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Sake Cup: Sake in Japanese Tradition and Culture

by Savanna Mathis

Senzan. (Japanese, 20th century). Sake Cup, 20th century porcelain. Ackland Art Museum, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Gift of Simon Kriger, 63.14.9

Sake is an alcoholic wine of Japanese origin created through the process of fermenting rice. Because of Japan’s location, much of Japanese culture and religion centers around the appreciation of nature and what it has to offer. Rice is one of the many products of nature that has become a staple in Japan. Because of the significance of rice in Japan, Sake and many other rice products are considered the most extravagant offerings that can be presented to the gods. Sake is also a culturally significant drink in Japan for bring people together through different festivities such as weddings, New Year’s, and more.

Sake cups come in a variety of shapes and sizes. They can be made from a variety of materials as well, including silver, glass, porcelain, and more. Sake cups not only elevate the drinking experience, but they also display the craftsmanship and creativity of Japanese artists as many of the cups are extremely ornate in design. Ceramics are often a popular choice for Sake cups as they can be crafted with almost any design and provide an elegant appearance to Sake drinking. Sake Cup pictured above was crafted by the artist Senzan somewhere in Japan in the 20th century. The cup is made of porcelain and depicts what appears to be the branches of a tree of plums. This design is a unique addition to the cup as plums are a popular pairing with Sake. The cup ultimately represents the drinking of Sake as a bonding aspect of life in Japan. The process brings people together and praises Japanese culture and identity.

Works Cited

“The Beauty and Craftsmanship of Japanese Sake Cups.” Suigenkyo Online Store, Suigenkyo Online Store, 29 June 2023,

“Sake in Japanese Tradition and Culture: JSS.” Japan Sake and Shochu Makers Association | JSS, 14 Jan. 2022,


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