Going to the liquor store is exciting for all sake fanatics. Because there are so many brands to choose from, it’s hard to pick one and refrain from gulping it down immediately after making a purchase. For those kinds of people, some liquor stores have a place in the shop where customers can drink. It’s called a “kaku-uchi,” allowing drinking on the premises. We’ll give you more details.
The word “kaku” means corner and “uchi” means tap in Japanese. “Kaku-uchi” derived from drinking sake from the corner of a wooden box called a masu. During the Edo period (1603-1868), sake was not bottled like today, but rather, sold by amount measured in a masu. It is said that customers couldn’t wait to drink the sake until they got home, so the shop owners allowed them to drink from the masu in the shop, starting a trend where customers could drink on the premises. Tokyo alone has over 100 kaku-uchi shops today.
Kaku-uchi Changes Over Time
Kaku-uchi allows people to try different sake for a reasonable price. Because it is so readily available, new evolutions called “neo kaku-uchi” and “kaku-uchi bars” have emerged. People would purchase nibbles, dry snacks, and canned goods directly from the shop, but the “neo kaku-uchi” and “kaku-uchi bars” have taken it a step further by offering snacks like an izakaya or restaurant.
How to Enjoy Kaku-uchi
What makes kaku-uchi different from an izakaya is that the main purpose is to enjoy the sake, not the food. The great thing about it is that you can enjoy sake in small amounts. Tell the employees what kind of sake suits your taste and they’ll give you their recommendations. Some places even offer sample sets which are definitely worth trying. We’re sure that you’ll enjoy kaku-uchi whether it be you looked a place and went or if one simply caught your eye when you were walking past it. Make sure to have the kaku-uchi experience when you’re in Japan.