Pure water and high-quality rice couple with the cold climate to make Akita Prefecture an ideal region for brewing sake. Moreover, as mining development expanded during the Edo Period, so too did the breweries to slake the mineworkers’ thirst. Breweries seemed to be indispensable to a region that had few hot spots outside of its mines. According to early Showa-period records, the Akita brand “Taiheizan” won first place at competitions and went on to receive nationwide acclaim.
Now, do you know how to “rehearse” before you drink in Akita? Here, when people gather for a drink, they “practice” their toast with a purposeful false start where they drink before the toast. In other words, a “toast rehearsal.” Even if someone is running late, everyone else starts drinking without them. They say this is a form of consideration where no one fusses too much about the details, though the jury is out on how true that is.
Upon hearing about this custom, you may be thinking “that’s just an excuse to get extra sloshed, isn’t it?” But, actually, according to a study, the people of Akita Prefecture are the strongest drinkers in Japan. As a fun fact, Kagoshima Prefecture apparently came in second place, Iwate Prefecture in third, and Fukuoka Prefecture in fourth. In a way it was inevitable that a custom like the “Rehearsal” would come about when good sake mixes with such strong stomachs.
At Akita Station you will find “Akita Kurasu,” a standing bar said to be the “entrance to Akita Prefecture,” where you can taste famous local brands. Consider yourself lucky if you witness the Akita-exclusive “Rehearsal” through your own sake-goggles!