"Ask Beau" March 2005
Steve B. from Minnesota asked, "What does the word sake mean?"
Steve, firstly this is a simple but great question, and I will answer it by describing an embarrassing situation that happened to me in Japan. On one of my trips to Osaka - roughly the time when the True Sake concept began to formulate - I was with a Canadian fellow and we went looking for a "sake bar." Time and time again we would ask people to show us to a sake bar and they would keep steering us to nightclubs or typical bars that didn't really have sake. We kept asking what the F#^& are these peoples' problem? Aren't they Japanese? Don't they know what sake is? I mean come on! We were both frustrated and completely ignorant. Sake in Japan does not mean what sake in the US or abroad means.
In Japan the word sake means all types of alcoholic beverages. Thus those kind people kept showing us to sake bars - bars that served all sorts of alcoholic beverages. Sake can be wine, beer, spirits and even sake, but it doesn't just mean sake as we know it. The correct word in Japan is "Nihonshu" which translates roughly into the "wine of Japan." There is another more formal name for sake that was used when speaking in governmental or legal terminology, which is Seishu and stands for filtered sake. The word Seishu can be found on most bottles of sake, but the word to use to find "sake" in Japan is Nihonshu. And lastly what about that cute little accent above the e in sake? As they say in Hoboken "Fughetaboutit"!
Please send your sake specific questions to askbeau2 @ truesake.com. (This address is not for general questions and I only review the questions once per month. All correspondence should use info @ truesake.com.)