Greet the New Year with Eikun Kotosennen Junmai Ginjo!

27 Dec 2018

Tradition to drink sake on New Year in Japan

There are many traditions during New Year in Japan such as eating toshikoshi soba and osechi ryori, watching the sunrise on the first day of the New Year, ringing the bell at the temple, etc. Sake is also a big part of many rituals in Japan and it is a rare occasion and ceremony that does not include some sake, and that harbinger of renewal, New Year’s Day, is no exception.

Although sake figures prominently in New Year’s celebrations from morning to night, opening the year with a prayer for health in the form of drinking o-toso is perhaps the most interesting.

O-toso is sake that has been specially prepared by steeping a mixture of herbs in it for several hours. Drinking it with family in ceremonial fashion first thing on New Year’s Day is said to ward off sickness for the entire year ahead, as well as invite peace within the household. The tradition of o-toso originally came from China, and originally the mixture consisted of eight herbs. Things have naturally changed slightly over the years, and some of the herbs have changed as a couple in the original concoction were deemed too potent. But most remain true to the original recipe.

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Toso is drunk to flush away the previous year's maladies and to aspire to lead a long life. For generations it has been said that "if one person drinks this his family will not fall ill; if the whole family does no-one in the village will fall ill", and has been a staple part of New Year's osechi cuisine in Japan.

Another common type of sake enjoyed at New Year’s time is taru-zake. Like O-toso, taru-zake is not a brand of sake, and almost all brewers make some. It is sake that has been stored or aged for a period of time in a cedar caks, so that the woody flavor of the keg is imparted to the sake. It takes on a strong and pleasant cedar taste and aroma.

Sake Recommendation for greeting New Year

The recommended sake is Eikun Kotosennen Junmai Ginjo which is super clean and fruity. Sweet and sour fragrance reminiscent of grapefruit, mandarin orange, pineapple and yogurt slowly spreads in the mouth until the very end of the palate. It is made with highest quality ingredients from Kyoto prefecture. Water comes from Fushimi which is distinguished by having access to spring water of exceptional quality. This water produces elegant, not too overly sweet, and soft sake. It is made with Iwai rice which gives this sake fragrance and nice mouthfeel.

It is an award winning sake with high quality ingredients. It is very much suitable for New Year’s celebration! We wish a Happy New Year and a happy sake sipping!

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