generations. Far more popular is sho-chu (literally distilled liquor). Sho-chu is a white spirit which is either drunk with mixers such as orange juice, iced green tea or jasmine tea, or straight. It’s actually originally from Korea and China, and this is reflected by the popularity of the most commonly bought  brand, Jinro, which is a Korean label. Naturally there is nothing political whatsoever in the fact that Japanese sho-chu, particularly the sho-chu of Southern Kyushu and Okinawa, are considered to be particularly fine and the Japanese sommeliers’ choice whereas Korean sho-chu is for use as a cheap mixer at student parties. Hmm.
Barrels of sake at a temple in Nikko



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