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A unique and characteristic product of Japan, sake is a type of fermented rice-based liquor known as nihonshu . This alcoholic drink has been produced in the land of the Rising Sun for thousands of years and is deeply rooted in its culture.
Over time, the habits and customs relating to its preparation and use have evolved and the different consumption experiences have led to the creation and development of an increasingly heterogeneous variety of cups and glasses with which it can be enjoyed. Sake glasses differ from each other in shape, size, color and material depending on the occasion.


Here are 10 types of traditional and modern cups commonly used in Japan.

  1. Masu:
    In ancient times sake was served in a wooden container , known as a masu , a box-shaped vessel usually made of hinoki , Japanese cypress. During the Edo period the masu was used to measure rice, but given its capacity and sturdiness it was soon used as a cup: in fact, it was said that this wooden box was able to complete the sake since the latter was traditionally prepared in a wooden barrel. Today, precisely because the wood with its aftertaste alters the flavor of the sake too much, masu are made in lacquered material or ABS plastic .
  1. Ochoko:
    If you have a weakness for hot sake, the best solution is to opt for an ochoko : the typical ceramic cup, generally of a small cylindrical shape, allows the heat not to disperse and to enjoy the sake always piping hot once poured. It can also be used for cold sake and is also commonly made of porcelain, metal and glass.


  1. Sakazuki:
    Sakazuki are ceremonial cups commonly used during weddings and other special occasions , such as New Year's Eve and Shinto rituals. More precisely, these are cups similar to small plates or bowls, with a raised base, frequently in a solid color or with floral themed decorations. Created with ceramic and lacquered wood materials, in addition to the classic creations in glass, tin, silver and gold, they are occasionally awarded as prizes in place of medals or trophies.
  1. Guinomi:
    The use of the guinomi became part of Japanese tradition from the mid-Edo period, gaining rapid popularity thanks to its size: being larger than any sakazuki it was often used in informal situations . To date, its aesthetics have changed and have been made smaller and more moderate, but its dimensions still remain larger than the average of other glasses. Ceramic, porcelain and terracotta are the main materials of this artisanal creation, sometimes alternating with glass.


  1. Wine glasses:
    In recent years , wine glasses have become very popular , especially in modern Japanese restaurants. Excellent for serving cold sake, these containers amplify the heady aromas of the drink, making every single nuance distinguishable, without affecting the taste in the slightest and improving the tasting experience. In any case, each variant of stemware or wine glass has its own shape and size and one may be more suitable for certain types of sake than others.
  1. Cocktail Tumbler:
    While moving away from traditional containers, cocktail glasses (very similar to those used in all bars and clubs in the West) are a strong trend in the Land of the Rising Sun. Glasses made specifically for premium sake varieties have also come into use, but one stands out in particular: the sugahara , a glass with a unique design that contains many small bubbles at the base capable of transforming the object into a work of art . The transparency of the glass mixed with the color of the sake makes everything even more evocative.


  1. Bekuhai:
    The bekuhai is a special cup of sake created in Kochi prefecture , its peculiarity is that it is impossible to place it on a table once the sake has been poured . This is because the cup has a pointed base or generally has a hole in the bottom, which you have to block with your finger so that the drink does not spill out. The container was an inspiration for some sake lovers, who gave rise to a drinking game: whoever loses must drink from the bekuhai until he empties the cup.
  1. Kiriko:
    Among the most modern sake cups is kiriko , made of glass and decorated with patterns carved into it. There are two main types of this format: Edo kiriko and Satsuma kiriko . The Edo kiriko is much easier to find than the latter and generally features thinner clear glass with overlapping colored glass; unlike the Edo kiriko which has slightly more sober colours, the Satsuma kiriko has much brighter and flashier colours.


  1. Bajōhai:
    The bajohai is one of the oldest and most traditional Japanese cups . It is chalice-shaped and rests on a small, low base - although they come in different heights and thicknesses - and is usually made of ceramic or metal. It is said that people once drank from this type of cup when riding horses , probably because its structure makes it easy and firm to hold.
  1. Kiki Choko:
    Another unique cup is the janome , also called kiki-choko , which literally translates to “snake eye” . This name refers to the fact that the internal bottom of the cup has a blue double ring motif, which vaguely resembles a snake's eye, and is aimed at highlighting the transparency of the sake, highlighting its nuances and underlining its purity. The most common material janome are made from is white porcelain , but there are modern designs and manufacturers that use glass.


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