Japanese sake has played a long and distinguished role in the evolution of Japanese tradition and culture — sake reflects the appreciation of the Japanese for the ebb and flow of the seasons, enjoyed and shared among friends.
|Spring||A time for enjoying sake under clouds of soft pink cherry blossoms|
|Summer||A cooling glass of sake to beat the heat|
|Fall||Moon-viewing sake enjoyed under the light of a full harvest moon|
|Winter||A time for sipping sake while contemplating a quiet, snow-blanketed world|
Sake had its beginnings as an offering to the gods, and gradually became a beverage with which to celebrate weddings and other momentous occasions.
Many ancient records make mention of sake. Sake production using rice and koji, or malted rice, is thought to have begun between around 300 and 200 B.C. The first mention of sake produced using the same methods used to make modern sake can be found in the Harima Fudoki, a record of the culture and geography of the Harima region, completed in the early part of the Nara Period (710-784 C.E.). The Engishiki, a compilation of laws promulgated during the Heian Period (794-1185 C.E.), describes various types of sake made almost exactly as sake is made today. Given its long history, it is no surprise that sake-brewing evolved to take on local and regional variations. Different regions developed their own distinctive types of sake-traditions that are faithfully carried on today.
Japanese sake is perhaps unique in the world, in that it is delicious either served warm or chilled. Sake can be enjoyed across a wide range of temperatures, anywhere between 5 and 55 degrees Celsius. Japanese law strictly defines the ingredients and production methods acceptable for making sake. Unlike wine, sake never contains anti-oxidizing agents such as sulfites, or any other additives or preservatives. Even in this modern age, much of the sake production process is done by hand. The type of rice used and the degree to which the rice grains are milled both affect the personality of the resulting sake, carefully nurtured in the hands-on production process.