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The Masu Sake Cup; The Unique Japanese Sake Serving Style, How To Enjoy It?

how to enjoy sake from the masu sake cup Food & Recipes

“To use a Masu sake cup”- you can enjoy and taste sake better rather than just a glass. “Masu” is the square wooden or plastic-made cup serving Japanese Sake.

You may already have experienced Sake served with a Masu sake cup.

Indeed, there are two ways to serve Sake with a Masu cup- one is which Sake directly filled in the Masu cup, another is which a small glass placed in the Masu cup and Sake is filled and overflowed into a cup.

What’s the glass for??? And why Sake is overflowed???

How can you drink the overflowed Sake in the Masu cup???

Of course, there is a ritual to drink Japanese Sake in proper steps.

To avoid getting confused when traveling in Japan or when having dinner at a fancy Japanese restaurant, I am going to guide you on how to drink Sake served with a Masu cup.

MASU- The Attractive Square Sake Cup

Masu sake cups, wooden masu cups, a small glass in the masu cup, Japanese, Sake,

The History

Masu is known as a representative of sake ware.

The original use of Masu is a measuring cup that sells rice, oil, salt, wheat, liquor, etc. a long time ago. Today’s “Masu and Sake” stereotype was embedded when merchants began selling Sake to customers in Masu cups after measuring it in the Edo period.

Recently, Masu cups have become popular not only Sake ware for connoisseurs and ceremonies but also as interior decorations with a more modern and stylish design. The role of the old measuring cup has diminished, but instead, it colors our lives today.

Common Materials Of Masu Sake Cup

There are different types of Masu cups. Let’s dive into the differences.

The Wooden Masu Cups

Until a decade ago, the Japanese cedar Masu cup was common, but today Hinoki cypress Masu cup is more popular.

The features of the wooden Masu cup are a natural warmth, its scent, and smooth touch. On the other hand, if you don’t like the scent of wood, the wooden Masu cup is not suitable.

About Hinoki Masu Cup

Drinking sake with a Masu cup is a Sake aesthetic in Japan, but there is a good reason for the hinoki cypress scent to enhance the taste of sake.

Speaking of Hinoki cypress, Kiso Hinoki cypress is well-known as well as Aomori Hiba. As I repeat saying in other posts about the Hinoki cypress, it has long been used as wood for building temples and shrines. Which has been used as a precious wood since ancient times.

Along with Japanese cedar, the Japanese “Hinoki” cypress is a typical material and is generally considered to be more luxurious.

Japanese Lacquer “Urushi-Nuri” Masu cup

The Japanesa Masu cup, Japanese lacquerware,

There are two types of Japanese lacker Masu cups, apply Japanese lacquer on the wooden Masu cup, and the other with red or black paint of plastic-made, which can be seen as Japanese Japanese lacquer at a glance. Obviously, the Japanese lacquer Wooden Masu cup is of very high quality and is often sent as a gift.

Types Of Serving Ways Using Masu Sake Cup

In general, even in Japan, there are many opportunities to drink with a sake set called Ochoko or Guinomi, but Japanese Sake connoisseurs and Sake-specialty izakaya are particular about using Masu sake cups.

There are two ways to drink sake using a Masu cup- “Masusake” and “Mokkiri” styles. The difference between the “Masusake” and “Mokkiri” is a glass is in the Masu cup or not.

“Masusake” style is the way that sake is directly served into a Masu cup, you will often see it at celebration parties such as weddings because it is considered the lucky charm.

On the other hand, at Izakayas in Japan, Japanese Sake often is served in “mokkiri” style, in which glass is placed in a Masu cup and sake is overflowed into it.

Mokkiri Style-The Sake Serving Style With Japnese Hospitality

60, Japanese phrase

The original word is “Morikiri” which referred to filling the Sake up to the limit of the Masu cup and selling it to the customers in the old time.

Later, at izakayas in old-time, sake was served in “1 Go” = 180 ml each, but it couldn’t fit in a small glass. At that time, it is said that the beginning of the Mokkiri style is to place a small plate or a Masu sake cup under the glass and pour sake until over-flowing on purpose.

Some Izakaya serves Sake with a little spilled from the glass, while others serve sake that the over-flowed sake into Masu cups.

In other words, Mokkiri serving style is also an expression of the “hospitality” that they hope you enjoy as much Sake under the fixed price.

How To Drink Sake Served Masu Cup

Now, you can step up if you know the “Iki” (chic, stylish in Japanese, ) way of how to drink Sake served with Mokkiri style and Masu sake.

Despite the unique Mokkiri serving style being impressive and you are feeling happy (or lucky) with the sake overflowed, many people get in trouble.

“How do you drink this?”

Mokkiri Style

Mokkiri style, the unique sake serving way in Japan, traditional, sake, a masu cup,

Actually, there are no rules for how to drink to enjoy Sake. But connoisseurs and the Izakaya master may keep eyes on you if you master Mokkiri style.

Let’s learn to conquer the “Mokkiri” drinking style that even beginners can drink with peace of mind!

The First Sip

  1. Sip sake from a glass taken out after transferring the overflowing sake into the Masu cup a little.
  2. Sip directly from a glass without taking it out of the Masu cup.
Sip sake from glass taken out

First of all, what should we do now to lift up the glass that is likely to spill Sake over?

You can drink Sake neatly by tilting the glass and then transferring the overflowing sake into the Masu cup a little.

Sip directly from a glass without taking it out of the Masu cup

It is NOT a bad manner in Japan to bring your mouth close to Sake and sip it from a glass.

Yet, choose number 1 if you are not comfortable sipping in this way.

The following step after the first sip

1, Sip Sake in a glass transferring it a little by little into the Masu cup each time drinks. After sipping, try to put the glass into the Masu cup each time.

If you are concerned about the water droplets or drips of the glass, you can wipe it off.

In another option this way, you don’t have to put the glass back in the Masu cup. However, after placing the glass on the table, never put it in the Masu cup.

2, When the sake in the glass is getting few, Sip directly from the Masu cup without using a glass. You can enjoy sake with a strong aroma of the wood.

3, If you are hesitant to drink sake from the Masu cup or you don’t like the woody aroma much, pour the rest of the sake from the Masu cup into the glass and drink it up. Enjoy the faint scent of the Masu cup that has been transferred to sake.

If you want another order, use the same Masu cup. Keep thee Masu cup.

How To Drink Masusake

There are some etiquettes when Sake is served in a Masu cup only, or when to drink sake in a Masu cup of mokkiri style.

How To Hold A Masu Cup

how to drink Japanese sake with a masu cup,

First, lift the Masu cup from the sides with both hands and support the bottom with four other than your thumb. Place the thumb on the top of the cup. At that time, it is elegant to support the Masu cup with another hand. It is a not good manner to grab the Masu cup from above. Be careful not to drop the Masu cup accidentally as it is filled Sake.

How To Sip Sake

When you drink sake from a Masu cup, it is likely to sip from the corner, which is easy to drink, but, it is not a formal way. Sip sake from the flat side, not corners.

Of course, you can drink from the corner in casual situations, but as I mentioned before, it is better to know as a formal way of drinking Sake with a Masu cup.
It is “Iki”.

In a formal situation in Japan, avoid sipping Sake from the corners of a Masu cup.

Salt- The Item For Japanese Sake Connoisseurs

If you love Japanese sake, you may want to be called the “sake connoisseur.” As the point of being the sake connoisseur, you can enjoy Masu Sake, and SALT.

Sake and salt go well together.
In the old days when there was not a variety of food snacks, people enjoyed sake with salt or miso.

Besides, it is said that Salt sharpens the taste of Sake better and makes the aftertaste clear.

Place the pinch of salt on one of the corners of the Masu sake cup, lick it little by little and drink Sake.

You can also put a little salt on the finger and lick it while drinking.

Since Japanese Sake is made from rice, it contains rich savory elements; Sweetness, Bitterness, Sourness, and Umami. Salt adds saltiness. Try it the next time, people think you are a sake connoisseur!

Taste Sake “Iki” Stylish Way!

There are many styles of enjoying Japanese sake, I talked about the style served with the Masu cups. No longer you don’t have to worry about how to sip from the square Sake cup.

However, as you gain knowledge and become stubborn to follow the ritual, you will gradually be not able to enjoy Japanese Sake.
When you get accustomed to it, enjoy drinking Sake in several ways keeping the minimum manners.

If you get Hinoki Masu cup, please read this post next about how to take care of it before and after use.

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