During our last "sake hunting" trip to Japan, we explored the charming city of Suwa in Nagano prefecture. It is a relatively small town bordering one of Japan's beautiful lakes, the Lake Suwa. At just a 2 hours train ride from the busy streets of Tokyo, Suwa is a haven of tranquillity, pristine nature and of course of delicious sake.
Lake Suwa in Nagano
After a day of sake tasting and exploration, we thought it was a good idea to relax at a local hot spring. Nagano prefecture is famous for its high-quality hot springs or “onsen” in Japanese. It was when we'd discovered something we had never encountered or heard of before; Sake bath! Yes, you read it correctly, The hot spring we visited offered hot sake bath. Not only could you bath in a hot bath mixed with sake, but you were also provided with an entire line up of beauty products and other cosmetics made from sake!
If you are like us, the idea of enjoying a fine glass of sake is enough for you to relax and clear your mind from your busy day at work. What you might not know, however, is that your glass of sake comes packed with other benefits!
We decided to learn more about the health and beauty benefits of sake, and so we went on to talk to the owner of the hot spring who specialised in sake bath. Here is what we found out.
Here is an example of a sake bath in Japan!
SAKE AND YOUR SKIN
Sake is full of humectant components such as glycerol, glycerine and amino acids. They help keep your skin well moisturised by preventing evaporation.
Ferulic acids present in sake can also protect your skin from ageing by preventing freckles, age and sun spots but also wrinkles. Ferulic acids have powerful UV light absorbing properties.
It is why sake bath and hot springs are common in Japan. It is a great way to combine the health benefits of a hot bath with the ones naturally present in sake. Another great reason to visit Japan!
Beauty products derived from sake and sake lees are increasing in popularity in Japan as people discover and learn to enjoy the health benefits of sake. We have even seen sake breweries making their own soap from sake lees. Was it the secret of everyone's perfect looking skin at the brewery? Who knows …
Sake and skincare products from a new brand called “shu-re”, based in Ishikawa Prefecture.
SAKE AND YOUR HEALTH
• One of sake's main characteristics is that it is full of amino acids. Indeed, sake contains over seven times more amino acids than wine. These amino acids are responsible for strengthening bones and recovering damaged skeletal muscles, preventing the development of osteoporosis.
• Sake could also boost your immune system due to its high concentration of selenium, a mineral that offers a wide range of health benefits. Selenium acts as a potent antioxidant and has been proven to boost your immune system.
• Sake is kind on your stomach as it is on average five times less acidic than red and white wines. Say goodbye to "sour stomachs" and bad reflux after your meal.
• Premium junmai sakes are 100% gluten-free. As we know, the only ingredients of premium junmai sakes (i.e. junmai, junmai ginjo and junmai daiginjo) are rice, water, koji and yeasts, which contain no gluten.
• Premium sake also gives you close to no hangovers. During our trip to Japan, we had the pleasure to taste and drink a wide range of sake every day (Tough work we know, we did it for you!) but none of us ever felt even just slightly hungover. Premium sakes are made with rice, water, koji, yeast. No sulfites or preservatives are added and the components that would cause a headaches have been polished away. There is a saying in Japan that says: "you know a good sake the next day." Well, I am happy to say that we then only had great sakes!