日本酒を語る

Talk about sake

2020.10.21

Knowledge

Nicknames for Sake Lovers

In Japan, sake lovers are called sato (meaning a leftist party) or hidari-kiki (meaning a left-handed person). These terms come from a word play for the term called nomi-te, that originally represents left hands of carpenters holding a nomi (chisel), but has another different meaning with the same syllable, hands for nomi (a drink). Another theory comes from samurais who used to hold sakazuki cups in their left hands so that they could draw a sword any time. There is a word geko representing those who are lightweight or can’t drink, while there is a word jogo representing those who drink a lot. These words are derived from legal codes in Edo period (1603-1868) that divided each family into classes by the number of adult men in the family. The amount of sake allowed to be consumed at the wedding ceremony was specified under the codes and the class jogo was allowed to have 8 bottles of sake, so it came to mean those who drink sake a lot. On the other hand, 2 bottles were allotted to the class geko. The term warai-jogo (meaning a big laugher or those who start laughing when they get drunk) originally comes from the habit of drinking sake. A drunkard is called tora meaning a tiger in Japanese, deriving from court ladies in the Muromachi period (1336-1573) who used to call sake sasa, which also has the meaning of a bamboo. There are theories that a bamboo was associated with a tiger, or a drunkard was associated with a tiger crawling on all fours, or a drunkard keeps on drinking sake until the Tora no Koku (Hour of Tiger, 3:00-5:00 a.m.). There is a term hebereke which means someone who gets drunk too much. It is said that this term comes from beautiful Greek goddess Hebe serving alcohol to gods as guests and making them get drunk. A term zaru, meaning a bamboo sieve, is used for a heavy drinker and waku, meaning a frame, is used for a super heavy drinker. There seems to be as many unique nicknames for sake lovers as there are sake lovers.