Deeply Japan

The more you explore, the more you get.

Saka-ba     酒場

Japan has a unique culture of Saka-ba (a pub, a bar, a tavern) . Japan’s “Izakaya”style Saka-ba is not very commonly seen in other countries. In today’s Japan, young people prefer a big “Izakaya”chain run by big corporations, but in this article, I’d like to see a small “Izakaya”run by individual owners as a symbol of Japanese “Saka-ba”culture.

In such an Izakaya, there is typically a wooden counter, and an owner, called“Taisho (male)”or “Okami (female),”is standing behind the counter. Taisho or Okami often does not seem to be very friendly or welcoming, but you don’t have to be afraid of them. Sometimes they may dress down badly behaved customers, but customers should not be angry with them. Drinking Sake is one of the pleasures we have, but for Japanese, Saka-ba is also a sort of training hall for a life. Behaving in a way that is suitable to Saka-ba is one of the conditions to be considered as a good adult.

Now, I’d like to introduce you what to do to become a Japanese Saka-ba master, which is hard but fun.

001 Sake     酒

A story about Sake,
about which Japanese people do not know

In Japan, generally speaking, “Sake” should mean “Nihon-shu,”Japanese Sake (Japan’s national liquor brewed from rice grains. Sake literally stands for alcoholic drinks). Recently, Japanese Whiskies are becoming very popular outside of Japan, and Japan’s wines and beers are not so bad either. However, I would argue that it is still Japanese Sake, when we say just “Sake” in Japan. At any rate, simply its tradition is incomparable to other alcoholic drinks. It has to be Japanese Sake that Samurais are hobnobbing together; no other alcohol drinks can replace it.

Japan is a country of rice harvest culture, and Japanese Sake, brewed from rice grains, should not be just a life amenity but something that Japanese people live on, which intimately intertwined with our lives. And Japanese people have developed a precious, unique culture of Japanese Sake brewing since ancient era. It may sound as self-praise as I am a Japanese, but I do strongly believe that Japan’s Sake brewing is really an excellent culture.

However, to tell the truth, in today’s Japan, Japanese Sake is not so popular. Beers and wines are more consumed. It is not because Japanese Sake is tasteless, but because there are many Japanese people who do not know about Japanese Sake. It may sound strange, but it is true, and there are many complex stories. Set them aside for the time being, now let me start to talk about Japanese Sake stories that Japanese people do not know.

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Basic Understanding 知識編

AuthorToru Sakazaki

Toru Sakazaki

President, Sakaba Bunka Kenkyusho L.L.C.
Born in 1967. Have long experience working in advertising industry. Caught by the profoundity of Japan's Sake culture when he was still just one of Sake lovers. Felt the sense of urgency for the scarcity of places that can appreciate the true value of Japan's traditional Sake culture to offer authentic Sake, opened a tavern "Junmai-shu Sanpin" in Tokyo, Shibuya, in 2011. Also founded Sakaba Bunka Kenkyusho (An Institute for Japanese Sakaba Culture) L.L.C in March 2016, in addition to run an advertising company, continuously pursuing the study about Japan's Sake brewing culture and Sakaba culture.