Sharing a glass of sake is synonymous with Japanese history and hospitality, deeply symbolic and at the heart of nearly every traditional ceremony, celebration and gathering. The complex flavor of the fermented rice spirit, at once sweet and dry, celebrates a grain that has been a beauty and dietary staple for centuries. Though enjoyed year-round, Oct. 1 is officially designated as Sake Day because it marks the traditional beginning of the brewing season.
“Though enjoyed year-round, Oct. 1 is officially designated as Sake Day ...”
Geisha were among the first to discover sake’s beautifying benefits, inside and out. Every time I visit, my geisha friends insist on pouring me a glass, telling me they drink at least two small glasses (called ochoko) a day keep skin soft and radiant. As sake warms the body internally while simultaneously stimulating circulation, it is thought to help the body eliminate toxins and comfort aching muscles. Two ochoko were believed to be “just right” to warm the body without overheating it (not to mention making the rest of the day feel a little lighter, too).
Another favorite part of the geisha beauty ritual is pouring a bottle (or up to two liters) of sake into a steamy bath and soaking for at least 30 minutes. Rich in enzymes and 20 amino acids resulting from the fermentation process, sake gently exfoliates the uppermost layers of skin while the minerals and vitamins boosts skin’s natural moisture-retaining properties.
Sake has also been used as a brightening, refreshing treatment when applied directly to the skin. Simply dip a cotton ball or a cloth in some sake and pat gently onto a freshly-washed face. Allow the sake to air-dry completely, and follow with the rest of your beauty ritual.