Miki and Toso: Traditional Sake for Celebration Times

As you know, “Sake (酒)” is a quintessential Japanese alcoholic beverage that is widely enjoyed in many countries around the world, and in Japan, it’s said that there are over 1,400 sake breweries and more than 10,000 sake brands.

Among others, “Dassai (獺祭)” has become a big hit in recent years and is in the spotlight now. The sake was presented to the former President of the United States, Obama, by the Japanese prime minister, Abe, when he visited Japan in 2014.

Omiko (御神酒) and Otomo (お屠蘇)

Apart from sake products with brand names, have you ever heard that in Japan there are 2 types of traditional sake that are enjoyed in celebration times? which are called “Omiki (御神酒)” and “Otoso (お屠蘇)” respectively.

Then, what kinds of sake are these? and when are they served? For people who don’t know, this article will explain that.

O-Miki (神酒)

O-miki wine at a Shinto-style wedding

First off, Miki, also known as “O-Miki (御神酒)” or “Shinshu (神酒)”, generally refers to the sake that is offered to the deities in the state religion of Japan “Shinto (神道)” as in its name, “神” means “god” or “deity” in Japanese.

In the Shinto festival, the sake Omiki is one of the essential offerings to the shrine and household altar. At the conclusion of the festive event, traditionally, every adult who participated is made to drink the sacred sake.

O-Toso (屠蘇)

Toso wine and Tosoki

Meanwhile, Toso, also known as O-Toso, is the auspicious sake alcohol that is drunk for good luck on New Year’s Day or during the “Shogatsu (正月)” New Year’s celebrations.

It is believed in Japan that the sake of Otoso can drive away evil spirits, and while sipping it, we wish for long and healthy life.

As for the making, the lucky sake is prepared by infusing a blend of medicinal herbs called “Tososan (屠蘇散)” in sake or mirin (sweet cooking rice wine).

Traditionally, the sake Otoso is served with “Tosoki (屠蘇器)”, which consists of a “Choshi (銚子)” decanter, “Sakazuki (盃)” 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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