Sake Trade Glossary

Find the definition of the terms used in Japanese Sake industry



Amakuchi(甘口) sweet flavor in Sake. Sake that tastes sweeter than neutral taste.
Amami(甘み) sweetness
Amazake(甘酒) A sweet and non-alcoholic drink made from koji, rice and water
Amino Acid(アミノ酸) Amino acid in Sake includes 20 varieties such as glutamic acid, proline and alanine. Sake contains certain amount of amino acid such as 1.0. Normally it is written on the label. High amino acidity means more Umami or thick taste.
Arabashiri(荒ばしり) The first Sake come out from moromi before applying any pressure. It tends to taste a bit rough, but elegant aroma. We also call it “Hatsudori”
Aru-ten(アル添) Sake to which distilled alcohol (brewer’s alcohol) has been added. This word is an abbreviation of “Arukoru Tenka(アルコール添加)” meaning addition of alcohol
Aspergillus Oryzae(ニホンコウジカビ) Scientific name of koji mold
Atsukan(熱燗) Hot sake
Akiagari (秋あがり) It is sake brewed in early spring and stored during summer. Around September, when the outside temperature and the temperature of the sake is about the same, the sake is released without being pasteurized the second time (hi-ire). The main characteristic of this sake is a deep matured aroma. IT is sold as a seasonal sake and is a limited production only in September and October


Bodai Moto(菩提酛) The ancient and complex fermentaiton starter method. It is said to be created in Edo Era. Temples used to brew sake with Bodai Moto, so the sake made with Bodai moto is called as “Monk’s sake”
Binzume-yosui(瓶詰用水) Water used for cleaning bottles, warimizu and cleaning equipment
Brewer’s Alcohol(醸造アルコール) Distilled alcohol, used in making a certain types of Sake (Regular sake, Honjozo, Ginjo and Daiginjo). In the case of premium sake, brewer’s alcohol is added in small quantities to enhance the aroma ,taste and the texture not to increase the volume of sake
BY(醸造年度) It is the abbreviation of “Brewing Year”, showing the year in which a sake was brewed. BY is sometimes expressed using Japanese Emperor’s year (e.g. BY30 means Heisei 30) or using the Western calendar (e.g. 2019BY)


Choko (O-choko)(猪口/お猪口) Small cup for drinking sake. It is often used in conjunction with a small ceramic flask called Tokkuri


Daiginjo (大吟醸) Premium grade of Sake with a rice polish ratio of 50% or less. More aroma. Please refer to SAKE KNOWLEDGE page
Dakidaru (暖気樽) A canister which can hold water of varying degrees, used for adjusting tempreture of shubo / moto (yeast starter)
Dekoji (出麹) Last step involved in rice koji production; when the growth of rice koji reaches a desired level, it is removed from the koji-muro (koji room)
Doburoku(濁酒) Unfiltered sake. It is cloudy and chunky



Fudoki (風土記) The ancient records of culture and geography of different provinces in Japan, compiled after 713 and completed over a 20-year period
Fukuro-tsuri (袋吊り) It is a method to extract Sake from moromi in Joso process, by hanging cotton bags with moromi. Comparing to pressing, it take time but clearer Sake can be extracted. It is also same as “Shizuku sake” and “Shizuku tori“
Fukuryusui (伏流水) It is a river that runs wholly or partly beneath the ground surface – one where the riverbed does not represent the surface of the Earth
Fune (槽) The equipment for pressing moromi and separating lees from fresh sake
Futsushu (普通酒) It literally means “regular sake” but could be also called “table sake”. This sake is one that does not qualify as “special designation sake” (such as Junmai, Ginjo)


Gaikonainan (外硬内軟) Literally means firm on outside and tender on inside, referring to the ideal condition of steamed rice for sake
Genmai (玄米) Unpolished rice; brown rice
Genshu (原酒) Sake without any additional water. Normally, in order to balance the sake taste quality and alcohol content, brewery add water to finalize Sake. Genshu is the Sake before the finalize process so it is as it brewed
Ginjo (吟醸) Premium grade classification of sake with a rice polish ratio of 60% or less; usually light and fragrant
Ginjoka (吟醸香) The term used to describe the refined aromas of Ginjo
Go (合) 180ml in the traditional Japanese measurement. The common bottle size is 720ml (four Go)
Gohyakumangoku (五百万石) One of four major renowned shuzo-koutekimai varieties. It grows best in the hokuriku region such as Niigata, Fukui, Toyama and Ishikawa Prefecture
Gokosui (御香水) Quality spring water from Fushimi region of Kyoto Prefecture; very soft, known to produce feminine sake
Guinomi (ぐい呑み) Vassel for drinking sake, usually larger than “choko“


Happoshu(発泡酒) General term meaning Sparkling sake
Hatsudori(初どり) Same as “Arabashiri“. Please refer to arabashiri
Hatsuzoe(初添え) First day of “Sandan Jikomi”, where rice koji, water and steamed rice are added to the yeast starter
Hattan Nishiki(八反錦) One of four major renowned shuzo-koutekimai varieties. It grows best in Hiroshima Prefecture
Heikoufukuhakkou(並行複発酵) The multiple-parallel fermentation process, where rice koji converts rice starches into fermentable glucose, and simultaneously and in the same tank, yeast converts glucose into alcohol
Hiire(火入れ) The sake pasteurization process
Hikikomi(引き込み) First step involved in rice koji production, where steamed rice is wrapped for 1-2 hours to equalize tempreture
Hineka(老香) This means “Aged sake”. Unpleasant aged smell that comes from sake that is beyond its prime or improperly aged
Hiochikin(火落菌) Hiochikin is a harmful lactic acid bacteria that can cause sake to spoil. Spoilage happens through excessive lactic acid fermentation in the finished sake
Hiyaoroshi(冷やおろし) It is sake brewed in early spring and stored during summer. Around September, when the outside temperature and the temperature of the sake is about the same, the sake is released without being pasteurized the second time (hi-ire). The main characteristic of this sake is a deep matured aroma. IT is sold as a seasonal sake and is a limited production only in September and October
Honjozo(本醸造) It is a sake grade classification, which indicates that a very small amount of pure distilled alcohol was added. The seimaibuai is less than 70%


Isshobin(一升瓶) A 1.8 Litter bottle of sake
Izakaya(居酒屋) A relaxed and casual Japanese sake pub which offers a selection of small Japanese dishes to accompany sake


Janome (蛇の目) The blue ringed design seen at the bottom of professional sake tasting cups. It helps to see the color and clarity of sake
Jizake (地酒) It is local sake, or sake from the countryside, produced by the microbreweries
Jomai (蒸米) Steamed rice; the rice steaming process
Joso (上槽) It is the process which extract Sake from moromi. Please find more information from SAKE KNOWLEDGE page
Jozo alcohol (醸造アルコール) Brewer’s alcohol, referring to the alcohol added to the moromi
Jozo-yosui (醸造用水) Water with beneficial minerals, used for sake production
Juku-shu (熟酒) One of the four classifications established by the Sake Service Institute, referring to sake with fragrance and depth. Aged sake falls mainly into this category
Junmaishu (純米酒) Sake made only from rice, rice koji, and water
Jun-shu (醇酒) One of the four classifications established by the Sake Service Institute, referring to sake with a full body and subtle fragrance. Mainly junmai grade and sake produced using traditional kimotokei-shubo fall into this category


Kakemai (掛け米) The rice used to produce moromi. 70% of rice used is Kakemai
Kanpai (乾杯) Japanese word for “Cheers!”. It literally means “Empty cup”
Kanzen-muroka (完全無濾過) It is sake made without any filtration. The main purpose of filtration (roka) is to make sake clear. But filtration tends to strip components more than necessary, resulting in a loss of certain characteristics. To avoid this, kanzen-muroka is made without usinf filtration machines or adding activated carbon. Thus, kanzen-muroka is tinted green or has a yellow hue, which is the original color of sake (see also muroka compare with nigorizake )
Karakuchi (辛口) A word to describe sake that is dry in flavor
Karashi (枯らし) The process of drying polished riice for 14 to 30 days to level our moisture, just a step before washing
Kassei-seishu (活性清酒) / Happousei-seishu (発泡性清酒) It is sparkling sake produced by either secondary fermentation, like champagne, or by injecting carbon dioxide. It ranges from low alcohol content to high alcohol content. This type of sake has a slightly cloudy appearance, a sweet finish, and has gained popularity in recent years
Kasu (粕) ”Lees”in English. This is the unwanted residue left behind after the fermented sake has been pressed
Ki-ippon (生一本) It is a word which only refers to junmai sake and means that the sake was brewed in a single brewery, and that distilled alcohol was not added
Ki-koji (黄麹) Aspergillus orzae or yellow koji mold, one of three koji types. Ki-koji is used in sake production as well as in soy sause and miso
Kijoshu (貴醸酒) It is sake made by adding sake instead of water in the final stage of Sandan jikomi. Kijoshu is characterized by sweetness and an amber color. This type of sake often accompanies dessert
Kimoto (生酛) It is a starter made through an intensive process of difficult labor called yamaoroshi, in which rice and koji are purred together to encourage the conversion of starches to sugars. In modern sake-making, this method is used only about 1% of the time. However, some breweries have revived the method because it produces sake with a deep aroma which is also suitable for warming
Kimotokei-shubo (生酛系酒母) One of two traditional which involves the labor intensive yamaoroshi process
Kiokejikomi (木桶仕込み) They are wooden barrels used for making sake. Until the development of porcelain enamel tanks in the early Showa Period, sake had been made in wooden barrels. After the advent of porcelain enamel tanks, wooden barrels were generally not used because they can leak and do not protect the sake as well from exposure to air. However,, recently some sake breweries have revived the use of wooden barrels, seeking the distinctive aroma and unique characteristics.
Kirikaeshi (切り返し) The third step in rice koji production. Clumps of rice are loosened apart, then gathered to wrap, for retaining moisture and to equalize temperature
Koji (麹) It is a fungus used to make rice malt(Kome koji). It is also used to produce Japanese products such as soy source and miso
Kojimai (麹米) The rice used to produce malted rice(Kome koji)
Kouontouka-shubo (高温糖化酒母) It is one example of sokujo-moto and the latest in shubo-making technology. The shubo is kept at a high temperature (around 50-60 degrees Celsius or 112-140 degrees Fahrenheit) to remove unnecessary microorganisms and quickly saccharify the rice before yeast is added. This method can reduce costs by saving time
Koku (石) A Unit of measurement of the production output of a sake brewery. One koku is equal to 180 Liters of
Komekoji / rice koji (米麹) Steamed rice inoculated with the koji mold, which produces the enzymes necessary for breaking down rice starches into fermentable glucoses
Koshiki (甑) Rice steaming vat
Koshu (古酒) Aged sake
Kuchikami-no sake (口噛みノ酒) Mouth-chew sake, an ancient form of sake produced by men and women chewing rice and spitting it out into a pot, where naturally occurring enzymes in the saliva took its course to convert rice starches into fermentable glucose
Kun-shu (薫酒) One of the four classification types, established by the Sake Service Institute, referring to highly fragrant and light sake. Daiginjo and ginjo grade sake fall under this category
Kura (蔵) Sake brewery. It could be the same meanings of “Sakagura(酒蔵)”
Kurabito (蔵人) Brewery workers, oftentimes farmers and fishermen, turned to seasonal sake brewers, leaving their hometowns from fall until springtime
Kuramoto (蔵元)・ The owner (usually hereditary) of a sake brewery
Kuro-koji (黒麹) Aspergillus awamori or black koji mold, used to produce awamori, a distilled spirit unique to the tropical islands of Okinawa
Kyubetsu-seido (級別制度) The sake grading system of Japan from 1943 to 1992. This unfair system was based solely on the breweries’ ability to pay, with premium grades being granted to well-financed breweries, independent of its actual quality



Masu (升) A small wooden box traditionally used for measuring rice and drinking sake.
Miyamizu (宮水) Quality spring water from the Nada region of Hyogo Prefecture, renowned for producing masculine character sake.
Mizokiri (溝切り) A rice cultivation technique, where trenches are created in the muddy rice paddy for an even distribution of water.
Mori (盛り) The fourth step involved in rice koji production, where rice is divided from the large batch into small boxes for better temperature control.
Moromi (醪) Sake mash consist of Shubo(Sake starter), Koji, Rice and Water. If you squeeze moromi after fermentation, you will get Sake.
Moto (酛) Same as Shubo.
Mushimai (蒸し米) Same as Jomai.
Mutoka (無濾過) It referes to clear sake that has not been fine-filtered with activated carbon. The main purpose of filtration (roka) is to make clear sake. However, filtration tends to strip more components than necessary. By not filtering with activated carbon, the loss of certain characteristics may be avoided.


Nakaboshi (中干し) A process involved in sake rice cultivation, where is drained out from the rice paddy to strengthen rice plants.
Nakashigoto (仲仕事) The fifth step involved in rice koji production, where rice is tossed to dissipate naturally occurring heat created by the growing koji mold.
Nakazoe (仲添え) / Naka-jikomi (仲仕込み) The third day of Sandan jikomi in moromi (sake mash) production, where rice koji, steamed rice and water are added.
Namazake (生酒) , Nakachozo-shu (生貯蔵) , Namazume-shu (生詰め) Most sake is pasteurized by momentarily heating the sake. ① Once after filtration and let it age. ② After aging, for the second time before bottling. Namazake is sake not pasteurized at all. “Nama” means “raw” in Japanese. Namachozo-shu is heat-pasteurized only once, after aging right before bottling. This type of sake is known for its fresh flavor. Namazume-shu is heat-pateurized only once, right after the filtration process and before aging.
Nigorizake (濁り酒) Filtered with a coarse cloth, which allows much of the rice solids in the moromi to remain, resulting in sake with a cloudy or milky color.
Nihonshu (日本酒) Literally means Japanese sake.
Nihonshudo (日本酒度) Also known as the Sake Meter Value (SMV), is a numerical expression of the degree of dryness or sweetness that utilizes the specific gravity system that measures the gravity of sugar content. Water is zero and sake with a heavier specific gravity, sweet sake is expressed as a negative number (-) while sake with a lighter specific gravity is expressed as a positive number (+). Thus, a sake with a SMV of negative (=) 5 will be much sweeter than a sake with an SMV of positive (+) 5.
Nuka (糠) The powder that is the outer portion of polished rice kernels. This powder is often collected and re-sold by sake brewery.


Odori (踊り) The second day of sandan jikomi, a resting of moromi to better promote propagation of yeast.
Omachi (雄町) One of four major renowned Shuzo-kotekimai verieties. It grows best in Okayama prefecture.
Ori (滓) The sediment from fresh pressed sake, which settles at the bottom of the aging tank.
Oribiki (滓引き) The process used to remove sediments from the bottom of the aging tanks filled with fresh pressed sake.
Origarami (滓がらみ) / Orizake (滓酒) It is sake made by contact with lees which sank to the bottom of the aging tank. Lees are mostly comprised of dead yeast which releases umami (amino acids). Thus, this rare type of sake contains more umami than regular sake.


Pasteurisation Same as Hiire.



Rice Main ingredient of Sake. There is a type of rice regarding their use which are the one to eat or to brew. There are some species of Sake rice, such as Yamada Nishiki, Gohyakumangoku, Omachi…etc Depending on the specie, there is a difference in tastes.
Roka (濾過) The sake filtering process. Most often this filtration step is done using powdered charcoal and paper filter in a filtering machine


Sakekasu (酒粕) Sake lees separated from liquid (sake) after pressing moromi.
Sando (酸度) It is the numerical expression of acid levels in sake. Sake mostly contains lactic acid, malic acid and succinic acid. Generally sake with high acid levels tastes rich and dry, while sake with low acid tastes light and sweet.
Seimaibuai (精米歩合) It is the percentage of the remaining rice grain after polishing. The seimaibuai is calculated by comparing the original weight of the rice of the wight after polishing ([weight of remaining rice] divided by [original weight] × 100 = seimaibuai). The rice polish ratio is the basis of the sake classification.
Seishu (清酒) The official product name for sake in Japan. Seishu, translated literally means clear sake.
Shubo (酒母) Sake starter. We also call it “Moto“. It is made of Koji, Rice, Water and Yeast. The quality of shubo decides the overall image of Sake, so it is a back-born of taste of Sake.
Shinpaku (真白) Shinpaku is the white and opaque part at the center of the rice. Most of its component is starch (protein, lipid, and mineral can be seen at the external side of the rice), but because it is hollow and soft compared to the exterior, light reflects irregularly and makes it look cloudy. Rice with shinpaku is necessary because the hypha of the koji mold can reach to the center easily and it helps the saccharification of rice in the making of shubo and moromi.
Shinshu (新酒)/ Shiboritate(しぼりたて) It is the classification for sake released during the fiscal year. In the sake industry, the fiscal year or brewery year (B.Y.) begins on July 1st and ends on June 30th of the following year.
Shiro-koji (白麹菌) Aspergillius kawachi or white koji mold; a mutant form of black koji, used to produce shochu (Japanese distilled alcohol).
Shizuku sake (雫酒) Same as “Shizuku tori” and “Fukuro tsuri”. Please refer to Fukuro tsuri.
Shizuku tori (雫取り) Same as “Shizuku tori” and “Fukuro sake”. Please refer to Fukuro tsuri.
Shuzo-koutekimai (酒造好適米) Sake rice used exclusively for sake brewing, versus food rice used in foods.
Shuzo-yosui (酒造用水) Water used for sake production, which is divided into two categories; jozo-yosui and binzume-yosui.
Simaishigoto (仕舞い仕事) The sixth step involved in rice koji production, where rice is tossed to release the built-up heat, and is spread out into boxes with grooves to reduce moisture.
SMV (Sake Meter Value) Same as Nihonshudo.
So-shu (爽酒) One of four classification types established by the Sake Service Institute, referring to light and smooth sake. Mainly Honjozo and nama or draft sake fall into this category.
Sokujo-moto (速醸酛) The abbreviation for sokujokei-shubo.
Sokujokei-shubo (速醸系酒母) The modern, and more prominent of the two techniques for producing the yeast starter. Also referred to as sokujo-moto for its quick production cycle duly through use of commercially available lactic acid.
Souhaze-gata (総破精型) A style of rice koji, where the koji fungus is let to penetrate the entire surface and deep into the core of the rice nernel.
Sumisake (澄み酒) A Term used to describe clear sake, used in Edo period.
Su-roka (素濾過) Sake filtered without the use of the carbon material.


Tanso-roka(炭素濾過) Carbon filtration of sake, involving the use of activated carbon, which effectively boosts the filtering process by absorbing unwanted elements.
Taru zake(樽酒) It is sake aged in wooden barrels, usually made from Japanese cedar. This infuses the sake with the distinctive aroma of the wood.
Tei-arukorushu(低アルコール酒) Refers to sake with a low alcohol content. In the modern era, consumes developed a preference for low alcoholic beverages. To meet this needs, low alcohol sakes tend to have alcohol content below 12%. A recent example of popular low alcohol sake is sparkling sake (compare with genshu)
Tobingakoi(斗瓶囲い) Bottle-collected sake referring to the glass jug used to collect sake droplets through the fukuro-tsuri pressing method. (same as shizuku-zake)
Toji(杜氏) The Brew-Master who manages the entire staff and sake brewing process.
Tokomomi(床もみ) The second step of rice koji production, where rice is evenly spread out on a large table and inoculated with a sprinkling of koji fungus spores. Rice is gently rolled around to assure even distribution of koji, then enclosed in cloth to retain moisture and to assure equal temperature distribution. 
Tomezoe(留添え) / Tome-jikomi(留仕込み) The fourth day of sandan jikomi in moromi production, where rice koji, steamed rice, and water are added.
Touka(糖化) Saccharification, a chemical process of converting complex carbohydrates or starches into simple, fermentable glucose.
Tsukihaze-gata(突き破精型) A type of rice koji, where koji fungus penetrates to the center of rice kernel, but it sporadic on the outer surface.




Water(水) Water in Japan tend to be softer in the world for the water used daily scene. Nevertheless, as you can see from geographic information from JAPAN KNOWLEDGE page there are a lot of mountains in Japan, so water from the mountains tend to be harder. Harder the water, Sake tends to be dry and light.
Warimizu(割水) The part of the sake brewing process, where genshu raw sake is “watered down”.



Yamadanishiki(山田錦) It is one of four major Shuzo-kotekimai varieties. It grow best in Hyogo, Okayama, Saga and Kumamoto Prefectures. Currently, Yamadanishiki is known as the best overall rice.
Yamahai(山廃)/ Yamaoroshi-haishi-moto (山卸し廃止酛) It is one of the two traditional kimotokei-shubo production methods, without the laborious yamaoroshi step of hand mashing the rice. yamahai means abolishing yamaoroshi, which gives insight to how strenuous the manual labor involved was.
Yamaoroshi(山卸し) It is the traditional and difficult labor of making the starter by hours of ramming an oar-like pole into a mixture of rice and koji. It was thought that rice and koji had to be pureed to work properly together and convert starches to sugars. This method has been replaced by yamahai.



Latest Articles

See More