Sake

16 Jul

Many people outside of Japan call Japanese rice wine “Sake”…often mispronouncing the word as “sah-key“.

But actually 「酒」 (Sake) is pronounced as “sah-keh“, or more politely 「お酒」 (O-sake) and it’s the Japanese word for alcohol in general.

“Japanese rice wine” is called 「日本酒」 (“Nihon-shu”), literally “Japanese alcohol”.

日本酒

There are other Japanese traditional alcoholic drinks that aren’t as famous outside of Japan.

Do you know 「焼酎」 (Shou-chuu)?

焼酎

「焼酎」 (Shou-chuu) looks similar to 「日本酒」 (“Japanese rice wine”), but it has more alcohol per volume and a “harder” taste.
It’s usually brewed from potato.

Because of the high alcohol content and hard taste of 「焼酎」 (Shou-chuu), people usually mix it with water or fruit juice.

When it’s mixed with fruit juice, the drink is called 「酎ハイ」 (“Chuu-Hi“). The name comes from “Shou-chuu” + “High-ball” mixed drink.

Kirin Lemon Chu-Hi (6% alc) and Kirin Lemon Chu-Hi "Strong" (8% alc.)

Have you ever tried any of these drinks?

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34 Responses to “Sake”

  1. theonlygringoonthebus July 23, 2010 at 6:02 pm #

    Hi tokyo5, finally got round to checking out your blog and seeing some of the things we enjoyed in Japan, such as Sake! I think Hoppy should get a mention in your alcoholic drinks not seen outside Japan – that stuff was pretty good.

    Like

    • tokyo5 July 23, 2010 at 11:48 pm #

      Thanks. That’s a good idea…I could do a post about Hoppy one day too.

      Like

  2. Sven July 22, 2010 at 7:25 pm #

    He’s 19. He said sushi was OK. What is an izakaya, you could write a post about it?

    Like

    • tokyo5 July 23, 2010 at 1:03 am #

      >He said sushi was OK.

      Only “OK“??

      >What is an izakaya

      A uniquely Japanese restaurant. The characters that spell izakaya (居酒屋) literally mean “A shop with alcohol”.

      >you could write a post about it?

      Maybe I will. 😉

      Like

  3. svensays July 21, 2010 at 4:31 pm #

    12 days we were there. My son was somewhat skeptical, but he tried sushi and sashimi. We also had various beef or chicken dishes of which we can’t remember the names, and lots of burgers from McD or Lotteria or what we could find in the streets we walked.

    Like

    • tokyo5 July 22, 2010 at 11:02 am #

      Did your son like sushi? How old is he?

      You should have eaten in an izakaya.

      Like

  4. svensays July 20, 2010 at 11:58 pm #

    My son and me were in the central parts. We liked the Imperial Gardens in daytime and Ginza at night. Also the street market in Ueno was great fun.

    Like

    • tokyo5 July 21, 2010 at 2:38 am #

      How long did you stay? Did you eat much Japanese food?

      Like

  5. Sven July 19, 2010 at 11:34 pm #

    In June. Tokyo and Kyoto.

    Like

    • tokyo5 July 20, 2010 at 12:33 am #

      Just last month.
      Did you see much of Tokyo? What parts of the city do you like best?

      Like

  6. Sven July 19, 2010 at 4:39 am #

    I have been to Japan twice, in 2007 and 2010. Wish to go back but I don’t know when!

    Like

    • tokyo5 July 19, 2010 at 6:09 pm #

      Oh, you were here this year? Which month? In Tokyo?

      Like

  7. svensays July 18, 2010 at 2:06 am #

    True! I brought two bottles home, the other one a rice variety.

    Like

    • tokyo5 July 18, 2010 at 10:32 pm #

      Did you finish them off already?

      How often do you visit Japan?

      Like

  8. svensays July 17, 2010 at 11:58 pm #

    A toast to that! I just wrote about shochu in my own blog.

    Like

    • tokyo5 July 18, 2010 at 1:03 am #

      I just looked at your post.

      Is that label from a shou-chuu that you drank? 41% alcohol (82 proof)…quite strong.

      Like

  9. Sven July 17, 2010 at 8:38 pm #

    Ordinary whisk(e)y all right, but you wouldn’t do that with a single malt, would you?

    Like

    • tokyo5 July 17, 2010 at 9:03 pm #

      Well, I prefer bourbon whiskey.

      Like

  10. Sven July 17, 2010 at 8:03 pm #

    I enjoy the strong shochu like I enjoy whisky, in a small dose. Shochu could also be used in the way we in Scandinavia use aquavit or vodka: as an appetizer with the first course of a dinner meal.

    Like

    • tokyo5 July 17, 2010 at 8:08 pm #

      >I enjoy the strong shochu like I enjoy whisky

      Me, too. I mix both with juice. 🙂

      Like

  11. pongrocks July 17, 2010 at 5:28 am #

    The funny thing is, that it’s more or less pronounced like every German would say it 🙂 I’ve never tried sake before and never seen a bottle in German stores. On the other hand I haven’t really searched for it 😉 Maybe I should because I’m kind of curious and don’t have a clue how it tastes…

    p.s.: finally I have some time again to go through your recent posts 🙂

    Like

    • tokyo5 July 17, 2010 at 10:55 am #

      Yes, you should try Japanese Nihon-shu.

      And please comment on many of my blog posts!

      Like

  12. Jim at MoIppai July 16, 2010 at 10:03 am #

    Hi, I just found your blog, nice. I’m a big fan of sake but can’t drink shochu at all – gives me bad hangovers and tastes like neat vodka (even when I mix it). I don’t get the popularity of it here in Japan. I guess nihonshu is seen as old fashioned (it also has more calories and can be more expensive).

    I review lots of Japanese drinks on my site at http://www.moippai.com if you’re interested.

    Campai!

    Like

    • tokyo5 July 17, 2010 at 10:51 am #

      >can’t drink shochu at all – gives me bad hangovers

      Don’t drink that much of it to get a hangover! Have you tried a Chu-hi?

      And you site is very interesting. You know a lot about Nihon-shu, don’t you?

      Do you live in Japan?

      Like

      • Jim at Moippai July 19, 2010 at 12:07 pm #

        Hi, thanks for checking out my site.
        I’ve lived in Japan nearly 5 years now, not far from Kobe (where a lot of sake is brewed!).

        I have tried chu-hi, usually during the summer and the matsuris, but it’s often too sweet for me.

        I’ve been thinking of trying sho-chu again, maybe an expensive one this time, perhaps I was drinking the bottom of the barrel before 🙂

        Jim

        Like

      • tokyo5 July 19, 2010 at 6:12 pm #

        >I’ve lived in Japan nearly 5 years now

        Do you intend to stay in Japan permanently?

        >chu-hi…often too sweet for me.

        Yeah, some of them are.

        Like

      • Jim at MoIppai July 20, 2010 at 3:07 pm #

        > Do you intend to stay in Japan permanently?
        Would like to but Japan’s not the easiest of countries to emigrate to.
        Have to see how it goes.

        Like

      • tokyo5 July 21, 2010 at 2:35 am #

        >Would like to but Japan’s not the easiest of countries to emigrate to.

        I see.

        I have a “Permanent Resident” visa…I’ve forgotten how many years one must reside here to be eligible for it, though.

        Like

      • Jim at MoIppai July 21, 2010 at 9:02 am #

        Don’t want to get too off-topic here (this started out about sake!), but it’s not so much the visa thing (although that can be a problem). I have a marriage visa, and I think Permanent resident visa is 5 or 7 years for eligibility. But it’s more a problem of finding a job that isn’t teaching English (been there, done that, made redundant, too risky).

        Like

      • tokyo5 July 22, 2010 at 10:42 am #

        Yeah, I guess it’s the same in any country…for a foreigner to be given a job rather than a citizen, they must be fluent in the native language and/or have a needed skill that most of the citizens don’t (or else be willing to take a job that the citizens don’t want).

        Like

  13. Sven July 16, 2010 at 4:48 am #

    Shochu is good! I like it straight. It reminds of aquavit that we have in Sweden.

    Like

    • tokyo5 July 17, 2010 at 10:50 am #

      Straight? It has a very high alcohol level and a strong taste!
      I prefer it as a Chu-hi.

      Anyways, I like any kind of alcohol…but beer is best. 😉

      Like

  14. Earnest Mercer July 16, 2010 at 4:17 am #

    Back in the 50s when I first went to Japan, I knew nothing of Japanese alcohol, but learned quickly. First, I found the beer delightful; Asahi was my favorite, second, locally made whiskey was not so good, most of my buddies and I shunned the harsh taste of Ocean Whiskey (I forget the other brands) but later a whiskey that taste like Scotch was introduced and, though expensive, was my favorite when I return to Japan in later years. third, I immediately developed a taste for sake, especially when drunk warm. However, the sake brewed for drinking cold (traditionally from wooden boxes) was great. Lastly, in cold weather, Akadama bought from local grocers proved to be a great way to ward off the winter chill.

    Like

    • tokyo5 July 17, 2010 at 10:46 am #

      So you tried a lot of alcohol while you were in Japan, I guess.

      >a taste for sake, especially when drunk warm

      Warm or cold. I like both. Warm in winter, cold in summer is best, I think.

      Like

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