How to Drink Sake – an Orientation

(7) Facts about toasting, health

Yeast Kimoto, I enjoyed learning lots of things about how to drink sake. Today I want to make a toast together!
Kimoto Fine, kanpai! By the way, Yeast, do you know when the first toast in Japan was given?” Yeast: “When can that have been? I suppose a long time ago?
Yeast When can that have been? I suppose a long time ago?
Kimoto The word “kanpai” first appeared in the Heian period. But it seems that the Western way of toasting by raising your cup and clicking your glass against another glass was transmitted when Admiral Perry arrived with his Black Ships at the end of the Tokugawa shogunate. Admiral Perry’s Expedition to Japan states that from the year after his arrival until the conclusion of the Japan-US Treaty of Peace and Amity, five banquets were held with senior officials of the Shogunate who were involved in the negotiations. That is probably where Japanese for the first time saw a Western toast. Another theory holds that the first toast was made when, at a banquet celebrating the conclusion of the Anglo-Japanese Friendship Treaty in that same period, the British representative Earl Elgin proposed that the Japanese side give the toast, and Kiyonao Inoue stood up and yelled kanpai!
Yeast Hmm. It must have seemed a strange custom in the eyes of the Japanese. Was it accepted by society?
Kimoto Western food gradually spread with Japan’s Westernization movement during the Meiji era. The toast was especially popular at triumphal celebrations among military leaders who had received a Western-style training.
Yeast Interesting! Did until then no custom equivalent to the toast exist in Japan?
Kimoto Of course it did! Sake, which is made from rice with painstaking care, is to the Japanese the most precious offering to the gods. It’s only natural that a ritual way of drinking sake would develop. You must have drunk it that way yourself.
Yeast Well… do you mean having to drink “Three Cups One After Another” when you arrive late at a drinking party?
Kimoto Hahaha, that’s also a great ritual. First of all, the official version of that was the custom of ceremonially drinking “Three Formal Rounds” when sake was being offered to the gods. That tradition remains in the “San-San-Kudo” exchange of nuptial cups at a wedding ceremony. Such an official part of a banquet was called “Reiko.” When that ended, the unofficial part of the banquet called “Bureiko” would start. Someone who came late and hadn’t finished the “Reiko” part yet therefore had to drink “Three Cups One After Another.” But it shouldn’t be forced!
Yeast I see, it had a definite purpose! I suppose we prayed for everyone's health and longevity in both the toast and the Reiko ritual?
Kimoto Yes. In fact, sake contains ingredients that are good for health and beauty. You shouldn’t drink too much, but merrily enjoy it in the right measure, and so live a long and healthy life.” Yeast: “Really? How is sake good for health and beauty?
Yeast Really? How is sake good for health and beauty?
Kimoto Sake contains far more amino acids that are important to the human body than other alcoholic beverages. That has many health benefits. For example, drinking sake will improve blood circulation and make your body warm. This is because the component called adenosine contained in sake has the function of dilating the blood vessels and improving blood flow. It relaxes the body and mind, and is helps against stiff shoulders and poor circulation.
Yeast Relaxation of mind and body! What element is good for beauty?
Kimoto Kojic acid, which is found in sake, suppresses the production of melanin, which is the source of skin blemishes, and it is also a component that creates a firm and glossy skin.
Yeast Terrific! Do all sakes have the same effect?
Kimoto There are some differences depending on the type of sake. For example, peptides are especially abundant in junmai sake, and they seem to have the effect of lowering blood pressure and improving memory.
Yeast Amazing! I’ll always drink in the right measure, and through sake enjoy a long life!