Containers to enjoy Japanese sake 

Sake brewing techniques developed rapidly in temples during the Muromachi period (1336-1573). Afterwards, sake brewing techniques spread to Nara city and Kyoto city, the main sake brewing centers at the time, then nationwide. One sake brewery after another sprung up in rice production regions and locations where rice is easy to obtain, along with quality water and soil, and in commercial districts where sake is consumed in high volumes. 

As sake consumption increased, so did beautiful containers created to pour and savor sake. 

The term sakazuki, or sake cup, is derived from the phrase “cup to serve sake,” with up to fifty-one characters to describe this object. An essential container to enjoy sake, various containers have been created since ancient times. 

Sake cups like the modern cups today were said to have been created around the Asuka period (592~710). Unglazed earthenware created by turning a pottery wheel from mainland China was placed before the altar as offerings. Earthenware sake cups gradually became obsolete from the mid-Heian period (794~1185) to the Kamakura period (1185-1333). At the same time, the lacquerware technique evolved during this period, and lacquerware sake cups started to become widespread.           

During the Muromachi period (1336-1573), samurai warriors practiced formalities during banquets serving sake. As the rules of socialization became widely practiced, lacquerware sake cups became widely used. Large lacquerware sake cups were essential for the feudal lord and vassal to pass around a single sake cup. These lacquerware sake cups are named according to the volume as follows: The “Itsukushima” is a 900 ml cup, “Kamakura” is a 1,260 ml cup, “Ejima” is an 1,800 ml cup, “Manjunuryou” is a 2,700 ml cup, “Mounokame” is a 4,500 ml cup, and the “Tanchozuru” is a 5,400 ml cup.    

Lacquerware sake cups were used early into the Edo period (1603-1867). As Seto porcelain became widespread nationwide since the Bunka period (1804~1814), porcelain “sake cups” started to be used exclusively at the same time.   

Also, “large sake cups” slightly smaller than the small sake cup came a little later. Sake cups and large sake cups were vessels used to serve food, repurposed as sake cups.     

Novelty sake cups emerged later during the Edo period (1603-1867). Some sake cups are pointed at the bottom or have small holes open to ensure the sake is finished before the sake cup is placed back on the table. On the other hand, the “horse-loading sake cup” is a large porcelain cup with very long legs, held to drink sake from the cup on top of the horse. However, this sake cup appears to have been a decorative cup. Also, glass sake cups and bottles emerged during this period, but mostly did not become widespread. In fact, glass sake cups and bottles became widespread only recently.  





サカズキは「酒杯」(酒を盛る器)に由来する言葉で、それを表す文字は 51字にも及ぶという。酒を飲むのに欠かせない容器であり、古代からさまざまなものが作られてきた。 


江戸時代に入っても、『寛政見聞記』に「酒の器は鉄銚子塗盃に限りたる」 とあるように、漆器の盃が用いられていたが、文化年間(1804~14)頃から瀬戸磁器が全国に広まると同時に、磁器の「猪ロ」がもっぱら盃として用いられるようになった。また、やや遅れて猪ロよりも小ぶりの「ぐい呑み」が現れた。猪ロやぐい呑みは、和え物などの料理を盛る器として用いられていた器で、それが盃に転用されたのである。