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Home » 4. Jinja (Shrines) » Offerings and Talismans
Miki
Rice wine (sake) offered to the kami, an indispensable element of the food offerings known as shinsen. Usually referred to as omiki, or alternately as shinshu, the term miki is a combination of two characters, the honorific mi and the character for "wine" (ki). As such, it originally derived from a term for wine offered to someone in an exalted position. Ancient documents include instances of miki being called miwa, and the deity Miwa no kami is thus famous as the kami with jurisdiction over the production of sake. Likewise, the term kushi is found in poetry from the Kojiki as another name for miki, while in Okinawa, one finds the term ugusu. This word is thought to derive from the ancient view of the "auspicious" (kizui) effect of sake, while another theory links the word to kusuri or "medicine." All these examples demonstrate that miki has been considered indispensable to kami worship from the age of myth until the present. It is believed that by drinking miki together with the kami to whom it is offered the celebrants experience a non-everyday state of mind and body, and thus deepen their communion with the kami. Miki is found in numerous varieties, including white rice wine and black rice wine (shiroki and kuroki), unrefined rice wine (nigorizake), refined rice wine (sumisake or seishu), and sweet rice wine (hitoyozake). Several methods of brewing likewise exist, although examples include a strong "wine of eight-fold brewing" (yashioori no sake), and another "overnight" type of wine called reishu, fermented by chewing rice. The ritual offerings of certain localities feature kinds of miki so thick they can be lifted with chopsticks. See also shiroki, kuroki.

-Saitō Michiko
Footage of a sansankudo, in which rice wine is ritually consumed on the occasion of a celebratory ceremony. In many cases, the sansankudo forms part of Japanese style wedding ceremonies. As part of this ritual, bride and groom take turns drinking miki from a set of three cups for a total of nine times.

Tokyo, 2005

©Ōsawa Kōji

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