The Cask Breaking Ceremony
Believed to be of divine origins, sake emerged as the drink of Japanese nobility over 1,000 years ago and grew to enjoy widespread popularity on festive occasions. To celebrate important events such as the New Year, weddings, anniversaries, or the opening of a new business, a special ritual, the KAGAMIWARI (cask-breaking ceremony) was performed. KAGAMI refers to the circular mirror that was unveiled by a Shinto priest during the ceremony as a symbol of the divine spirit. It also refers to the circular lid of the sake cask that is broken open by the guest of honor using a large wooden mallet. The sake is then ladled out to all in attendance. This ceremonial opening of the sake cask is believed to bring blessings of health, happiness, and prosperity to all, as the sake is raised in a resounding toast of "KAMPAI!"