Monday, December 7, 2009


Guinomi is the Japanese word for the large deep sake cup. The word for the small shallow cup is sakaduki. There are several basic materials for sake cups most notable of which is ceramic clay for tsuchi-aji, an earthy feel; and the ever humble square Japanese cedar cups, called masu. Masu cups tend to overwhelm the flavor of sake and is not generally used for finer sakes.
As an art and pottery collector and connoisseur of sake I could not pass up the opportunity to acquire an authentic guinomi. Usually I shop for pottery in the plentiful state of North Carolina, but in this case it seemed more appropriate to embrace a Japanese tradition. After an extensive search looking for something rustic, original and of manageable expense, I chose the one displayed below which was handcrafted by bizen artist Suzuki Tsunki in Okayama. It is about 2.4" high and 2.9" in diameter holding a modest 3.7 ounces of fine sake. The eight-sided shape of this cup is called Rokaku-hai.Bizen pottery, bizenyaki, is known to have started in the 12 century creating unglazed pottery with wood-fired kilns. Bizen pottery is well-known as one of the 6 ancient Japanese kilns. When looking for authentic traditional pottery from this area, be sure to ask if it was wood-fired in the traditional way. There is a robust assortment of pottery available from more modern gas-fired kilns as well.

So what's the big deal, you ask? Well, to some, maybe nothing... Heck most American's I know don't even like sake. That said, the majority who don't like it have never had real sake. They think it is something served hot with sushi. True sake is served cold and has a flavor delicate and pure with fragrances sweet to the nose and complex to the tongue.This cup has a texture felt both on the lips and tongue. It adds a new dimension to the already complex product for the senses. It may not save your palate from the ravages of brewer's alcohol often mascaraed as sake nor the hangover that is sure to follow from poor quality sake. But filled with the true daiginjo-shu it may add a sensation previously reserved for the angles. True sake is a deep breath of fresh air in the midst of a feild blooming cheerie trees washed down with a mist from a cold and pure mountain waterfall. It is an experience to be cheerished to the very last drop.
I hope this article inspires others to seek out and enjoy pottery art for themselves. This cup was purchased online from Artistic Nippon. 4/12/09

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