Sake 101: A Beginner’s Guide to Sake When Visiting Japan

A trip to Japan would not be complete without a little sake tasting! But unless you are an avid sake drinker, it can be hard to know where to begin.

To help you navigate the world of sake, we’ve done plenty of research in Japan: from consulting with sake experts, to the arduous task of tasting sake throughout the country.

We hope our Sake 101 guide helps you get the most out of your next sake experience!

Sake 101

What is sake? When you ask this question in Japan and then in the rest of the world, you’ll get two different answers.

In English, “sake” refers to the alcoholic fermented rice beverage from Japan that you’ve probably sampled at your local izakaya (or local sake bar, if you’re lucky!).

But ask for “sake” in Japan and you may be met with a questioning look. Why is that?

Because in Japanese, “sake” refers to all alcoholic drinks in general. That includes beer, wine, shochu, and the beverage we call “sake” in English.

So what do the Japanese call “sake”? In Japanese, the word for what we refer to as sake is nihonshu. Nihonshu translates as “Japanese alcohol,” and if you ask for nihonshu at an izakaya, you will be greeted with a smile.

Originally published here 

Photo by coniferconifer CC BY

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