25 March 2022
Guide for Japanese Sake Sets
Sake, made from rice, is a traditional drink that has connected people to each other since ancient times in Japan. Also, sake utensils have supported the culture of how to drink sake.
Sake sets of various types are used from ceremonial occasions to casual parties, but what type of sake set is your favorite? Here we explain the usage and charm of each sake-related item.
- Japanese Sake Cup
- Japanese Sake Carafe
- Japanese Sake Warmer
- Japanese Sake Cooler
- Tips to make your Sake experience more quality
Japanese Sake Cup
Sake cups are the most basic item for drinking sake, and are available in various shapes such as Sakazuki, Ochoko, and Guinomi, each of which has its own unique way of tasting sake.
To help you find your favorite sake cup, we will introduce you to the characteristics of each type, the suitable occasion, and the type of sake that goes well with it.
Type of Japanese Sake Cup
Typical types of Sake cups are traditional Sakazuki, Ochoko, and Guinomi. In addition, glass sake cups are also available for sake and many other types of drinks. Let's take a look at the characteristics of each.
Sakazuki is the most traditional type of Japanese sake cup. Shaped like a semicircular dish, it has a large surface area exposed to the air when sake is poured into it, and has also been used for visually atmospheric drinking, such as to float flower petals or reflect moonlight.
Sakazuki is also the sake cup used in ceremonies and celebrations such as weddings and New Year's, and is suitable for sakes to be drunk at events that are memorable.
Because it is made to be drunk in small quantities, it is also suitable for drinking high-class or special sake.
The delicately decorated Aizu lacquerware sake cups are so beautiful that you will want to display them instead of putting them away in a cupboard.
Ochoko, also called Inokuchi in some regions, is a sake cup used in combination with Tokkuri sake carafe. Ochoko is perfect for casual gatherings with family and friends to share sakes and deepen relationships.
In Japan, this type of sake cup has been used since around the Edo period (1603-1867), and is probably the most commonly seen type of sake cup in Japanese izakaya (Japanese style pubs).
It is often used in sets with Tokkuri, but many connoisseurs collect them individually. It is also suitable for warmed sake when used with tokkuri.
Soukyu Kiln's gold and silver Ochoko set has a deep luster that will add a luxurious touch to your sake time.
Guginomi is a sake cup, which means "to drink vigorously" in Japanese, and has a larger capacity than a sakazuki or ochoko, making it suitable for enjoying sake by yourself.
It is about the size of a small coffee cup or espresso cup, and is suitable for when you want to drink a lot of sake at once. The thicker body of the Guinomi would also be a good match for cloudy sake.
It is also useful for drinking cold sake or when you want to drink different kinds of sake at a gathering.
KISEN's Guinomi, which is sold in top stores around the world, is the result of a collaboration between wood craftsmen from Yamanaka-lacquerware and metal craftsmen from Takaoka Copperware.
Japanese glassware has a relatively new history, but many items have a soft, handmade sense and are also popular as sake cups.
They are suitable for cold sake, and you may enjoy the aroma like wine while tilting the glass. They are perfect for sake with a gorgeous aroma, such as Ginjo sake.
It is also suitable for sparkling sake, and can be used with all kinds of alcoholic drinks, including whiskey and wine, etc. Therefore, it is an easy choice as a gift for someone you have known for a short period of time.
Hirota's sake glass set is the ultimate item dedicated to bringing out the best in sake. Recommended for those who want to enjoy sake more deeply.
Type of Sake and Matching Sake Cup Materials
As mentioned above, sake cups come in a variety of shapes, however, they are also made from a variety of materials. The taste of sake can also vary depending on the material of the sake cup.
It is slightly thicker, allowing for a mellower taste of sake, and are suitable for heating junmai sake and cloudy sake.
It has a thin rim that touches the mouth, allowing you to delicately taste sake with a sharp taste and aroma, such as ginjo sake. Both heated and cold sake can be enjoyed.
Japanese lacquerware sake cup feels wonderfully mellow and mild. It is also suitable for heating sake because it does not transfer heat easily, and keeps cold sake fresh.
Glass sake cups are exclusively for cold sake, and are also suitable for colored sake such as old sake, and sparkling sake.
Metal sake cups can also be used only for cold sake. Tinware, in particular, has a fruity aroma unique to the material itself and enhances the taste of all kinds of sake.
Japanese Sake Carafe
Type of Japanese Sake Carafe
There are different types of sake carafe: Tokkuri, Katakuchi, and Chirori. Each has a different shape, material, and usability.
Tokkuri is a standard style of sake carafe. It is shaped like a gourd. While ceramic and porcelain are the most common, there are also made of glass with cool designs for cold sake.
It is the most casual all-around sake carafe that can be used for both cold and warm sake.
Katakuchi is a sake carafe used for more formal occasions than tokkuri, and is made of a variety of materials, many of which are fashionably designed.
The katakuchi is basically used only for cold sake, and those with an open rim can be served with flower petals floating on the rim for a beautiful looking sake.
Chirori is a sake carafe for warm sake, and is often made of metals such as copper or tin, which have high thermal conductivity, to easily temperature sake.
Chirori are more luxurious than tokkuri in terms of sake carafe for warm sake, and are also used in Ryotei (high-end Japanese restaurants).
Tin chirori, in particular, enhances the aroma of sake and mellows out any impurities, making it a coveted tool for sake lovers.
Seigado's tin chirori is truly worthy of being called a lifetime product. It is formed by craftsmen tapping a tin plate tens of thousands of times.
Chirori also comes in the form of pots like this one. In either shape, you can also enjoy cold sake by using ice water instead of hot water.
This very beautiful Edo Kiriko chirori is from Hirota Glass. The wooden lid is produced by Gatomikio, famous for their well-designed Yamanaka-lacquer tableware.
For Warm Sake, Cold Sake
By using the sake carafe, you can enjoy a wide variety of sakes at different temperatures: aromatic sakes such as Ginjo sake are suitable for cold serving, while deep-flavored sakes such as Junmai sake can also be enjoyed as warm sake during the chilly fall to winter season.
While warming sake with tokkuri or chirori requires boiling sake in a pot, the sake warmer allows you to easily make and enjoy warm sake on your table.
Traditionally, the size of a sake carafe is determined by its "gou" capacity: 1 gou is 180 ml / 6oz.
Tokkuri: 1~3 gou. (180~540ml /6~18oz) Approximately 5-10cm/1.9-3.9 inches in diameter and 10~15 cm/3.9-5.9 inches high.
Katakuchi: 1~2 gou. (180~360ml /4.4~12oz) Approximately 5-10cm/1.9-3.9 inches in diameter and 10~15 cm/3.9-5.9 inches high.
Chirori: 0.8~2 gou. (130~360ml /4.4~12oz) Approximately 5-10cm/1.9-3.9 inches in diameter and 5~15 cm/1.9-5.9 inches high.
Japanese Sake Warmer
A sake warmer is a small pot for warming sake on a tabletop. Fill the sake wormer with boiling water, dip tokkuri or chirori on it, and leave it for a few minutes to warm the sake.
Since the sake is not placed in continuously boiling water, the aroma and flavor of the sake is not spoiled and the delicious warm sake can be enjoyed in an aesthetically pleasing manner.
Sake Warmer Materials
Sake warmers are available in ceramic, porcelain, and copper ware. While ceramic and porcelain sake warmers are used by pouring boiling water into them, some copper sake warmers are easier to use because they can be used to boil water directly over heat after filling them with water.
Since the usage of sake warmer varies depending on the product, please read the product-specific instructions carefully to avoid burns or damage to the product and use it correctly.
In most cases, it is large enough to hold a 1 gou (180ml / 6oz) sized tokkuri or chirori.
Japanese Sake Cooler
Have you ever had the experience of drinking sake that tastes good chilled, but after taking it out of the refrigerator, it returns to room temperature and you can't drink it at its best?
It is fine if the sake tastes good when it is chilled and then returned to room temperature, but many people still prefer to enjoy cold sake on a hot summer day or to pair with the food. White wine is often chilled in a bottle cooler and placed on the table, it is also effective for sake!
Sake Cooler Materials
Sake coolers have various materials such as ceramic, porcelain, wood, and glass. Choose the one that best suits your interior design and use. If the sake cups you have are simple, a gorgeous porcelain cooler may be a good match. On the other hand, if you have brightly colored sake cups, a cooler made of natural materials such as ceramic or wood may look better. If you want to create a cooler atmosphere, glass is also a great choice.
In most cases, it is large enough to hold a 1 bottle of Sake in 4 gou size (720ml/ 24.3oz). A regular wine bottle is 750 ml (25.4 oz), so it can be used for both purposes.
Tips to make your Sake experience more quality
The most important thing when drinking sake is to enjoy the moment. The traditional etiquette details may not be so important when compared to that.
However, if you know the correct etiquette and can practice it when necessary, it will make your drinking time more enjoyable with your friends. Here are some of the basic etiquette rules.
When pouring Sake
Hold the sake carafe in the center with your right hand and support it with your left hand. Be careful not to let the sake carafe touch the sake cup while pouring.
The amount to be poured should be no more than about 70-80% of the cup.
It is considered bad manners to fill the entire cup. A slight twist of the right wrist at the end of the pour will help prevent dripping. It is not good manners to use a "peeking" or "swinging" sake carafe to see what is inside, to collect the remaining sake in one sake carafe, or to tip over the sake carafe after drinking.
How to Hold Sake Cups
Hold it with the thumb and index finger of one hand, and hold it so that the middle and ring fingers pinch the bottom of the sake cup. Either the right or left hand can be used.
Incidentally, in the old days when there were samurai, it was common to hold the sake cup with the hand opposite to the dominant hand so that the sword could be quickly removed from the scabbard in case of emergency.
It is stable when held in one hand, even when holding a large sake cup, because the bottom is held between the fingers.
When someone pours you a sake, or when you want to make a more elegant gesture, you can attach your other hand under the bottom.
Etiquette, a Form of Communication
When someone pours sake for you, if there is any sake left in your sake cup, you should take a sip before accepting it. It is also considered good practice to take a sip of the sake before placing the sake cup on the table after it has been poured.
Proper etiquette makes you look more beautiful and impressive. We encourage you to give it a try.