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Japanese Glasses & Cups

Famous for tea ceremonies and sake, the Japanese value the use and design of cups and glasses as vessels that not only contain liquid, but also inform the experience of sake or tea consumption. In Japanese culture, the memory of an act is highly valued, so there is particular weight placed on the activation of all of a participant’s senses. The feel and look of a container has equal significance to the taste, look, and smell of the beverage.

For the purpose of serving sake, a set includes a flask and cups that are usually either made of ceramic or glass. Less often, sake cups can be made of lacquered wood or metal. Because sake is often served warm, sake flasks tend to have bulbous bottoms to allow for more to be heated at a time, and thin necks to prevent heat from escaping from the top. Non-traditional sake cups take the form of wide-mouthed shot glasses, however, sake cups in ceremony are cylindrical shaped or bowl shaped. Further contemporary developments in Japanese sake glasses include glass stemware to serve chilled sake as opposed to the traditional stem-less cylinder.

Japanese teacups are also often made of ceramic. Similar to sake cups, general use teacups tend to be small, while ceremonial tea cups are often larger and look more like bowls. In the creation of teacups, Japanese artists tend to create coarser forms rather than the smoother, more thin-walled delicate forms of their Chinese counterparts. This follows the Japanese preference for wabi-sabi, or acceptance and even admiration of imperfections, which lend themselves to a more memorable experience of drinking tea.


Quick Facts

  • Sake was originally sold in and consumed from wooden boxes known as "masu." This wood was said to enhance the taste of the sake. Over time, experts frowned upon this practice as they believed the wood instead tainted the purity and taste of the sake
  • The traditional sake cup is a symbol of prosperity. In order to bring good luck and wealth to a person, it is common practice to place a sake glass inside a masu box and fill the sake glass so full that the sake pours over and into the masu
  • Globally, cultures have used human skulls as mediums for their drinking vessels since as early as 14,700 A.D., and this includes the Japanese. The brutal Japanese shogun Oda Nobunaga famously crafted cups from the skulls of defeated opposition to serve as a warning to those who dared question his leadership

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Sellers Who Sell Japanese Glasses & Cups


Designer Homes of Central Florida

Designer Homes of Central Florida

Alex Cooper

Alex Cooper

Nagel Auction

Nagel Auction

Oise Encheres

Oise Encheres