Deepen your knowledge of Japanese sake culture with this guide to sake cups and other drinking vessels!
Ochoko (お猪口)If you’ve ever had sake at a Japanese restaurant, it was likely served in an ochoko. The small, circular cup reminiscent of a shot-glass is a staple of sake culture. With an average volume of just 45 millimetres, they are generally small. However, larger guinomi (ぐい吞み) sizes are also available for the bigger drinkers. Along with your standard porcelain ochoko, glass, metal, ceramic, lacquerware, and even wood versions are available! Prices range from a single coin to tens of thousands of yen.
Masu (枡)Originally used as a measurement tool, a masu is a square, often wooden container about as large as your palm. These decorative vessels are favored for their natural aroma that softens the dryness of sake. They are a common sight at izakayas and bars, whereby an ochoko is placed inside a masu and purposely overfilled with sake. Customers are expected to first drink the sake in the ochoko, then enjoy the leftovers from the masu. Bartenders do this to give patrons extra sake, especially as a service to loyal regulars. Needless to say, their appearance is much-welcomed!
Tokkuri (徳利)A tokkuri is a large decanter-like vessel used as a pitcher to serve sake. They are generally tall and thin and act as an intermediate between bottle and ochoko. Their service is particularly necessary as sake often comes in hefty 1.8-liter isshobin bottles that are difficult to pour. Similarly to ochoko, porcelain is most common with ceramic, metal, glass, and wooden versions readily available. Tokkuri are also a must-have for those wanting to dabble with sake temperatures. They can be used to prepare both warm and chilled sake, allowing you to experiment and find a style that suits your taste. Check out the guide further below for more information!
Katakuchi (片口)Katakuchi are another type of sake pitcher. Unlike the elongated tokkuri, a katakuchi is stubby and thick with an open mouth and small spout. Despite their cute design and ease-of-use, they are not as popular as tokkuri.
Hirahai (平杯)Hirahai cups are essentially flat ochokos. Their wide rim accentuates the flavor of sake by spreading it delicately across your mouth. This, plus their tiny capacity, make them a natural choice for sake taste-testing. A variation of hirahai, known as sakazuki (杯), also play an important role in traditional Japanese weddings.
Wine GlassesWine glasses are an increasingly popular new frontier in sake appreciation. Apart from being the epitome of sophistication, they are specifically designed to amplify aroma, making them a fantastic way to fully appreciate the rich bouquet of sake. They are also ideal for cold hiyazake (冷酒) as the stem prevents unintentional warming from your hand. For those hesitant to try sake, perhaps drinking from a familiarly-shaped wine glass will open the gate to finally appreciating this wonderful drink!
What to use and when!Now that you know the basics of shuki, it’s time to know when to use them!
*This article was provided by one of our partners, and its publication date refers to the day it was released on WOW! JAPAN. Please refer to the applicable partner site to confirm the date of original publication.
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