Explore the wonderful world of cult sake from some of Japan’s most exclusive breweries as you celebrate World Sake Day this year on Sunday 1 October 2023.

Did you know there is a special day dedicated to celebrating Japanese sake? There’s World Sake Day, which falls on 1 October every year to shine the spotlight on Japan’s traditional rice-based alcoholic beverage.

While the exact origins of Japanese sake remains unknown – it is believed to have been brewed for over 2,000 years – the first documented source pointing to the existence of sake was from a historical Chinese document dating back to the third century AD.

Sake was first made as a form of religious offering for the gods. As sake production techniques begun to evolve and new strains of sake rice were introduced, different styles of sakes were created. First popular with the aristocracy and the noble class, the drink quickly became the choice for celebrations and get togethers among commoners during the Japan’s Kamakura and Muromachi periods. By the Edo period sake brewing had became a well-established industry, with production spreading to different regions of Japan. Industrialisation since the Meiji era further modernised the making of sake, vastly improving quality of sake.

Photo by Denise Metz on Unsplash
[Photo by Denise Metz on Unsplash]
Indeed, throughout history sake has played a significant role in every aspect of Japanese culture, offered up at religious ceremonies, served during celebrations, and imbibed over meals. For example, there is the traditional kagami biraki ceremony. This tradition involves the symbolic breaking of a sake barrel, usually performed during special occasions or festive celebrations such as weddings, party events, and even restaurant openings. After the top of the barrel is broken, the sake within is then shared with guests.

Sake is so important to Japanese culture that in 1978 the Japan Sake and Shochu Makers Association declared 1 October – traditionally the start of the sake brewing year since the Meiji era – as Sake Day in order to preserve sake tradition and culture for future generations, as well as to promote this prized national beverage across the world. Today sake is not only widely enjoyed in Japan, but has also become a well-loved drink worldwide.

Did you know? According to the Japan Sake and Shochu Makers Association, Singapore is among the biggest markets for Japanese sake – after China, the United States, Hong Kong, and South Korea – importing a total value of around S$21 million dollars’ worth of sake in 2022.

Sake Matsuri Singapore sake friends

Kampai with Sake!

Sake loving fans in Singapore will be commemorating this special day this year by taking part in the biggest kampai ceremony to be held in Singapore on 1 October at Capitol Outdoor Plaza. Organised by Vivid Creations, Sake Matsuri Singapore, The Japan Sake and Shochu Makers Association (JSS), JETRO Singapore, and various restaurants in Singapore. Ticket holders in this exclusive World Sake Day Global Kampai Celebration will get to be part of a livestreamed kagami biraki session that will be broadcast in Japan and around the world.

Aside from the traditional sake cask breaking ceremony, participants at this global celebration will also get a sneak preview of some of the notable sakes that will be featured in the upcoming Sake Matsuri Singapore sake festival, one of the best independent sake events in the Lion City. Among the examples include Junmai Ginjo Budou from Tokushima Prefecture’s Brewery Miyoshikiku, the Hatsu Release “Kunoichi” from Gifu Prefecture’s Brewery Hirata, and the Rusuisen New Normal Omi by Nagano’s Ichinoya, some of which are specially brought in for the festival.

The 1 October kampai celebration will also kick off Kampai with Sake, a period of two weeks where various restaurants around Singapore will be offering special in-store promotions to celebrate the wonders of Japanese sake and food pairing. Participating restaurants include Shinsora and Standing Sushi Bar, which are offering discounts on every second bottle sold, while Tanuki Raw outlets across town are featuring an exclusive sake cocktail. Then there’s Sushi Yuki and Izakaya Yoppi, both of which are showcasing special sake flights, or Omu Nomu, where diners who flash their Instagram post or stories can get their first glass of sake on the house, and/or 10% off all sake by bottle during the promotional period.

Looking to try some of the most exclusive sake from cult Japanese breweries? Make sure you sign up for Sake Matsuri Singapore happening in November later this year. For more info or ticketing details, visit https://sakematsuri.sg/collections/sake-matsuri-nov-2023-edition.

This article is brought to you in partnership with JETRO Singapore.

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