Kazaridaru Celebrating Sacred Sake

01.02.2020

WordsSolenn Cordroc'h

©Gilbert Sopakuwa

On either side of the path leading to the Meiji Jingu sanctuary in Tokyo, barrels are carefully lined up alongside one another. These empty sake barrels are decorative and named kazaridaru, commemorating the sake houses which provide rice wine for sanctuaries during sacred ceremonies and shinto rituals.

It is in a purely decorative manner that the wooden barrels are stacked and strung together completely empty. Usually, sake is not kept in barrels to prevent it from absorbing the taste and smell of the wood. It is only during rituals that sake is poured into a more ceremonial container. Over time the barrels found close to temples started to be coloured and decorated. The name kazaridaru is simple: kazari for decoration and taru for wooden barrel. The objects are now habitually gifted by sake producers to the sanctuaries. Other than their purely decorative function, these barrels have a spiritual role, representing the relationship between the brewers and the sanctuaries.

Incidentally, the word miki, once used to mean love in ancient Japanese texts, is written with the characters for God and Wine. It is today used to describe rice wine. Sipping on a glass of sake has always been considered a symbolic act, uniting God and people, hence the use of sake in shinto rituals.

©Terry Feuerborn

©Federico Moroni

©Federico-Moroni

©Federico Moroni

©Roger Walch