Otoso and Omiki : 2 Traditional Sake Rice Wines for Celebration
“Sake (酒)” is the quintessential Japanese alcoholic drink that is widely enjoyed around the world. It is said that there are over 1,400 Sake breweries and more than 10,000 Sake brands in Japan.
When it comes to popular brands of Sake rice wine, “Dassai (獺祭)” became a big hit several years ago and is in the spotlight now.
Dassai was presented to the former President of the United States, Obama by the Japanese prime minister, Abe when he visited Japan in 2014.
By the way, the prefecture where I live, Niigata is also famous as a Sake producing area in Japan, so I introduced Niigata’s 3 representative Sake brands before.
Omiki (御神酒) and Otoso (お屠蘇)
Apart from the Sake with brand names, have you ever heard that there are 2 traditional Sake rice wines that are drunken for celebration in Japan?
They are “Omiki (御神酒)” and “Otoso (お屠蘇)”. Then, what kinds of Sake are Omiki and Otoso? and when these festive rice wines are served?
Omiki usually refers to the Sake rice wine offered to the deities in the Japan’s “Shinto (神道)” religion.
Omiki is one of the essential offerings to Shinto shrines and household Shinto altars at festivals.
At the conclusion of the festive event, generally everyone who participated in the Shinto ritual is made to drink the sacred sake.
On the other hand, Otoso is the Sake rice wine drunk for good luck on New Year’s Day.
It is believed in Japan that Otoso can drive away evil spirits for the year. While sipping Otoso, we usually wish for a long and healthy life.
The lucky Sake is made by infusing a mixture of medicinal herbs called “Tososan (屠蘇散)” in Sake rice wine or Mirin sweet cooking rice wine.
Otoso is traditionally served with “Tosoki (屠蘇器)” (Amazon.com), which consists of “Choushi (銚子)” Sake decanter, “Sakazuki (盃)” Sake cups, the stand for Sakazuki “Sakazuki Dai (盃台)”, and the tray for these 3 Sake utensils “Bon (盆)”.