Otoso is an auspicious sake that is drunk on New Year’s Day to ward off evil spirits and wish for long life.
It is a custom that is said to have continued since the Heian period.
On the morning of New Year’s Day, after the family has gathered and greeted each other for the New Year, the “Otoso” is served.
Otoso is a medicinal sake soaked in Chinese herbal medicine, and is used to wish for the health of the family.
The name “Otoso” means “to slaughter the evil spirits and revive the soul.
It is said that this medicinal sake was invented during the Later Han Dynasty in China, and was introduced to Japan during the reign of Emperor Saga in the early Heian Period.
It is made by soaking Toso-san, a combination of several kinds of medicinal herbs, in sake, mirin, etc.
The most common herbs used are Prickly Ash, fine spice, windbreak, cinnamon, ginger, baijiu and bellflower.
It is drunk from three kinds of sake cups: small, medium and large.
It is said, “If one person drinks this, there will be no illness in the family, and if one family drinks this, there will be no illness in the village.
Officially, it is served with a toso bowl and three cups (large, medium, and small).
The order in which the sake is drunk is from the youngest to the oldest.
First, the oldest person pours slaughterhouse sake into the youngest person, who drinks it up, then the youngest person pours it into the second youngest person, and so on.
It is believed that a cup sipped by a person who is not in a bad year has the power to purge evil spirits, so the person in a bad year should drink last.
It is a family celebration of the New Year and a wish for good health and longevity for the year.
It is thought to have been the most important way of communicating with family and the surrounding community.