Traditional Japanese Sweet Drinks: Amazake and Shiruko
In Japan, a wide variety of canned beverages, from fizzy drinks to soups, are available from vending machines dotted around the city. In addition, some also carry alcoholic drinks including beer and sake rice wine.
When you choose and purchase a canned drink from a vending machine in Japan, you may find beverages with Japanese tastes that you have never experienced before.
Among such canned beverages, the traditional Japanese sweet drinks “Amazake (甘酒)” and “Shiruko (汁粉)” are widely enjoyed only during the cold winter months. They are usually served hot, but first of all, have you ever heard of them?
For people who don’t know Amazake, it is a traditional Japanese sweet drink made from sake lees or by fermenting a mixture of rice and malted rice, which comes in many forms, including canned varieties.
Although its name includes the word “酒 (Zake)” that stands for sake rice wine, Amazake only contains less than 1 percent alcohol and is classified as a soft drink in Japan, so not only adults but also children can enjoy the beverage.
As it is said that the origin dates back to the Kofun period (古墳時代: the middle of the 3rd century to around the 7th century), the Japanese sweet drink has a very long history.
We usually have heated Amazake in the wintertime, but some Japanese like to drink chilled Amazake during the summer. As a matter of fact, the fermented rice drink is packed with nutrients and helps beat the heat and relieve fatigue in the summertime.
Meanwhile, Shiruko, or “Oshiruko (お汁粉)”, is a traditional Japanese soup dish made from Azuki red beans, sweetened with sugar, and the red bean soup is often served with Mochi rice cakes. But canned Oshiruko and instant Oshiruko usually don’t contain Mochi.
Like Amazake, Shiruko has a long history, and its origin is said to date back to about 400 years ago. Although Oshiruko is a soup dish that represents Japan’s winter season, the sweet red bean soup can also be served cold in the summer.
(Reference Pages: Wikipedia 甘酒, 汁粉 )