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Kuchikamizake (口噛み酒, " "mouth-chewed sake") is a kind of rice-based alcohol produced by a process involving human saliva as a fermentation starter. Kuchikamizake was one type of the earliest sake. Kuchi means "mouth", kami means "chew" and zake is the rendaku form of "sake". "Kuchikami no sake" is a synonym.


Kuchikamizake has an opaque, whitish colour and tastes quite sour. It is made when someone, ideally a virginal girl[1][2], chews cooked rice and then spits the resulting liquid into a container. The resulting mixture is then left to ferment, with the enzymes from the chewer's saliva breaking down the carbohydrates in the rice to produce the alcohol.

Prior to the eighth century, perhaps the most widely made rice wine was hitoyozake (一夜酒) or so-called overnight sake. This was made by allowing cooked rice or rice gruel to ferment naturally.[3] Some islands in Okinawa still held religious rituals involving chewed sake until the 1930s.[4]

Kuchikamizake is not considered the origin of nihonshu because of the differences of their times introduced to Japan, brewing methods and cultures.[5][6]

In popular culture[edit]

In Giatrus, saruzake (サル酒, monkey sake) is drawn as a kind of kuchikamizake made by a monkey.

Kuchikamizake prominently features in the plot of the 2016 anime film Your Name, where the female protagonist, Mitsuha Miyamizu, produces this type of sake during a ritual.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Aliza Kellerman: Vinepair: Sake Used To Be Made With The Saliva Of Virgins
  2. ^ Jessica Thompson: Vice: Why Sake Used to Be Made with the Spit of Japanese Virgins
  3. ^ Early Types of Sake Kikkoman "Sake in Japanese Food Culture (No. 2)"July 2015
  4. ^ 2011年度南山大学人文学部人類文化学科フィールドワーク(文化人類学)I1・II2調査報告書[permanent dead link] Nanzan University, 2011, p47
  5. ^ 加藤百一 (February 25, 1987). 日本の酒5000年 (in Japanese) (1st ed.). 技報堂出版. pp. 13–19. ISBN 4-7655-4212-2. 
  6. ^ "口噛み酒 中南米・南太平洋・台湾・沖縄・大隅半島で醸された|知る・楽しむ お酒の博物誌|月桂冠 ホームページ" (in Japanese). Gekkeikan. Retrieved January 2, 2018.