World Sake Day or International Sake Day, is one of the most important days for sake enthusiasts. It’s about celebrating sake and having a fun drinking experience. Let this be your guide for World Sake Day.
World Sake Day is October 1st
The Japan Sake and Shochu Makers Association (JSSA) proclaimed October 1st, 1987 as Sake Day. Their aim was to encourage the passing down of sake traditions and culture to the next generations, and to promote general awareness to the public. With international attention, it eventually became known as World Sake Day or International Sake Day.
Why October 1st?
October 1st was chosen as World Sake Day based on two historic facts:
1. Beginning of Sake Making Season
October 1st historically marks the start of the fiscal year for sake making. This time is the best for sake production since it immediately follows the harvest of sake rice. Also, the following winter season is the best season for fermentation.
Brewers have since been celebrating this day as the start of sake making.
2. October is the Month of Sake
In Japanese and Chinese, the character of October is the old character for sake. The kanji “酉” is a graphic representation of a crock which stores alcohol. This implies that sake was already being made in October since recorded Japanese history.
Sake is Best Enjoyed in October
Sake is made in early spring and spends summer maturing in a cool storehouse. That means it becomes its best—aromatic and mellow, in autumn. Autumn is known for delicious harvests such as mushrooms, fish, and wild vegetable, and sake is always a good partner. All the more reason to visit Japan in autumn!
Events During the day
JSSA hosts a yearly event where attendees—bars and sake enthusiast organizations all around the world toast at the same time. In 2015, 326 groups or at least 46,906 individuals joined the event.
World Sake Day “Cheers Altogether” event by JSSA
Image Credit: JSSA
An Australian restaurant takes part in the celebration
Other events: Sake Challenge by Sake Institute of Ontario
Several restaurants, bars, and groups also organize independent events during the day. For example, the Sake Institute of Ontario holds a special sake tasting event during October 1st.
Making the most of World Sake Day
Freebies and discounts are often given during World Sake Day. If a bar or restaurant specialize in providing Japanese sake, then it’s likely that they hold events and/or disscounts on the day.
If you want a cup of free sake, there’s an opportunity for you. In Tokyo, JSSA gives sake for free. They have been doing this every year since 2006. And if you are one of the first 200 attendees, you’ll also get a special wooden sake cup or a ‘Masu’.
At the beginning of the celebration, members of the JSSA open a sake barrel as a traditional and celebratory way of saying “Cheers!” in Japan. (as of Sep.13th, it doesn’t provide informations about the event for this year)
Members of JSSA opening a barrel filled with sake.
Also, you may wish to get a badge of sake for 500 JPY prior to Oct. 1st, that will entitle you to a free cup of sake in 25 restaurants and bars in Tokyo, and the same applies to other big cities such as Osaka, Kobe, Fukuoka, Sapporo, and Hiroshima. The badge is available in the participant restaurants listed here (in Japanese).
World Sake Day was made to commemorate the culture and joy in both making and drinking sake. There are various fun local events, which are now being replicated in different countries worldwide. If you get a chance to visit Japan in autumn, don’t miss this event and the great experience that comes with it!