Sake Is the Best of All Medicines: Meaning Behind the Proverb

Sake Is the Best of All Medicines

In Japanese there is a saying  "Sake wa hyaku yaku no chou" meaning sake is the best of all medicines. In a similar way, Italians have a saying "good wine makes good blood", but these are proverbs are not calls to overindulgence. Rather, they are proverbs that show these are drinks that are very much connected to the Japanese and Italian culture, history and land.  So sake is as much about a relationship with the Japanese culture and identity as it is about taste and experience.

The origin of this proverb is the Book of the Later Han, one of the official Chinese historical works complied in the 5th century. It is sometimes followed by another saying "sake wa hyaku doku (poison) no chou", meaning that sake's the worst poison. This later proverb comes from the Essays in Idleness written by Kenkou Yoshida in the 14th century. This is a good example of the Japanese people's fondness of moderation.


Kinsen Sake Wa Hyaku Yaku no Chou

The current brewer of the Kinsen brand is Aihara Shuzo, the maker of another famous brand called Ugonotsuki, but it was originally a brand name of Horimoto Shuzo in Mitsu, Akitsu, Hiroshima Prefecture. When Horimoto Shuzo went out of business, Aihara Shuzo brought in Atsushi Horimoto, a skilled toji (master brewer), and added the brand name to the Aihara Shuzo lineup.

Kinsen's flagship sake, Kinsen Sake Wa Hyaku Yaku no Chou, makes a bold but solid statement that is hard to disagree with. It is a junmai ginjo sake with a rich ginjo aroma and a sharp, clear taste that goes well with seafood dishes such as bonito tataki, as well as Chinese dishes such as haposai and spring rolls.

A soft, dry and even slightly grainy start spreads into a lighter finish with a bit of bitterness and sweetness coming out of the recesses. There is a thickness to Kinsen that survives long into the finish, which is fairly quick despite all that is happening before its turn to take the stage comes. Take a time to enjoy this special sake!

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