Please note: This article is about the rice wine. For other uses of the term, please see Sake (disambiguation).

Sake was an alcoholic drink made from fermented rice. Popularly held to be the discovery of Lord Hida, Kami of the Crab Clan, [1] sake (酒, pronounced "sah-keh") was a traditional wine enjoyed by members of all caste and stations. Commonly issued by the gourd to samurai sent to secluded waystations for guard duty, sake was said to warm the body and promote healthy circulation of the blood. [citation needed]

Origin Edit

The Tribe of Isawa brewed a form of rice wine that they used in festivals and religious ceremonies. Brewing it was one of the priests' most sacred duties. However, this ancient drink was not yet known by the name of “sake.” [1]

Manufacture Edit

Sake Works

Sake Manufacture

Water must be gathered and filtered. The purer the water, the better. The rice must be painstakingly shelled and cleaned. The rice was steamed and mashed in the water. The brewer added a small amount of koozi, along with a smaller amount of a mixture called moto. Fermented for 20 or 30 days. slowly, the mold and yeast transformed the sugar in the rice into alcohol. The bags which contained the fermenting mash were pressed, squeezing out the liquid. Let this sit for 10 more days, then it was filtered and heated to purify, obtaining the tasteful sake. [2] The drink was matured in cypress barrels and then stored in small ceramic bottles. [1]

Rice and Sake Edit

Lower grade sake was fermented from rice grains that had been milled to fifty percent of their original size. The finer sakes were fermented from rice grains milled to only ten percent of their original size. [citation needed] The outer husks of rice contained impurities, with the purest part of the rice being the core of each grain. Low grade sake therefore contained more imperfections and would be served hot to mask their less desireable flavor, while fine sake had no impurities and so could be served cold. Sake was brewed, bottled, sold and served as a wine, but chemically was actually a beer, as it was made from a grain not a fruit. [3]

Types Edit

There were different types os sake: [4]

  • Seishu: clear sake
  • Kuroshu: sake made from unpolished brown or wild rice
  • Genshu: sake with no water added after brewing
  • Koshu: aged sake
  • Toso-shu: medicinal sake
  • Amazake: sweet and nearly non-alcoholic sake
  • Junmai: sake made from pure rice wine with nothing added

Another categorization is how the rice was refined: [4]

  • Ginjo: 40% of the outer grain has been milled away
  • Honjozo: less than 40% of the outer grain has been milled away

Service Edit

Sake was served hot (at body temperature) and was drunk from small cups that could be held in one hand. [5] It was drunk before a meal, but was usually not served during the meal. Drinking sake played an important role in Rokugani religious life because the beverage was considered sacred to kami. [6]

Etiquette Edit

Sake was drunk from tiny porcelain or lacquered cups, accompanied by the kampai, a traditional toast. Each drinker poured for the other. [7] A samurai who drank too much was always excused for his behavior and any insults he made, so long as his actions did not involved murder, disloyalty or treason. In such state, he could not cover his 'true face'. [8]

Notable Sake Blends Edit

External Links Edit


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Book of Water, p. 118
  2. Bells of the Dead, p. 22
  3. Book of Water, pp. 121-122
  4. 4.0 4.1 Book of Water, p. 120
  5. Roleplaying in the Emerald Empire, p. 31
  6. GM's Survival Guide, p. 25
  7. Winter Court: Kyuden Kakita, p. 51
  8. Winter Court: Kyuden Seppun, p. 42

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