Browsing Sake bottles, you might have noticed that there are certain Kanjis (Chinese characters) that are frequently used for Sake names. The followings are the top 10 Kanjis used for Sake names.

1. 山 (Yama / San)




Number of Sake brands: 247

Meaning: Mountain

Famous Sake Brand: Hakkaisan (八海山)

Comment: Mountains have been objects of worship for Japanese people for centuries. So Sake, which is indispensable to Shinto purification rituals (just as wine is consumed in the Christian Eucharist), may as well be named after the mountains that local people worship.


2. 鶴 (Tsuru)



Number of Sake brands: 191

Meaning: Crane

Famous Sake Brand: Sawa-no-Tsuru (沢の鶴), Tsuru-kame (鶴亀)

Comment: As an icon of Japan (also a Natural monument), Cranes are a symbol of happiness, good fortune and longevity, due to its fabled long lifespan of 1000 years. Consumed on glorious and celebratory occasions, Sake is often named after Tsuru in hope that some of the crane’s fortunate image would rub on the Sake.


3. 正 (Sei / Masa / Sho)


Number of Sake brands: 177

Meaning: Righteousness

Famous Sake Brand: 正雪 (Sho-setsu)

Comment: This Kanji often comes in pair with 宗 (Mune) to be 正宗 (Masamune). This can literally be pronounced as Seishu – which is associated with Seishu (清酒) which means Sake. The famous Sakura-Masamune (櫻正宗) has arguably triggered this naming trend.


4. 宗 (Mune)


Number of Sake brands: 164

Meaning: n.a.

Famous Sake Brand: Kiku-Masamune (菊正宗)

Comment: Often comes in pair with 正, to be 正宗 (masamune)


5. 菊 (Kiku)


Number of Sake brands: 157

Meaning: Chrysanthemum

Famous Sake Brand: Kikuhime (菊姫)

Comment: Used as the royal crest, Chrysanthemum is regarded as sacred by the Japanese. It’s also an icon of Japan.


6. 大 (Dai / Oh / Tai)


Number of Sake brands: 156

Meaning: Big

Famous Sake Brand: Oozeki (大関)


7. 乃 (No)


Number of Sake brands: 146

Meaning: The old Kanji for the particle ‘No,’ meaning ‘of.’

Famous Sake Brand: 越乃寒梅 (Koshi-no-Kanbai)


8. 金 (Kin / Kane)


Number of Sake brands: 131

Meaning: Gold

Famous Sake Brand: Kintsuru (金鶴)


8. 白 (Shiro / Haku)



Number of Sake brands: 131

Meaning: White

Famous Sake Brand: Hakutsuru (白鶴)


10. 泉 (Sen / Izumi)


Number of Sake brands: 125

Meaning: Spring / fountain

Famous Sake Brand: Gamosen (賀茂泉)


Kanjis used for Sake names tend to be those associated with nature, purity, holy, fortunate, etc.