10 Sake Vessels You Should Add to your Collection

Greeting Sake Lovers, welcome to another KURAND Magazine article that introduces you to the world of sake.

Switching up the vessel you enjoy sake out of is an easy way to add an extra dimension to any sake tasting, sometimes with exciting, surprising results. Most people are familiar with, and quite happy just drinking out of the small porcelain cups called ochoko, but there is so much more diversity to explore. The variety is as diverse as sake itself.

Just a small variation in size, design, aperture, and material can transform the flavor and aroma of sake or even its aesthetics, or perhaps, it spirits you away to a deeper level of sake enjoyment. The point is that by always drinking from the same vessel, you could be subconsciously limiting your enjoyment of sake and missing out on the depth it has to offer.

So without further ado, here are 10 of our top sake vessel picks that, also make great collector’s items.

1. Fuji Ochoko Type: Tenkai Sakazuki

Difficulty to find: * Available at KURAND (not to buy though….)
There really is no better souvenir to take home than a Mt.Fuji shaped ochoko to show that you have climbed the peaks of your sake journey. This ochoko is just the right shape for making those rough and ready, sharp, dry sake easier to drink.

2. Kikutsunagi (Chrysanthemum Chain) Kiriko Type: Takadai Sakazuki

Difficulty to find: ***

Sake in a cut glass is like a diamond set in a jewel-encrusted ring. There is no better vessel to add a touch of class to your sake tasting experience. To create this level of sophistication requires equally sophisticated craftsmanship, craftsmanship that was cultivated in Tokyo’s Shinagawa district in the turn of the 20th century under the watchful eye of a British glass engineer. It takes years to perfect the skills required to master the intricate cross stitch pattern on the glass from which this style gets its name. Although originally inspired by British glass cutting over the 100+ years of its history, this is a very much Japanese craftsmanship at its absolute best. Makes a great present or little treat for yours truly. No sake loving household should be without at least one kiriko glass in its cupboard. Reserve this one for special occasions and break out your most elegant refined junmai daiginjo/ daiginjo which is a perfect match for the larger aperture.

3. Kokuryu Type: Hirasakazuki (hirahai)

Difficulty to find: *****

The eponymous Kokuryu sake brand in Fukui Prefecture that should need no introduction joined forces with local craftsman to produce the ultimate sake sipping cup. With a larger aperture, this saucer type sake vessel is great for bringing all the flavors in the sake into balance. Even the most aggressive sake are tamed in the delicately cut thin glass. Also great for enjoying warm sake. The glass is quite thin so be careful when warming.

4. Aritayaki Takumi no Kura Type: Guinomi

Difficulty to find: **
It is easy to confuse guinomi with ochoko, but guinomi normally have heavier bases and thicker sides. This set comprises of two differently shaped

We absolutely love this set of Aritayaki ware guinomi for comparing tanrei (light) and houjun (rich) styles of sake—one glass for each. The key feature is the size of the aperture. The wider and more open the aperture the more direct the entrance of the sake, which stops the sake from becoming too thinly spread out the tongue. The convex design of the houjun glass helps to hold back any unwanted sharpness and acidity so that you enjoy the rich flavor of houjun sake without all the background noise. If you can only afford, or only have space for two vessels in your house, nearly all sake can be divided into these two flavor profiles so these two glasses will have you covered.

5. Kutani Type: Gosouka (5 flowers) Type: Ceramic Guinomi

Difficulty to find: ***

A very attractive set of vessels for enjoying sake warm.

6. Riedel Vinom Daiginjo Wineglass Type: Wineglass

Difficulty to find: * (more or less readily available)

Have you ever tried sake in a wine glass?
It’s a question that would probably elicit a similar response in Japan, regardless of who you ask: ‘hang on? don’t you mean Ochoko?’, the de facto traditional drinking vessel of choice for sake. But contrary to that natural assumption, sake actually performs just as well in a wine glass as it does in any other type of receptacle. In fact, there are lots of merits to the experience, as this previous article outlines: https://kurand.jp/en/11976/

This glass from the renowned Riedel glassmakers is designed for enjoying daiginjo sake, but we find that sparkling sake excels in this glass as well.

7. Wooden Tohka Type: Ochoko

Difficulty to find: **

It is pretty rare to see people drinking from wooden ochoko but it is not without its fans. Wood generally makes the sake softer. Wooden vessels are better suited to non-aromatic styles of sake where there are no delicate fruity, floral notes to clash with. Thinky sawn vessels tend to add a nice sharpness to light bodied sake.

8. Shotoku Usuhari Daiginjo Type: Stemless Glass

Difficulty to find: *

If you are not ready to make the leap to wineglass yet, the paper-thin stemless usuhari glass provides a great entry-level alternative. At 0.9mm, paper thin is not an exaggeration. Rather remarkably, the company behind these glasses claims that they are just as strong as ordinary glassware. Originally, a light bulb blowing factory, Shotoku transferred its skills to glass blowing and quickly established a reputation as one of the masters of its craft. These glasses are so thin, it is like drinking sake out of thin air and removes all the background noise so that you can connect with your sake in a clean space. Perfect for diving into those super shy ginjo sake.

9. Kiki II Gold Leaf Type: Tin Ochoko

Difficulty to find: ***

Combining antibacterial powers and conductive properties, tin provides the perfect vessel for enhancing the freshness of sake and exploring different temperatures; keeping warm sake warm and cool sake cool for longer. Some tin vessels are also extremely malleable so you can bend them into different shapes. Additionally, various scientific tests.

Each cup is painstakingly gilded with tiny gold leaf by hand by the master craftspeople of Kanazawa (Ishikawa Prefecture) of which the area is famous.

10. Aotake Bamboo Irori Set Type: Tokkuri (carafe)

Difficulty to find: ***

What could be more eccentric than warming your sake in bamboo? Well, that’s precisely how sake is traditionally served at the traditional Japanese fireplace banquet setting called irori. While very few people will have their own irori, you could add a touch of eccentricity to your next campfire gathering and who says this would look out of place at the dinner table.
The shape of the vessel helps bring out the rice-derived sweetness in fresh namazake and levels out the acidity.

One of the cool features of KURAND is that you choose your own vessel and our selection is getting bigger and more diverse all the time. Who knows, maybe you will find some Mount Fuji ochoko or something even stranger. Whatever you choose, there is no better way to start your journey into the world of sake than at KURAND, where you can taste over 100 types of sake without time limits, all for one flat fee.