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Sake

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Casks of saké left as offerings at Tsurugaoka Hachiman Shrine in Kamakura
  • Japanese: 酒 (saké); 日本酒 (Nihon-shu)[1]

Saké is a rice wine that was historically the chief alcoholic beverage in Japan.

Saké distributed widely throughout the country was originally brewed mainly in cities. Fushimi, today a part of the city of Kyoto, was among the most famous or prominent saké brewing districts in the Edo period, and remains so today; riverboats carried Fushimi saké (along with numerous other goods) between Kyoto and Osaka, and via seagoing ships and overland routes from Osaka, to many other parts of the country.

Rural brewing became more viable in the Edo period when techniques were developed for making a rice-based still-beer (i.e. saké in an earlier stage of the brewing process) more transportable. Brewers/breweries (called kuramoto) added alum to the mixture; the alum combined with certain undesirable by-products of fermentation, sinking to the bottom and allowing clearer wine to be poured or siphoned off the top.[2]

References

  1. The Japanese word "saké" often refers to alcoholic drinks in general, while the term Nihonshu (or "Japanese alcohol") can be used to refer specifically to Japanese rice-wine.
  2. Kaplan, Edward. The Cultures of East Asia: Political-Material Aspects. Chap. 16. 09 Nov 2006. <http://www.ac.wwu.edu/~kaplan/>. p16-13.
    By some accounts, this technique was discovered by accident, when a worker dumped alum into the vats in order to harm his employer, with whom he was angry.
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