Sake Servers (Tokkuri) Miniaturized for Pubs and Evening Drinks
Sake Server with a Laurel Leaves Design

Sake Servers (Tokkuri) Miniaturized for Pubs and Evening Drinks Sake Server with a Laurel Leaves Design

  • Period: Meiji
  • Materials: Porcelain
  • Dimensions: Height: 14 cm, Base diameter: 5 cm, Capacity: 1.5 go (270 mL)
  • Sake Servers (Tokkuri) Miniaturized for Pubs and Evening Drinks Sake Server with a Laurel Leaves Design
  • Sake Servers (Tokkuri) Miniaturized for Pubs and Evening Drinks Sake Server with a Laurel Leaves Design

This colored sake server depicts a design of laurel leaves as used in a laurel wreath, or “gekkeikan” in Japanese. On the rear, it has a design showing the characters “月桂冠” (Gekkeikan), and on the base it reads “Made by Okura Honke.” The tokkuri, the traditional serving flask for sake, is also sometimes termed a “choshi,” as used here. The term “choshi” originally referred to metal or wood vessels with long handles, which were used for banquets or the three-times-three exchange of nuptial cups at weddings. Tokkuri flasks are, like choshi, used to pour sake into cups, so often end up being referred to as choshi as well.

The shape of the tokkuri developed from the “heishi” sake vessel used to offer sake in the kamidana (household Shinto altar). For consumer use, larger tokkuri such as “kayoi-tokkuri” (flasks for patrons) or “kashi-tokkuri” (flasks for loan) were used for by-volume sales or for transporting samples for tasting. There was a range of sizes, from around 4 go (720 mL) to 1 sho (1,800 mL), and even huge 2 or 3 sho flasks. These were used not just for sake, but for transporting and storing grains or liquids such as soy sauce or vinegar.

In the latter part of the Edo period, smaller tokkuri, between 1 and 2 go (180 to 360 mL), were popular, and people would pour sake directly from them into their cups. Sizes continued decreasing throughout the Meiji period. The reasons both tokkuri and sakazuki cups got smaller is believed to be because there were fewer opportunities to share the same large cup at banquets, pubs (izakaya) became popular, and the custom of an evening drink became common.

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