Temples and Sake
In Japan, sake used to play a role as an important offering to enshrine gods from ancient times. On the other hand, according to Mahayana Buddhism’s sutra ‘Brahmajala Sutta’, sake making was considered a serious crime and was banned in temples. However, after Buddhism was introduced to Japan, a syncretism of Buddhism and Japan’s traditional Shinto (called Shinbutsu-shugo) spread widely. Monks began to brew sake in temples to be offered to gods by using rice harvested in shoen (manor). This sake is called soboshu.
At Shoryakuji Temple (Nara City, Nara Prefecture), since its foundation in 992, a large quantity of soboshu used to be brewed. There, sake brewing techniques that are still applicable to the present day were established, such as a ”three-step preparation for fermentation mash”, “morohaku” which uses white rice for both koji and kakemai, “bodaimoto” which is a prototype of starter culture, and pasteurization for sterilization and decay prevention.
Since then, Shoryakukji Temple came to be called the “birthplace of sake”. It prepares bodaimoto in January every year since 1999. The gods of sake exist everywhere in Japan.