日本酒を語る

Talk about sake

2020.09.14

Knowledge

Other Names for Sake – From Word Game to Jargon-

There is a saying, “Sake is the best of all medicines” (equals to “Good wine makes good blood”), which is often spoken by sake lovers. Generally, it is said that when you drink alcohol, your blood circulation is improved so that it relaxes your body and mind. So, people interpret the saying as it is in that drinking a moderate amount of alcohol is better than medicine. However, according to a classic Chinese history book called ‘Book of (Former) Han’, alcohol was one of monopolies promoted by a man named Wang Mang, who defeated the Han Dynasty and founded Xin Dynasty, so the saying is said to be an advertising phrase with no medical evidence. The book praises alcohol as, “Alcohol is a gift from heaven.” In this way, people’s feeling for sake created many words to express sake. Some names are derived from a way of consuming sake. A word kukon comes from drinking one cup of sake in three sips and repeating this three times, or a word sanchi comes from drinking sake slowly. There are other names for sake deriving from the kanji of sake (酒). Mizudori comes from the kanji of sake consisting of two parts with the left being sanzui (氵) representing water (mizu) and the right being tori (酉) meaning a liquor pot. Hiyomi no tori comes from the tori (酉) which also means a specific day, month or year used in the calendar (hiyomi). There is a word game like saying “sumimasen (representing two meanings: “not clear “ and “I’m sorry”) because nigori sake (unfiltered sake) is not clear.” Though Buddhism prohibits alcohol, Buddhist monks seem to have enjoyed sake as hannyato, which literally means hot water of hannya (wisdom) but was used for as their jargon for sake. There are many other words meaning sake deriving from Buddhism and temples, such as gomasu and daijosui. We could feel, beyond time and borders, their love of sake and desire to drink sake whatever it takes.