In Japan, the oldest record of sake production using koji can be found in Harima-no-Kuni Fudoki, a history of the area corresponding to today's Hyogo Prefecture, which dates back roughly 1,400 years. Despite the fact that sake brewed from rice has a history that dates back many thousands of years, there is no doubt that it is a very ancient drink. There is a belief that the understanding of how to make sake from koji was a consequence of rice cultivation, which was introduced to Japan from the Asian mainland toward the end of the Jomon era (circa 2000 BC - 300 BC), when it was believed that this knowledge arrived from the Asian mainland.
Susanoo slaying the Yamata-no-Orochi, by Toyohara Chikanobu
While historical facts are important, sake also appears in myths and legends. This is specifically in the Kojiki and Nihon Shoki, two ancient Japanese folklore and history chronicles from the eighth century. In these myths, sake's place in Japanese culture and history is portrayed in a more glorious and grandiose light.
The most famous sake legend is one of the deities Susanoo-no-Mikoto defeating a giant eight-headed serpent known as the Yamata-no-Orochi. The deity came to save an elderly couple whose seven daughters have been devoured by a monster, leaving only one girl alive.
Susanoo told them that if they gave him their daughter's hand in marriage, he would slay the serpent. They happily agreed.
According to legend, Yamata-no-Orochi had eight heads and eight tails and was long enough to span over eight valleys and eight peaks of a mountain range.
The locals prepared eight vats of strong sake for Susanoo to tempt the enormous snake to drink. As the serpent became drunk, Susanoo managed to kill it without much effort. As a result, the eighth daughter, who became Princess Kushinada, was saved.
A tale such as this illustrates the place sake holds in the culture and folklore of Japan to this very day as a central, integral, and celebrated beverage.