Forgotten Edo Period Japanese Sake CupsKatachiware Japanese Style Tableware
Japanese Sake Cups While most of us are familiar with drinking sake from small glass or porcelain cups, few are aware that sake can be enjoyed in a variety of vessels ranging from traditional to modern. Typically, sake is consumed from a variety of glasses vessels made of a variety of materials including earthenware, porcelain, wood, and glass.
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On the other hand, warmed sake is frequently served in pottery or porcelain pitchers. Japanese pottery has been made for millennia and is highly collectable. Nowadays, the most frequently encountered pieces are small flasks known as tokkuri and even smaller cups known as ochok, into which sake is decanted and drank.
There are several variations on the traditional Japanese sake cup that, while enjoyable to use and highly collectable, are not utilised on a daily basis. Each will result in a different drinking experience. Below are the tratitional types sake cups and glasses that you would have found in izakayas and sake bars during the Edo period.
Ochoko Japanese Sake Cups
Ochoko are small cylindrical ceramic cups used for drinking hot sake. When poured directly from a tokkuri, they carry a mouthful of sake, necessitating frequent refilling.
Sake manufacturers utilise a particular ochoko called janome choko that features a concentric blue and white pattern that makes it easier to inspect the sake’s colour and clarity, and the cup’s neck is typically wider than the body to allow the sake fragrances to waft upward.
Except for the specialised janome ochoko used in professional sake evaluations, the ochoko’s traditional etiquette is to pour for others and accept reciprocal sake offers. In many instances today, pouring for oneself has grown increasingly acceptable in order to reduce the formality of gatherings and let people to drink sake at their own leisure.
You can take pleasure in the variety of ochoko sake cup styles, colours, and shapes while delighting in Japanese heritage. Typically, this sake cup widens at the neck to allow the sake fragrance to flow upward.
Guinomi Sake Cups
Guinomi is a sake cup that is slightly larger and deeper ceramic cup than ochoko. Apart from size and fluted edge, guinomi follows the same characteristics as ochoko. Meant for more informal, masculine drinking, where sake is gulped rather than sipped and is suited for drinking robust sakes like Junmai, Kimoto, and Yamahai: their flavours are heightened by the cups absorbing and softening effect.
The cup was first popularised in the middle part of the Edo Period (1603-1868) the guinomi typically held more sake than the sakazuki and were thus appreciated as a less formal way to enjoy sake. Guinomi was originally a type of dinnerware used to serve delicacies at Japanese tea rituals. Following the consumption of the delights, people began adding sake to it and drinking it, which is thought to be the origin of the guinomi. As a result, Guinomi grew up immersed in the tea culture.
Guinomi is most often made from pottery with rough texture is the best for hot Sake. Ceramic producers throughout Japan produce a wide range of beautiful guinomi from the elegant and colourful Kyoyaki makers of Kyoto to the rustic and natural-coloured Tamba makers in Hyogo.
Masu Sake Cups
The masu sake cup dates back centuries and was used as a measuring tool. During the Edo Period (1603-1868), merchants utilised the small square box-shaped masu to measure essential goods such as rice and grains, as well as soy sauce, vinegar, and sake.
Masu later gained popularity for serving sake at sake barrel ceremonies (“kagami biraki”), cherry blossom viewing (“hanami”), and other and traditional Japanese pubs (“izakaya”). Due to the pronunciation of “masu” being the same as the word for “increase” and appealing to the customer’s sense of nostalgia or “Japanese-ness.”
Possibly the best masu for savouring the marriage of sake flavour and wood scent are those fashioned from Japanese cypress “hinoki” (Chamaecyparis obtusa). Hinoki masu, which is pleasant in colour, texture, and aroma, can provide an incomparably fresh and unique quality to sake. Masu comes in a variety of sizes, the two most common for savouring sake are the 144ml “hasshaku” masu and the 180ml “ichigo” masu.
Bajohai Sake Cup
Bajohai, which means “on horseback,” is the traditional term for this elevated sake cup, which is derived from the Japanese language. This form of sake cup is claimed to have originated with Mongolian nomadic people, who used it to sip wine while riding their horses across the mountains, according to legend.
The Bajohai Sake Cup, according to historical documents, was also used by samurai warlords in mediaeval Japan to sip sake while riding their horses. It is recommended that you serve sake in a cup because the base has been widened to make it more readily grasped and because the body has been precisely crafted in order to prevent the sake from flowing out easily.
These kinds of sake cups are today highly rare and precious collectable masterpieces of the greatest calibre and are therefore extremely desirable.
Sakazuki Sake Cup
The earliest sake cup style is known as sakazuki, and it features a shallow, wide-mouthed cup that is traditionally held in two hands, one on the bottom and the other on the side.
There are a variety of sakazuki sizes, from tiny to large, although they normally hold only a few sips. When drinking sakazuki, it’s customary to offer to pour for the other person and to accept the offer in turn. This type of etiquette is a way to show hospitality while also empathising with the wants and pleasures of the people around you.
In Shinto-related events, Sakazuki remains a popular choice, and the cup is often embellished with porcelain, lacquerware, and glass. uring the Edo era, urushi lacquer and Makie-decorated examples were reserved for the Samurai and Daimyo classes. The inside is adorned with a gold Maki-e motif and is covered with a vermillion lacquer. There are elevated scattered metal tortoises and bamboo, and flat sprinkled metal of the Tachibana family’s crest, ‘Gion-mamori.’ Symbols of a magical realm were depicted.
Kiriko Sake Glass
Kiriko sake cups were introduced in two styles: Edo kiriko and Satsuma kiriko. Edo is the old name for Tokyo, and it is from this that Edo kiriko got its name, despite the fact that Edo Kiriko is considerably simpler to locate than Satsuma. It was created by the Satsuma clan between the late Edo and early Meiji periods (1868–1912) and often made of thinner clear glass with an overlay of transparent colourful glass. While crystal is frequently used, this is not necessarily the case with less expensive ones. Colors are frequently more subdued in Edo kiriko.
Satsuma Kiriko is named after Kagoshima’s Satsuma Domain (late Edo period). This type appeared shortly after the Edo kiriko. The Satsuma clan imported artisans from Edo to instruct the indigenous people how to create the intricate decorations. However, Satsuma kiriko manufacture did not survive long, and only a small number of the originals remain. Fortunately for us, the design was reintroduced in 1985.
Satsuma kiriko is frequently more vibrant and substantial than Edo kiriko. It is highly regarded for its beautiful gradation.
Drinking Sake From Wine Glasses
It is totally OK and fairly popular to enjoy drinking sake from a wine glass or crystal ware, despite the fact that drinking sake from a conventional sake cup may appear to be preferable.
While traditional sake glasses such as the sakazuki, guinomi, ochoko, and masu can create an authentic atmosphere, a deeper glass with a wider mouth is recommended for enjoying the fragrance of the sake itself. This allows you to get a better sense of the aroma, colours, and viscosity of sake that you might not be able to recognise in a traditional sake glass.
A white wine glass is ideal for sipping premium ginjo and daiginjo sake, which have a stronger aroma and are more aromatic. Genshu, which is great served over ice, may also be consumed in an old-fashioned glass if desired. Sake contests, such as those sponsored by the Fine Sake Awards Japan, are held in Japan to determine which sakes perform the best in wine glasses.