Ochoko:All about Japanese Traditional sake cup

What is an Ochoko?

Ochoko is a type of sake cup used for drinking sake. There is no clear definition of its size, but it can pour about 36-45 ml of sake, and is suitable for drinking sake in small quantities. Today, sake cups are produced in a wide variety of designs, including those with cherry blossoms, mountains, or landscapes painted on them, as well as plain ones. When actually drinking sake, you can bring out the flavor of the sake even more by arranging the sake cups according to the taste, color, nigori, and temperature of the sake. In order to enjoy sake, which is a part of Japanese culture, to the fullest extent possible, the ochoko is an indispensable piece of sake drinking utensil.

History of Ochoko

The name "Ochoko" is said to have originally been called "choku" (ちょく/ 猪口). The word "choku" means "a little bit," and there is a theory that it began to be called that in connection with the pouring of small amounts of sake. The cups themselves were not originally developed for pouring sake, but were used to serve small quantities of Japanese food, and when people began pouring sake into them, they came to be treated as sake vessels.

It is said that it was around the middle of the Edo period (1603-1867) that the sake cup began to be used like the modern ochoko (cup for pouring sake). Until then, it was common to drink large amounts of low-alcoholic sake in large cups, but as the quality of sake improved and the alcohol content became higher, it became possible to get drunk with smaller amounts, which was the turning point. As a result, the style of drinking changed from drinking large quantities of sake to drinking small quantities of sake to savor it, and the use of choko began and it established its position as one of the most representative sake drinking vessels.

What is kiki-choko?

kiki choko

Have you ever heard of kiki-choko? It is actually a type of ochoko called kiki-choko, which is used by professionals to evaluate the taste and appearance of sake. It is made of white porcelain and has a cobalt-colored Ja-no-me (snake eyes) pattern inside (a pattern with a double circle on the bottom. The circle looks like a snake's eye, hence the name "snake's eye pattern," meaning "snake's eye"). The characteristic of this pattern is that it is white and has a serpentine pattern. The white color and the serpentine pattern have a meaning: the white color makes it easier to distinguish the color of sake. The "snake eyes" pattern is used to determine the clarity and color shade of sake. As you can see when pouring various types of sake, the appearance of the cobalt-colored serpentine pattern changes depending on the type of sake poured, making it easy to tell the type of sake from its appearance. Although it is used by professionals for sake tasting, it can also be widely used for enjoying sake at home, so it is recommended for those who want to enjoy sake themselves.

What other types of sake drinking vessels are available?

There are several types of sake cups used for drinking sake other than ochoko. Let us introduce three typical sake drinking vessels.



Although there is no clear difference in definition between guinomi and ochoko, guinomi is one size larger than ochoko. While an ochoko can hold 36-45ml of sake, a guinomi is slightly larger, holding 50-180ml. Sake can be drunk in a gulp with great gusto, and by allowing the sake to sit for a while, it is possible to enjoy the taste of the sake as the temperature changes.

There is also a difference when pouring sake. While most people pour sake from a sake cup, guinomi are often poured directly from a sake bottle. The size of a guinomi is one size larger than ochoko, which may be the reason why sake is poured directly from the sake bottle.


Masu is a square-shaped sake cup made of wood. Originally used as a measuring tool to measure volume, it is sometimes used today as a vessel for pouring sake. There are no rules on how to drink sake poured into a Masu, whether you drink it by dipping it directly into your mouth or by pouring it into a glass. In Japan, when you go to an izakaya (Japanese-style pub), a glass is placed inside the Masu and the staff pours the overflowing amount into the glass.


In this case, please enjoy the sake in the glass and also enjoy the sake that overflows into the Masu.



Sakazuki are sake vessels shaped like small plates. It is not deep enough to hold a large amount of sake, but it is easy to distinguish it from a cup or a sake cup because it looks different from a cup or a sake cup. In Japan, sake cups are often used for celebratory occasions such as weddings and New Year's holidays, but they can also be used for everyday life.

Material of Ochoko

Ochoko come in a variety of shapes, such as round, square, and oval, but there are actually a wide variety of materials as well. In this article, we will introduce five typical types of materials. Since the taste of sake differs depending on the material, arranging the material according to the sake is also a key to enjoying sake.


Pottery is made by firing clay. It has the property of being gentle to the palate and enhancing sweetness. It is also characterized by its width and thickness, which is recommended when you want to taste the depth of sake more. Ceramic choko, the most popular type of sake cup, can be easily matched with any type of sake. Thick ceramic also retains heat, making it a good choice for drinking hot sake.


Porcelain has a smooth surface and makes a high-pitched clinking sound when you tap it with your finger. It is light to hold and has properties similar to glass. It can be used to enjoy a wide range of sake, from dry sake to full-bodied sake. Porcelain is thinner than ceramic and has a cooler feel to the touch, making it a good choice for enjoying cold sake.


Glass has no smell or taste peculiar to the material and allows you to directly feel the taste of sake. It is also suitable for ginjo-shu, which has a delicate flavor and gorgeous aroma. The cool and refreshing glass cups are perfect for cold sake. Pouring nigori sake, aged sake, or other sake with a distinctive color can be enjoyed for its color, shade, and appearance.

Faceted glasses with cutouts or engravings on the glass can also create a more special atmosphere due to their high design quality. It is also great to spend a special time with sake in a supreme glass created with the high skill of a craftsman.


Lacquerware is a vessel whose surface is coated with natural lacquer. Lacquerware is excellent for keeping cold sake cold and hot sake warm because of its high insulating properties. In addition to its ability to maintain temperature, lacquerware can also be enjoyed for its beautiful appearance. The glossy appearance of the vessel helps to create a special atmosphere.


Tin is said to be a highly functional metal suitable for sake cups. It is also said to purify water, transforming sake into a mellow flavor. It is a metal that does not break like ceramics or glass, nor does it rust like iron. It is also said to have a sterilizing effect and to smooth out the taste of sake by reducing its off-flavor. Along with gold, silver, and copper, it has been used in sake cups since ancient times.

4 recommended ochoko

The time spent enjoying sake can be made even more special by paying attention to the shape, material, and design of the sake cup. Choosing the right ochoko according to your daily mood is also a part of the fun. Here are 4 sake cups recommended by our editors.

Three-Color Glass Ochoko Set

This glass ochoko set comes in three colors: emerald green, cobalt blue, and bright red. These colors are made from a powder uniquely blended by this workshop to express these beautiful shades. They are sure to enhance the flavor of your sake even more when enjoying it.

Tatsujin Style Store

You can also see the craftsmanship of the workshop that produces this choko. You can see that craftsmen with solid skills are carefully working one by one to produce each piece.

Ceramic Ochoko from Kyoto

Japan Objects STORE

This ceramic ochoko is made at a kiln in Kyoto, which boasts a history of approximately 400 years. Highly regarded as Kyoto Kiyomizuyaki, this pottery has a beautifully colored glaze that will enhance the taste of sake.

Lacquer Ware Ochoko / Sake Cup Set


Coated with lacquer, this set of sake cups comes with two choko (sake cups) and a tokkuri (sake bottle). The design embodies wabi and sabi, and is sure to create a relaxing atmosphere. Both hot and cold sake can be served, allowing you to use it according to your own preference.

Harushika Ochoko with snake eyes pattern


The surface of this choko features a deer, an animal representative of Nara, and the inside is decorated with a serpentine pattern. The snake pattern makes it easy to see the color and shade of sake, so it can be enjoyed from the outside.

Experience of tasting sake at a Japanese-style izakaya (Japanese-style pub)

What did you think about Ochoko? The sake cup is indispensable to fully enjoy sake, which is a traditional Japanese cultural drink. The taste will change depending on what you choose. To summarize this article, I would like to tell you about my own experience of tasting sake at a Japanese-style izakaya.

First, after the two of us entered the izakaya, we each ordered a drink of our choice to start with. I ordered a whiskey with soda and my friend ordered a beer. When we each finished our first drink, we ordered sake.

The first sake was Hakkaisan. It is well-known in Japan, and many people think of Hakkaisan when they think of sake. The sake was chilled in the refrigerator, and the staff poured it into a tokkuri (sake cup) and prepared two cups for us.

This time, two cups were prepared for the two of us, but it is customary to get cups for the number of people present who want to drink sake. The time spent sharing sake poured into the sake cups and discussing the taste and aroma is very enjoyable.

The sake cups and choko are made of ceramic. The thick texture makes the sake mellow.This is how the sake is actually poured into the cup.

Usually drinking, the sake is poured about 80% of the way into the cup.

After pouring the sake into the cup, enjoy the appearance and aroma of the sake.This time, the cup has a black eye, so the color is not clearly visible, but the aroma can be enjoyed.Bring the cup close to your nose and enjoy the aroma.Depending on the type of sake, there are some that have no aroma at all, some that have a particularly strong sake flavor, and others that have a sweet or spicy aroma, etc. There is a very wide range of aromas. It is great fun to try different kinds of sake.

After pouring the sake, toast and drink.There are no set rules, but some people toast every time sake is poured, while others toast at random times. There are no strict rules, so enjoy the toast while checking the mood of the occasion.And speaking of sake, you also look forward to the food that accompanies it, don't you?This time we enjoyed many meals, especially yakitori and tamagoyaki, which were excellent.

Yakitori is a typical meal of Japanese food culture. Every part of the meat is skewered and grilled over a gas or charcoal fire. By the way, the green seasoning painted on the above image is wasabi. Yakitori and wasabi go very well together, so everyone should try it.

Here is the omelet.Every time I make omelet, I always think, isn't Japanese omelet artistically shaped?When I try to make them at home, I just can't cook them this well. I still have a lot of training to do.I feel that enjoying these wonderful dishes and sake is a very meaningful time in one's life. Sake is not just an alcoholic beverage, but each sake has a completely different flavor, which varies depending on the water, rice, koji, and other ingredients used in each production region. The sake cup is there to bring out the full potential of the deep flavor of sake. We hope you will enjoy delicious sake by using the right sake cup.