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Prepare your o-toso, spiced herbal sake, for New Year celebrations

Did you buy some New Year sake already? I purchased it yesterday at my local supermarket. And you know what? This year I finally found out its name, o-toso. In the previous years I just enjoyed it with our Japanese family, and nobody ever tried to explain this custom to me. So it high time to learn more about this wonderful Japanese New Year tradition!

Drinking o-toso, spicy herbal sake, is a New Year tradition in Japan. Consuming this special kind of sake will probably protect you from illnesses, bad luck, and will prolong your life. Warm New Year’s sake is served on a tray, in a pot and with 3 sakazuki lacquered vermillion cups. As you can see, all of them are lacquered.O-tosoThis New Year elixir is also offered to the deities that visit our home in o-shogatsu. Some Japanese people (for example, my husband’s parents) make it at home. They use bags of spices that resemble the tea bags and sake or mirin.O-tosoThe taste of o-toso with mirin is a bit too sweet for me, but it is a nice drink after all. That is, if you drink just a bit. Sake is small quantities is considered good for the body in general, and the one with spices and herbs must be even more beneficial. The children are allowed to have a sip of o-toso too.O-tosoA small amount of sake is drunk on o-misoka (New Year’s) Eve. You can even find many varieties of sparkling sake and kill two birds with one stone. As for me, I went the traditional way and bought a small bottle of champagne and a small bottle of o-toso.

Article by  Olga Kaneda

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