October 1 is designated as "Sake Day" in Japan - a PR campaign begun by the large sake brewers in 1978 in an attempt to increase sales of Japan's national tipple.
New rice is harvested in the autumn months and the first sake of the year is traditionally brewed at this time. A number of sake-related events take place in department stores around the country.
At the lower end of the sake market is One Cup Ozeki - a cultural icon since the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. Developed so spectators could have a crafty swig while watching the Olympic events, One Cup Ozeki comes in a sturdy 200ml glass cup, with a metal ring-pull top and a convenient plastic cover.
Usually associated with the heavy drinking habits of the homeless, day-laborers and impoverished students, cup sake is available in convenience stores, vending machines and most liquor shops, retailing at about 220 yen (2.10 USD) for the standard 200ml cup.
A number of companies now produce cup sake including Kyoto-based giants Gekkeikan and local sakes (jisake) and high quality sakes also appear in cup form. Ozeki also market a 1.5 300ml version complete with a tiny bag of salt and sesame seeds as a "snack" to go with your 15%-16% alcohol sake hit. A white label karakuchi range at 13% alcohol complements the classic blue label.
The glass cups themselves can also be recycled as vases, beer mugs or as containers for nails, screws and nuts and bolts, which is what I use them for. Kampai!
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Monday, October 06, 2008