Have you ever tried Japanese drinks? With the start of the Japanese food boom, Japanese drinks like nihonshu (alcoholic drink made using rice, commonly known as sake), shochu (distilled spirit made using barley, sweet potatoes, rice) and awamori (distilled spirit unique to Okinawa) have started becoming popular globally. However, you don’t have many chances of drinking Japanese drinks, do you?
We have great news for those who want to try sake one day or those who want to try shochu or awamori in Japan. You will have a chance to taste sake, shochu, and awamori for free!
Try Sake, Shochu & Awamori at airports in Japan
Campaigns that promote sake and shochu to international visitors are now being held at three airports that are the world’s gateway to Japan: Narita, Haneda, and Chubu Central International! You will find campaign booths at the duty-free area of each airport. You can not only try different sake, shochu, and awamori but also learn about their making processes, breweries, and the culture associated with these drinks.
Chubu Central International Airport
The campaign at Chubu Central International Airport is on until February 24, 2019. Sake tasting is being held at the Passenger Terminal on the third floor between 8:00 to 16:00 on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.
The campaign at Narita Airport is on until March 24, 2019. Sake tasting is being held at Terminal 1 between 8:30 to 17:30 and at Terminal 2 between 9:00 to 18:00 on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. For more details about each location, please check below.
The campaign at Haneda Airport is on until March 24, 2019. Sake tasting is being held at the International Flight Passenger Terminal on the third floor between 8:00 to 17:00 on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.
Types of Japanese drinks
There are generally three types of alcoholic beverages in Japan: sake, shochu, and awamori. Do you know the differences between them? People from abroad often think they are very similar but actually they are different in many ways. Simply, while sake is fermented, shochu and awamori is distilled. Let’s check our the other differences that make these drinks unique.
Let’s start from nihonshu, popularly known as “sake.” Depending on how much the rice grain is polished, the type of sake varies. Sake made from rice, water, koji (mold for fermentation) is called Junmai-shu, literally “pure rice wine.” Sake made from rice that is polished to about 30%, water, koji, and a small amount of distilled alcohol is called Honjozo-shu; this sake is more aromatic and has luster. Among Honjozo-shu, sake made using rice polished to at least 40% is called Ginjo-shu.
The alcohol content of sake is generally at 15 -16%. People usually prefer to drink it straight. You can enjoy sake either at room temperature, chilled, or warm in the cold winter months.
In Japanese, there is a phrase “sake-no-sakana” meaning snacks that go along with sake.
Since there are a variety of aromas and flavors depending on the type of sake such as dry and sweet, it might be interesting to find food pairings that will go well with your favorite sake.
Shochu and Awamori
Next, let’s talk about shochu and awamori. Commonly made from rice, potatoes, barley, brown sugar, or buckwheat, each producing region uses different ingredients so that the flavor of each shochu is considerably different. In addition, shochu has an average alcohol content of around 25%. It’s usually mixed with cold or warm water or soda when drinking.
One of the features of shochu and awamori is that they are good for health! They contain no sugar and no purine body. Furthermore, these are said to smoothen blood flow by keeping it thinner. Both shochu and awamori, not only go well with traditional Japanese cuisine but also with international cuisines including Chinese and French. You can fully enjoy shochu and awamori over meals no matter where you are.
Awamori is a distilled spirit from Okinawa that is made from rice. It usually has a high alcohol content. You can drink it straight or mix with cold or hot water.
Different from Korean Soju
Many people think Japanese shochu and awamori are the same as Korean soju. This is a big mistake. Shochu and awamori are typically made from rice, barley or potatoes, fermented using koji, and then distilled once in a pot still. Therefore, you can catch a whiff of the rich flavor of the ingredients. On the other hand, soju is made from molasses and other ingredients, is distilled several times in a column still and has an added sweetener. Thus, the ingredients and preparation methods between shochu/awamori and soju are quite different.
Visit Breweries and Distilleries
Sake Tourism is recommended for those who want to know more about the making process of sake, shochu and awamori, and especially, those of you who want to see these processes for real! The best way to know about Japanese drinks is to visit the places where these are made and directly meet their producers. Why don’t you stroll around the birthplace of your choice of sake and enjoy the local cuisine and traditional cultural activities? You can easily search for breweries and visit one at a time that suits you! Sake Tourism is a great way to get in-depth knowledge of this important aspect of Japanese culture.
Not satisfied yet? Then click here to know more on Japanese sake, shochu, and awamori. You can find basic information as well as advanced knowledge on this age-old culture of Japan!