Thursday, 6 August 2009
Getting to the Bottom of the Barrel
Correct me if I'm wrong but I believe convenience stores - as the name suggests - are there for the sake of convenience and also for times of emergencies, especially. Like, say, when you run out of midnight snack, or when your girlfriend runs out of tampons. When you frantically run around in the neighbourhood searching for the nearest convenience store to buy cup noodles or a pack of tampons, all you need to do is to look out for the beacon of hope that shines in front of every kombini. So if I were to open a kombini, I'd put up a big signboard which says, "Food/Tampons".
Instead, Japanese kombini's opt to display, "Sake/Tobacco (酒・たばこ)" on their signboards. It's not unimaginable that a foreign traveller might jump to the (not completely wrong) conclusion that Japanese chew tobacco and imbibe sake to sustain life.
Alcoholic problems are not addressed as an issue here in Japan. Salary men dropping by at the food stalls to grab a drink, drunkards lying unconscious on the train platform, university students being sent to the hospital for alcohol poisoning... The truth is, most Japanese don't admit being alcoholic. In fact, alcohol consumption in Japan has quadrupled since 1960.
It appears that alcohol is deeply rooted in Japanese culture. This photo taken at Meiji Jingu, explains it all.
These are sake barrels (酒樽). Though empty physically speaking, they're not so, in the spiritual sense. These're called decoration barrels (飾樽).
You see, in ancient Japan, rice wine was known as miki (神酒), which means, "god wine". According to Shinto, sake has the power to unify man with the gods. During religious ceremonies, worshipers are given wine. Most shrines get donations from sake brewers but two shrines regulate the donations, namely, Meiji Jingu in Tokyo and Ise Jingu in Mie prefecture.
Surprisingly, sake is normally not kept in wooden barrels for too long as the taste and smell of wood in the sake will then get too strong. Instead, they're kept in steel tanks.
Five feet seven inches tall. A member of a carbon-based bipedal life form descended from an ape.
He believes the cosmos has grand plans for him but whatever his calling is, it has not yet been revealed to him. So in the meantime, he spends the day working as a software developer, and whatever free time that is left, reading books. He attempted reading the bible a couple of times but could not as much as finish the first chapter of Genesis. He will continue again, one day.
He loves his camera as much as he loves his books. He picked up photography when he was studying in Japan. But now that he has started working, he can no longer spend as much time for photography as he used to. He is making a small amount of side income from his hobby and hopes to spend more time shooting again.
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