Sake is a clear liquid containing 15% alcohol and is
made from a combination of rice and water
Photo by: Tristan Kenney, Creative Commons
Japan is a land characterized by a good mix of tradition and innovation. This balance of the old and the new is evident not only in their fast paced yet grounded lifestyle, but also in simpler matters such as what they drink. Japanese drinks can be placed into three general categories that represent both the age-old traditions of tea and sine drinking as well as the newer and Western-influenced manner of drinking beer.
The culture of tea drinking was first introduced to Japan by Chinese envoys in the 9th century. During that time it was predominantly something that only the religious classes participated in. But as the technique of roasting tea became widespread, drinking tea became a common affair shared by different classes of people while they perform other activities such as painting, or reading poetry. Green tea was introduced in 1740 and has since then become a staple in Japanese meals with the Shizuoka prefecture as the main place where most tea leaves are grown.
Even before the Japanese knew how to drink tea, records from the third century show that they had been drinking wine in the form of rice wine or what is more popularly known as sake. Sake is a big part of the Shinto religion, which Japanese culture as a whole practices. It is a clear liquid containing 15% alcohol and is made from a combination of rice and water. Because of the importance of water in the equation, most sake breweries can be found near the best spring water sources of the world. In Japanese culture, there is a certain way to drink sake and it is considered polite to pour sake for one another.
Due to western influences, the popularity of sake in Japan has been overtaken by another alcoholic beverage – beer. Drinking beer rose to popularity when Japanese began to look for a cheaper alternative to costly wines. As a result, beer breweries began sprouting up in Japan, the most popular of which are Kirin and Asahi.