Japanese vocab list: Sake

This is the first of (I hope) many posts containing Japanese vocabulary lists organized helpfully by topic or theme – in this case, sake! I find vocabulary sticks better when I learn related words together, and when I can use them in a real-life situation.

The story behind this list: On my recent trip to Japan with friends, I was asked to lead a group on a side trip to Niigata Prefecture, which is where I lived for two years as a participant on the JET program. It’s pretty rural and not often visited by tourists, but it is known for excellent sake (due to its equally excellent rice and crazy amounts of snow), and we had some hardcore sake nerds in our group. I asked an old friend for a recommendation and found a brewery (Imayo Tsukasa in Niigata City) that offered tours in English, but when I contacted them it turned out their English speaker would be out of town on business when we would be there. So we decided to study up on our sake vocab and forge ahead. I created this list and had it vetted by native speakers on Lang-8. (A few folks even suggested words to add.)

I actually didn’t end up using much of this vocab during the tour, but some words, such as 地酒, 酒造, and 利き酒, came in handy at various points during the trip. And if you’re going to talk about sake, you’ll want to know most of these! We had lots of opportunities to use these words during our various sake stops in Niigata – which I hope to write about in another post 🙂

日本酒の種類 Varieties of sake

純米酒 じゅんまいしゅ pure rice sake (no added alcohol)
本醸造 ほんじょうぞうしゅ sake with a small amount of distilled alcohol added
特別酒 とくべつしゅ ”special”; sake with a milling percentage of <60%
吟醸酒 ぎんじょうしゅ sake with a milling percentage of <60%, brewed using low-temperature fermentation
大吟醸 だいぎんじょう sake with a milling percentage of <50%, brewed using low-temperature fermentation

地酒 じざけ local sake
原酒 げんしゅ undiluted sake (20-22% alcohol content)
樽酒 たるざけ cask sake, cedar sake
濁り酒 にごりざけ unfiltered sake
生酒 なまざけ unpasteurized sake
古酒 こしゅ aged sake
生もと きもと・山廃 やまはい traditional-style sake varieties brewed with natural yeast, with no lactic acid added

酒造り Sake-making

酒造 しゅぞう sake brewing
酒蔵 さかぐら brewery, storeroom
杜氏 とうじ master sake brewer
酒米 さかまい rice for sake brewing
米搗き こめつき rice polishing
精米歩合 せいまいぶあい milling percentage (the smaller, the better!)
麹 こうじ koji; sake starter
酒母 しゅぼ yeast mash, yeast starter
諸味 もろみ fermenting mash
濾す こす to press
酒かす さけかす sake lees; byproduct of pressing (often used in cooking)
濾過 ろか filtration
見学 けんがく tour, study by observation, field trip (Not strictly a sake term, obviously, but this is the word the brewery we visited used to describe its tour.)

日本酒を飲むこと Drinking sake

試飲 しいん sampling a drink; tasting
利き酒 ききざけ sake tasting (comparing several different types of sake)
おちょこ sake cup
杯 はい sake cup; counter for cupfuls
徳利 とっくり sake carafe
辛口 からくち dry
甘口 あまくち sweet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s