NIPPONIA No. 44 March 15, 2008
Special FeatureHere’s to Japanese sake!
A miko shrine maiden (right) pours sacred sake into a cup held by the bride (left). The bride and groom will drink from the same cup, indicating their willingness to share the troubles that may arise in the years ahead.
In Japan, you are considered an adult when you reach your 20th birthday. The legal drinking age is 20. Coming-of-age ceremonies are held throughout the country each year on the second Monday of January. Dressed in a festive kimono, this woman is drinking o-miki sake to celebrate her new status.
Sakazuki cups (top left of photo) and a choshi sake container for New Year’s and other auspicious occasions. The bright red and the shiny black are offset with a gold and silver makie design, creating an even more celebratory mood.
Coming out on top in an election, a sports event, or some other venture is cause for celebration. Here they break open the top of a keg of sake that was dedicated to a god. The keg top is called kagami (literally, “mirror”), and the ritual is called kagami-biraki.
Before the beginning of a construction project, a shrine priest may come to perform the jichinsai ritual. He calls on the god associated with this piece of land to ensure a safe construction. O-miki sake is offered to the god, then sprinkled on the four corners of the site to purify it.
It is the custom for the winner of a sumo tournament to drink from a huge cup of sake. The photo shows one of the current yokozuna champions, Hakuho.