Hirezake (ひれ酒)

My foreign friend I went to a local izakaya (Japanese-style bar) last night. We drank hirezake, so I’m going to talk about that.

Hirezake is a type of atsukan, and atsukan is warmed sake. Atsukan smells good and is popular in winter. Hirezake is atsukan that has a fish fin in it.


Don’t worry. The fin is not raw. Even us Japanese people are not strange enough to put raw fish in sake.

The fin is slightly grilled, and the unique and savory smell permeates the sake. You know, a fish only has two to four fins (their sides, back and chest), so hirezake is considered to be a bit luxurious. Many izakayas serve atsukan, but only some of them serve hirezake.

The hirezake we enjoyed contained the fins of a fugu (puffer fish). That’s why I think it was a bit expensive... It was amazing anyways!

In addition, since it is a local bar, my friend was able to talk to the chef, staff and other customers and practice having conversation with locals. In Japanese, of course. Don’t forget, even Japanese people feel like it's difficult talking to strangers, and many people here feel afraid if someone starts talking to them in a foreign language!