History of Temple Brewing
Sake. The national drink of Japan made from rice. At one point in its history, Japanese sake was brewed in temples. In medieval Nara, as recorded in the "Tamonin Nikki" (Diary of Tamonin) and the “Kyokaku Shiyosho” (diary of the priest Kyokaku) of Kofuku-ji Temple, large temples built by the state were responsible for temple brewing. Meanwhile, during this same period, overseas, wine, beer, champagne and other fermented beverages brewed in medieval abbeys and monasteries witnessed dramatic improvements in quality.
Why then did temple brewing in Japan, which had also spread so rapidly once upon a time, undergo a decline thereafter? Here we seek to answer this question as we unravel the history of temple brewing in Japan.