Ancient Sake Made by Beautiful Maidens?

Did you know that the possible origin of Japanese sake was made by chewing method by beautiful young maidens?

Although the origin of sake is actually left unclear, it is said that the probable origin of sake was in the Nara period (710-794 AD).
Sake is mentioned several times in the Kojiki, Japan's first written history, which was compiled in 712 AD.

In ancient Japan, long before producing sake out of rice, water and koji mold (麹, Aspergillus oryzae),there is an ancient legend that the origin of Japanese sake comes from "Kuchikami-zake (liquor made by chewing with one's mouth)."
This was a primitive alcohol brewing method, in which people made alcohol by chewing boiled rice with saliva in their mouths in order to take in wild yeast from the air to ferment the mixture and make alcohol.
This "Kuchikami-sake" method is said to be carried out by beautiful young maidens in the community. There is even a theory that Japanese verb 'kamosu' (producing sake) derives from 'kamu' (chewing), which is the remainder of this tradition.

Might sound gross, but be relieved ;)
The tradition has died out so you don't have to worry about drinking that kind of things now!
By the beginning of 8c, sake which is made from rice, water, and koji mold became the major fermenting method.
Sake was used for Shinto ceremonies, court festivals, as it was strongly believed that fermentation was a divine process, and sake had a power on purification.

In 8-9th centuries,the sake production was monopolised by the government and sake was only utilised in religious rituals.
For this reason, sake was a very special drink on festivals and rituals, out of reach from ordinary people.
However,in the 10th century, temples and shrines began to brew sake, and they became the main centers of production for the next 500 years.
The Tamon-in Diary, written by abbots of Tamon-in (temple) from 1478 to 1618, records many details of brewing in the temple.
The diary even shows that pasteurization and the process of adding ingredients to the main fermentation mash in three stages already had became a routine in making sake, which both have been handed down to modern sake brewing.

At that time, temples and shrines had their taxes payed by rice from the people. Also they had enough clear water, vast spaces, and priests who had the brewing techniques.

Thanks to them, ordinary people eventually gained the chance to enjoy sake in everyday lives, even if it is not a festival day.