Know This And Fear Not the Hangover! Ways to Enjoy Delicious Sake While Avoiding a Nasty Hangover

Greetings sake lovers!

The hangover — not just a binge drinker’s bad nightmare. You wake up one morning with a vague recollection of merriment the night before. You got carried away, you inevitably overdrunk and now you are regretting it. This is probably not the first nor the second time you have been here.

No matter how traumatic the experience it never puts you off going there again — alas, this is human nature.

So, does sake give you a hangover and how bad is it? The short answer, yes. Make no mistake, sake does have the potential —  although not as much as other types of alcohol — to cause a hangover. That is if you overdo it. And so we have decided to put together a little compendium of tips on how to enjoy delicious sake while avoiding the sake hangover from hell.

Why Do Hangovers Happen in the First Place?


Various symptoms assault you: from searing headaches to nausiea and everything in between. Each symptom has its own cause and although every hangover is a different case in question, the main causes are dehydration and Acetal Dehyde.

Incidentally, a certain amount of alcohol is metabolised by an enzyme called Aldehyde Dehydrogenase. Some people have more or less of this enzyme. Some people are even deficient. Gender, race and age are all factors that influence the levels of this enzyme in the body. For example, old people are known to be less able to tolerate their alcohol than middle aged people, whereas young people will probably reach their limit a long time before an old person would. As far as race is concerned, Asian ethnic groups, in particular Japanese people, are well known for their low alcohol tolerance.

What Happens When you Become Dehydrated?

In many ways a hangover is just another form of dehydration. Dehydration also causes headaches, lethargy, nauseia and loss of apetite. Alcohol is a diuretic which means that when you drink it you lose more water than you take in. For every 50g of alcohol you consume, you lose 600ml-1000ml of water. Based on this calculation, if you were to drink 2 500ml bottles of beer, you would lose 1L of water in the process. If the alcohol content is higher than beer, you lose as much water as you drink alcohol, resulting in a dehydration, and ultimately a hangover.

What is Acetal Dehyde?

Another common cause of hangovers is Acetal Dehyde. It is created as a bi-product of alcohol metabolisation by the liver. As explained earlier in this article, some people suffer from a deficiency, or possess less of the alcohol metabolising enzyme, Alcohol Dehydronase. This means that Acetal Dehyde remains in the body long after the alcohol has been processed, thus causing a hangover. Acetal Dehyde is a form of poison that causes all the aforementioned symptoms. I may knowingly use the word poison here — after all that is a fact. Let that fact turn us not into newly born tea-totals but more responsibile drinkers.

How to Drink Sake and Avoid Those Nasty Hangovers

So now we have an understanding of how alcohol affects the body, let’s look at some concrete ways that we can help prevent those terrible hangovers from happening in the first place — Prevention is after all better than cure, as they say.

Stick to Junmai Type Sakes as Much as Possible


My advice for the unseasoned drinker is to stick to the Junmai types. Allow me to elaborate, sake can be divided into 2 main categories: a type where all the alcohol is produced naturally via the fermentation, and a type where a little alcohol is added to enhance aromas and flavours (not to increase alcohol levels) a bit like fortified wines, i.e port etc. The former is called the “Junmai” type, the latter, “alcohol-added”.

The alcohol-added type tends to be lighter and dangerously easier to drink: of course, this is precisely the reason why we suggest the less seasoned drinker to stick to the less easy-to-drink Junmai type.

Drink Sake Warm

20151207-22 (コピー)

This tip is linked to the way temperature affects the way that alcohol is absorbed by the body. Generally speaking, the body is better at absorbing alcohol when it is closer to body temperature. Therefore, warm sake is absorbed pretty much as soon as you have consumed it.

The opposite can be said for chilled sake which comes with a time delay before the body starts to absorb the alcocol, and a high possibility that you will overdrink before the alcohol has started to go to your head.
Although you can of course avoid this problem to some extent if you pace yourself, we recommend warm sake for the unseasoned drinker.

Knowing Your Limit


This tip really has more to do with how you prepare beforehand than the method of drinking itself. Everyone has a limit to how much they can safely drink. The best prevention for a hangover / overdrinking is knowing that limit. Luckily there is a magic formula to help you calculate your own limit. The below formula was devised by Mr.Nobuhiro Sato of the NRIB (National Research Institute of Brewing).


Carry On and Drink More Water


All the above tips work. But there is only one sure fire way to prevent a hangover — Water.
Drinking water in between takes is not only healthy but it will keep you hydrated. The sake industry’s official recommendation is to consume 1.5 times more water than sake. They call it Yawaragi Mizu (LIT: alleviation water) or chaser. In other words, after a 55ml glass of sake you should be aiming to consume 150ml of water.

Develop rules that work for you and stick to them.

Know your limit, plan your drinking and pace yourself.

This article is in no ways full proof. Please use it is a guide.

Follow the tips in this article and you will decrease the chances of waking up the next morning to find that, shock! horror! you accidentally went home with sake last night.

Enjoy good times with sake at KURAND SAKE MARKET.

Event Report – Sake SET VOL 7 LITE : It’s All in the Nose

Written by Chris Hughes

Date: 03/04/16
Venue: Kurand Sake Market Asakusa Branch
Participants: 15
Duration: 4 hours
Theme: Aromas of Sake

Photography by Hagiwara Yoshiteru

On Sunday 3rd April, people from all nationalities came together for another bout of sake imbibing and international exchange at our Asakusa branch.

For those who just want to meet new people while sipping sake, this is the event for you. If hardcore study is your bag, head on over to the PRO version.

The Theme


You may have heard wine drinkers use the term “it is all in the nose”. The nose is the collective term given to all the aromas that eminate from the glass. In wine tasting, this nose is a major determinte of the perceived flavour in the mouth. Sake is no exception. But why is an understanding of the aromas of sake so important? Where do the aromas of sake come from? In the LITE version we offered a glimpse at the answer to this question in the form of a short compact lecture and free tasting.

Picking your Glass


Once through reception, each participant was invited to choose a drinking vessel from a selection of 3-4 different types: plastic masu (square box), ochoko, ginjo glass (2 types) and one type of ceramic guinomi.

The flavour of sake changes dramatically depending on the type of vessel that you drink it out of. This is not a feature unique to sake. Have you ever wondered why the sides / rim of some wine glasses bend inwards slightly? Well the glasses are designed this way to better allow you to appreciate the aromas. Vessels that are narrower and shaped in this way trap the aromas as opposed to allowing them to escape.

For aromatic styles like ginjo etc, a trumpet shaped glass where the sides curve outwards, like the one in the photo below is perfect; this way you can enjoy the aroma before it disappears. A glass with a deep bottom is even better.


The Lecture


● Sake in a nutshell
● The ingredients: rice, koji, water and yeast ( the roles they play)
● The ingredients: their role in creating aroma.
● Sake Yeast: types of sake yeast – Kyokai (society) Yeasts and their characteristics
● Types of aromas in sake
● A breakdown of where each type of aroma comes from
● A plotting of the aroma types on a tasting map

International Exchange with a Sake in Hand


Participants were then free to work their way through the sakes in the fridge, comparing as many as they like, while making new international friends in the process.

For those who wanted to discover more about the different aromas of sake, I had prepared a special flight of sakes with different aromas to study.


Eyes Down! It’s Bingo Time !


What internatonal exchange event would be complete without a round or two of bingo?
But not just any Bingo! Oh noooo, sake bingo — with an added twist or two: sake bingo!

How to play SET BINGO


This version of bingo comes with an extra special rule.

Normally bingo is played with 24 numbers.

Well, this version of bingo is no different. However, participants are given the opportunity to collect an additional two numbers with which to play with. They do so, by going around the room asking other people for their sake recommendations. You may be thinking: how on earth does getting a sake recommendation from someone give you extra numbers to play bingo. Well in actual fact each of the sakes in our fridge is allocated a number. The number is display on a tag around the bottle neck.


Each participant notes down the number of the sake in the fridge they have been recommended followed by the name of the person who recommended it to them. A maxium of two recommendations can be collected. The two numbers collected become jokers or spares which can be used in the bingo game to increase a person’s chances of winning.

Look at the examples below. In the example A, the person is waiting for two numbers, ‘4’ and ’11’ to complete the first vertical line. Those numbers don’t get called. However, the two spares, ‘2’ and ’44’ do. The person can now claim a line using the spares as substitutes for the numbers they are waiting for.

In example 2, the person needs just one number to complete a line. That doesn’t get called. However, one of their spares does. They can use the spare that got called to claim a line.

In each of these two examples bingo has been achieved.

It might take a while sometimes to realise that you have won, but that’s part of the fun.

The best part about this extra rule is yet to come….

In the event that a spare helps you to win, the person who recommended you that number sake wins a prize also.


How to Ask For a Recommendation in Japanese

Part of the reason for adding this extra rule is to offer more opportunities for participants to interact and break the ice. It also makes a great excuse to practice your Japanese. We provided a little script that explains how to ask for a recommendation in Japanese to help you along the way.

Osusume wo onegai shimasu
(oh-sue-sue-may owe o-nay-guy she-mass)

How to Give a recommendation in Japanese

___?____ wo susume shimasu.
(___?___oh-sue-sue-may she-mass)

For the lucky winners there were prizes.





Pretending to be a Brewer!

Ever wanted to pretend to work in a brewery? I promise you it is much harder work in reality. Still getting a feel for the tools of the trade makes you appreciate the end product even more. The tools you see in the photograph have all been very kindly donated by our participating breweries.

Our participants certainly look the part! A great photo opportunity wouldn’t you agree?



If this event report has tickled your taste buds, a rerun of our first ever SET and the PRO version of SET 7 is just a couple of weeks away. And beyond that there will be a new theme in May.

Click here for more information

I look forward to seeing you all there!!


Used Bottle Caps Transformed Into Fashion Items (in just 3 mins!!)

The caps used to seal 1.8L sake bottles are called “crown caps” or Oukan. But what should you do with them after you have finished-up a bottle?

Perhaps you collect them. Personally speaking, when I (the writer) was a child I used to use turn them into counters to play with. Of course, in most cases, disposing of them along with the empty bottles would is the obvious choice but just hold on a second!

In actual fact, with just a little DIY, used bottle caps that would otherwise be destined for the rubbish bin can be transformed into a whole array of different fashion items. In this artcle we will show you how to transform them into cool little fridge magnets.

The Origin of the Crown Cap

Before we get down to business, you may be wondering why they call them “crown caps”, so allow me share with you a little trivia on the subject.

In Japan, crown caps date back to the 1900s when they were first used to seal beer bottles in Tokyo.

The crown cap gets its name from the fact that if you put it on upside down, its serrated edge makes it look like the beer bottle is wearing a crown. Nowadays all bottle caps are called crown caps regardless of their shape or design.

What you Need

You need just 3 items. All except the bottle cap itself, can be sourced from a 100 yen store (if you are in Japan) or a stationary / DIY store if you are abroad.

Crown Cap
Craft Knife or DIY knife
Magnet(1.8cm – 1.9cm)
It might take a bit of searching and or trial and error to find the right size magnet. If you can’t get your hands on an exact fit, you can always sand whatever you find down to the right shape using sandpaper. Ideally you are looking for a magnet around 1.8-1.9cm in diameter.


Right then! Let’s make our magnet!

1. Cut away the back of the cap using a craft knife.

Insert the knife just below the rim of the cap and cut all the way around.
Take care not to injure yourself when you insert the blade.
A clean cut!


Cut in line with the rim of the cap. The more tidy the cut, the more accomplished looking the finish.

2. Fit the magnet into the hollow part of the back of the cap.


As you can see from the photograph, the underside of the cap is hollow.
Carefully press the magnet into the hollow space. If you are lucky, the maget will fit like a glove with very little force. Otherwise, sand the edges down until it is the right size.

Fits like a glove!


In the case that the magnet is smaller than the hollow part of the cap, double sided tape can be used to pad it out a bit.

Voila! And Here’s One we Made Earlier!

Your work is done. Now take a step back and admire your handy work. ♪

Why not turn your fridge door into a mural of sake brands — and as an added bonus everytime you go to the fridge you will be tempted to open another bottle of sake.