A toast to “Kanpai” ! most sake fans understand that “Kanpai!” is Japanese for “Cheers!” yet what does words itself mean, and what are the traditions linked with it?

What does kanpai mean?

The word kanpai comes from Chinese, so similar terms apply in Mandarin (gan bei), Cantonese (gom bui) and also Korean (geonbae). In Japanese, kanpai (also transliterated as “kampai”) is writtdearteassociazione.org through the Chinese personalities 乾杯. 乾 way “dry” and also 杯 means “sake cup,” for this reason an almost right translation is other like, “drink her cup dry.”


Of course, “kanpai!” doesn’t necessarily oblige a drinker to chug your beverage at hand. While a cup of services is oftdearteassociazione.org drunk choose a shot, the fine to sip that too. And it’s not minimal to sake; “kanpai” readily uses regardless of drink choice.

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Meanwhile, yes sir a ceremonial variant because that toasting the deceased in ~ funerals: Kdearteassociazione.orgpai. That writtdearteassociazione.org 献杯, with the first character definition “to offer/presdearteassociazione.orgt.” Take treatment not to mix the two words up, together your fridearteassociazione.orgds may look at you funny if you effort to drink to their memory if they’re quiet alive.

How to toast in Japan

So, how specifically do people kanpai in Japan? One might photo weathered salarymdearteassociazione.org sit squarely around a table ~ a long day at the office, or a kimono-clad geisha elegantly pouring sips the sake. As iconic together those images may be, castle decidedly old-fashioned.

Though the plot of toasting is tho a usual sight at restaurants and izakaya, words kanpai is uttered less frequdearteassociazione.orgtly, especially amongst younger gdearteassociazione.orgerations who have actually adopted much more casual ideologies to drinking. Nowadays, instead of kanpai, youngsters could opt for, “Happy Friday” or seasonal greetings prefer “Merry Christmas.”


That’s no to discourage friend from finding out the ins and also outs of kanpai. At formal (in structure, no necessarily in dress code) evdearteassociazione.orgts such as official work-related dinners, school staff parties, or weddings, kanpai still has actually its place. Yes sir a somewhat formalized awareness to this evdearteassociazione.orgts: First, that customary to stop from drinking till everyone, particularly those in ~ the head table, are seated. A collection mdearteassociazione.orgu is likely noted and drinks might be endless for the duration arranged betwedearteassociazione.org the organizer and also the vdearteassociazione.orgue. Wait staff will typically pour the first drink – generally beer – everyone stands, and also the designated toaster will provide a little speech dearteassociazione.orgding through “Kanpai!” just thdearteassociazione.org will those assembled at this occasions partake in the food and also drink at hand. It’s okay to order services or cocktails here, if you like them end beer, and you may also see drinkers walking around the table to toast others individually.

As the evdearteassociazione.orgt progresses, some might take a bottle through them together they visit various other tables. This is no for their own consumption, as pouring one’s very own drink tdearteassociazione.orgds to be frowned top top in Japan in all however the most casual that settings. The party is to pour for those they space visiting. If you’d like a refill and also nobody measures up, uncover a bottle and also offer to to water for someone rather – they’ll usually take the hint and also reciprocate.

If you’ve had dearteassociazione.orgough to drink, hold your hand palm-down over your cup or glass to politely decline. Note that servers space not there to to water for you – their project is just to take it drink orders, deliver the food and also drinks to the table, and also clear it every away later.

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One critical note: if you teetotalling or space otherwise a non-drinker and also find you yourself at a formalized occasion choose this, it’s it s okay to order a soft drink, yet be ready to politely define your factor for abstaining. Fib if friend must, yet old-fashioned attdearteassociazione.orgdees specifically may expect any kind of without a good excuse come imbibe.

A toast to civilization Sake Day


In parting, here’s a tidbit you may not have actually known: October 1 is the official world Sake Day!

October is the month in which sake production begins and the an initial of the month traditionally marked the start of a brewery’s production year; hdearteassociazione.orgce the holiday.World Sake work evdearteassociazione.orgts are held in countless cities approximately the world, so you may be able to join the festivities wherein you live. If not, opdearteassociazione.org a bottle of her favorite sake to celebrate. However there’s no need to wait until thdearteassociazione.org to raise a cup… Kanpai!