Japanese Language Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for students, teachers, and linguists wanting to discuss the finer points of the Japanese language. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

As well as the several other kinds of Japanese alcoholic drinks I seem to have found two words which both mean the drink known in the west as "saké".

Now I know 酒{さけ} can be used for many kinds of alcohol in Japan. I thought the Japanese word for what us westerners call "sake" was 日本酒{にほんしゅ}.

But just now another traveller came home to the hostel with some Japanese alcohol. One had the label 清酒{せいしゅ}, so I looked it up, expecting it to be for a different Japanese alcohol I didn't know about before.

But the definitions on the English Wiktionary and WWWJDIC seem to be the same for both words. Is there a difference? Is one a special kind of saké? Or is one word more generic or more old fashioned etc?

share|improve this question
up vote 10 down vote accepted

There is a clear difference (no pun intended) between 日本酒 and 清酒. The clue is in the kanji 「清」 = "clear".

清酒 is one of the two main types of 日本酒 --- 清酒 and にごり[酒]{ざけ}. The former is refined and colorless and the latter is unrefined and cloudy.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.