Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Kochi Life Q&A : Japanese Sake

   Starting this issue, we will be including a section in Tosa Wave called “Kochi Life Q&A”, where we answer various questions from foreigners living in Kochi about everyday life here. We’re not sure how long this section will last, but we are celebrating our first installment by writing about one of Kochi’s famous products—Japanese sake (pronounced saké).
Q:When I try to order sake at an izakaya, I see the sizes “1合 (1 gō)” and “2合 (2 gō).” But how much sake is in each of these? Also, at what temperature should I drink sake, and what do the temperature words “atsukan” and “nurukan” mean?

A:1 gō is 180ml, and 2 gō is 360ml. For your reference, 10 gō equals 1 shō (1.8L). There is a contest held in Konan City on the last Sunday of every April where contestants drink 1 shō of sake all at once. They are judged on their speed and drinking style. This is surely an event perfect for Kochi, where we have many heavy drinkers.
   As for the appropriate temperature to drink sake, it is difficult to explain definitively because it depends on the type of sake, the person drinking it, and even the season. An izakaya that does not have any particular designation will likely serve “atsukan” (50-55°C) sake by default. Those who do not like sake this warm can order their sake at “nurukan” (30-40°C) or “jō-on” (15-20 °C).
   The types of sake that are served at the “hiya” temperature (5-10 °C) are limited, and they are often excluded from the all-you-can-drink menu. The reason for this is that the types of sake classified as “hiya” are often relatively expensive. However, as noted above, temperature preferences and tastes vary by person, so there is nothing wrong with enjoying a relatively cheap sake at the “hiya” temperature!

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