Miki and Toso: Traditional Sake Rice Wine for Celebration Times

As you know, “Sake (酒)” is the quintessential Japanese alcoholic drink that is widely enjoyed in many countries around the world, and 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)” has become a big hit in recent years and is in the spotlight now. The Sake, Dassai was presented to the former President of the United States, Obama, by the Japanese prime minister, Abe, when he visited Japan in 2014.

O-miki (御神酒) and O-toso (お屠蘇)

Apart from Sake with brand names, have you ever heard that there are 2 types of traditional Sake rice wine that are enjoyed in celebration times in Japan? which are called “O-miki (御神酒)” and “O-toso (お屠蘇)” respectively. Then, what kinds of Sake are they? and when are these auspicious rice wines served?

Miki (神酒)

O-miki wine at a Shinto-style wedding

Miki, also known as “Omiki (御神酒)” or “Shinshu (神酒)”, generally refers to the Sake rice wine that is offered to the deities in “Shinto (神道)”, one of the state religions of Japan, as the meaning of the Kanji Chinese character “神” is “god” or “deity”.

At Shinto festivals in Japan, O-miki is one of the essential offerings to the Shinto shrine and household Shinto altar. At the conclusion of the festive event, traditionally, every adult who participated in the Shinto ritual is made to drink the sacred sake.

Toso (屠蘇)

Toso wine and Tosoki

On the other hand, Toso, also known as Otoso, is the auspicious Sake rice wine that is drunk for good luck on New Year’s Day in Japan or during the “Shogatsu (正月)” New Year’s celebrations.

It is believed in Japan that the Toso wine can drive away evil spirits, and we wish for a long and healthy life, sipping Otoso during Shogatsu. The lucky Sake is made by infusing a blend of medicinal herbs called “Tososan (屠蘇散)” in Sake rice wine or Mirin sweet cooking rice wine.

The O-toso wine is traditionally served with “Tosoki (屠蘇器)”, which consists of a “Choushi (銚子)” Sake decanter, “Sakazuki (盃)” Sake cups, a stand for Sakazuki “Sakazuki-Dai (盃台)”, and a tray for these 3 Sake utensils “Bon (盆)”.

(Reference Pages: Wikipedia 神酒, 屠蘇 )


Hi, I'm Tomo, a Japanese blogger living in Niigata Prefecture, Japan. For the purpose of enriching your life, I would like to introduce things about Japan on this blog, especially unique Japanese products, cooking recipes, cultures, and facts and trivia.

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