How to choose the right sake cup to elevate your sake game

Did you know that there is a science to picking the right sake cup? Size and mouth opening all have a big impact on how a single sake sip can taste. Similar to sake varieties, there are many traditional sake cups so let’s take an introductory look into the power of the drink vessels!

Standard sake cup: ceramics

When using pottery, it is a standard practice to transfer sake from the bottle to the tokkuri or katakuchi, then pour in the small drinking vessel ochoko. Guinomi is also an appealing option for relishing in the elixir of choice.

Tokkuri is a generally bulbous flask with a narrow neck, and ceramic tokkuri have been used for storing soy sauce and vinegar due to its ability to retain the original flavor. Even nowadays, it is still used as a container for soba-yu, the cooking water that is left after the noodles.

Katakuchi is a bowl-shaped vessel with a wide mouth that enhances the flavour and widely used for salad dressings or decoration.

Ochoko often comes with a sake set. It is a one-gulp drinking vessel and generally smaller in size in comparison to the guinomi cup. The latter one is more suitable for taking bigger gulps rather than sips, eliminating the need to use tokkuri or katakuchi. Famous ochoko is expensive, but you can easily find the cheaper version at 100-yen shops. If you want to smell the sake flavor, guinomi cups with a broadened neck will let the fragrance of the sake waft gently upward. Be aware that ceramic ware easily absorbs alcohol -  dry it thoroughly after using.

Standard sake cup: glass

Glass sake cups are recommended for cold sake. There are many types of glass, from thin to thick, all of which allows you to better catch the subtleties. According to EDO-KIRIKO, if you want to enjoy the taste to its fullest, a suitable size for your gulp is a must.

Others: tin sake cup

Tin sake cups are more expensive than pottery and glass. For more elegant sake time, or gifts for sake lovers that bring a good fortune, tin sake sets have been popular items. Since it is harmless to the human body, tin has been used since the Nara period and is believed to soften a sake taste, though not proven scientifically. Due to its ability to transfer heat very well, it is suitable for both cold sake and hot sake, one-gulpers and long drink lovers. Please note that you cannot use it with open fire and microwave ovens.

Others: wooden sake cup

Wooden boxes for sake are called masu. Some restaurants serve a glass sitting inside a masu with the sake spilling over the rim of the glass and into the box. This unusual style of sake spilling, known as ‘mokkiri’, shows the proprietor's hospitality. Today, masu are often used for serving sake at weddings and celebrations, and a good manner is to drink it from a flat surface instead of a corner.

We do not recommend masu for those who want to enjoy the flavor of sake alone due to the mix with a Japanese cypress smell, but for those who appreciate the aroma of wood it is perfect. When using at home, it is important to avoid washing it with hot water or dishwasher, handle gently and dry it well to prevent distortion or damage.

Summary

Temperature Situation
Hot sake Cold sake Drinking alone Drinking in a group Celebrations
Ceramics (ochoko)
Guinomi
Katakuchi
Glass
Tin
Wood

If you want to enjoy sake you have chosen thoroughly, choose a sake cup suitable for the occasion, drinking style and your mood. When traveling in Japan, cherish the various kinds of sake each season has to offer!