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sake and mysticism


Everyone could use a good patron deity, and sake brewers are no
exception. Sake brewing is hard work, and deriving precisely the sake you
want from a process fraught with potential mishaps can take the fun out
of it. It can also be dangerous work as well. So it doesn $B!G (Bt hurt
to know someone $B!G (Bs looking out for you.
The main sake-brewing patron deity is a character called
Matsuo-sama. Without exception, every sakagura in the country has a small
kami-dana (in-house shrine) to some deity, usually Matsuo-sama.
Before each brewing season begins at a sakagura, the owners,
the brewers and a Shinto clergyman gather in the kura before the kamidana
and pray for a successful and safe brewing season.
Nihonshu has from long ago been closely tied to religion (Shinto at
least) in Japan. References to the close relationship between sake and
deities are to be found in Japan $B!G (Bs oldest histories.
Sake is used in religious ceremonies in all facets of life. The
most commonly seen example of this is weddings, where small glass of sake
is ceremoniously exchanged between the bride and groom. Another instance
where sake is ceremoniously tasted is on New Year $B!G (Bs Day.
Also, before each Sumo tournament, the ring is blessed and
dedicated by a Shinto priest, and in the center of the ring, sake (as
well as rice) is buried. This is an offering to the gods in the earth for
the safety of the competitors.
Similarly, when a new building is constructed, a similar
$B!H (Bgroundbreaking $B!I (B ceremony takes place on the lot, for
safety's sake.


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