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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

Recommended Items at Auction

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A SILVER INCISED STEM CUP
Mar 07, 2:00 PM PST
A SILVER INCISED STEM CUP
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Est: $8,000- $10,000
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3 Teetassen
Mar 03, 11:00 AM CET
3 Teetassen
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CHINA / JAPAN - SET OF VARIOUS PORCELAINS.
Mar 02, 11:00 AM CET
CHINA / JAPAN - SET OF VARIOUS PORCELAINS.
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Two stem cups, Original Japanese Ceramics
Mar 02, 2:00 PM GMT
Two stem cups, Original Japanese Ceramics
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Est: £300- £400
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3pc Cast Iron Japanese Sake Cups
Mar 03, 10:00 AM MST
3pc Cast Iron Japanese Sake Cups
by Monarch Auction and Estate Services
Est: $0- $0
$100 Bids
2pc Japanese Cast Iron Sake Cups and Saucers
Mar 03, 10:00 AM MST
2pc Japanese Cast Iron Sake Cups and Saucers
by Monarch Auction and Estate Services
Est: $0- $0
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Five Japanese style Studio Pottery Japanese tea cups & saucers, each 8cm
Mar 07, 10:00 AM GMT
Five Japanese style Studio Pottery Japanese tea cups & saucers, each 8cm
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Est: £30- £60
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ANTIQUE JAPANESE SUMIDA GAWA EMBOSSED POTTERY MUGS
Mar 09, 10:00 AM EST
ANTIQUE JAPANESE SUMIDA GAWA EMBOSSED POTTERY MUGS
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Est: $100- $150
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Japan Micado Porcelain Cup and Saucer
Mar 03, 9:00 AM MST
Japan Micado Porcelain Cup and Saucer
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Est: $25- $50
$100 Bids
CUP & SAUCER W/BLUE VILOETS JAPAN
Mar 09, 11:00 AM CST
CUP & SAUCER W/BLUE VILOETS JAPAN
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Est: $15- $25
$20 Bids
4pc Speckled Japanese Sake Cups
Mar 03, 10:00 AM MST
4pc Speckled Japanese Sake Cups
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Est: $0- $0
$100 Bids
THREE GRADUATED JAPANESE RED LACQUER CUPS
Mar 09, 10:00 AM EST
THREE GRADUATED JAPANESE RED LACQUER CUPS
by Casco Bay Auctions
Est: $100- $200
$500 Bids
An early 20th-century Japanese tumbler
Mar 05, 10:00 AM GMT
An early 20th-century Japanese tumbler
by Lyon & Turnbull
Est: £250- £350
£1200 Bids
Vintage Wine Tasting Cups Japan Grapes
Mar 21, 9:00 AM EDT
Vintage Wine Tasting Cups Japan Grapes
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Est: $100- $200
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Cup/small cup with saucer, Japan, around 1900, cloisonné, saucer diameter 1
Mar 16, 1:00 PM CET
Cup/small cup with saucer, Japan, around 1900, cloisonné, saucer diameter 1
by Auktionshaus am See
Est: €0- €0
€400 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Japanese Glasses & Cups


Monarch Auction and Estate Services

Monarch Auction and Estate Services

Lyon & Turnbull

Lyon & Turnbull

Potteries Auctions

Potteries Auctions

Auktionshaus Schwerin

Auktionshaus Schwerin