Friday, 23 April 2010

Sake-no-tare Jinja (Sah-keh-no-tah-ray Jeen-ja)

We took a little drive down the road the other day to visit another local shrine, this one honouring the kami (spirit) of alcohol. Yes, here in Sanda there is a shrine of the Shinto religion (Japan's native religion) to the demon liquor. Strange as it may seem to mix religion with alcohol anyone who has ever drank it knows that there is definetly something to be respected/feared in it. This respect the Japanese hold for alcohol (sake) is shown in their honourific form by adding o to the beginning of the word. So one must call it o-sake. When any word is prefaced with this o, it means that the Japanese are honouring the kami inherent in the subject. So water (mizu) is called 0-mizu, bento-boxes are called o-bento, sushi is called 0-zushi, you get the idea. This shrine we visited had large casks of sacred sake stored around the grounds and plenty of sitting places to enjoy these spirits. The architecture was also quite interesting as it's main gates stand in a rice paddy and the shrine is perched on a hill overlooking the fields. The woodwork of the building has many detailed spirits and animals carved into it. By the looks of it, sake-tare is a very old shrine, one of the interesting free cultural elements anyone can explore here in Kansai. So next time you crack a brewsky honour the kami and call it o-beer, and if in town come down and say a little prayer to the sake shrine, just remember to respect it.

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