“Bottled Sake, Now for Sale”
Shop Sign

“Now Selling Bottled Sake” Shop Sign

  • Periods: Circa 1910s to early 1920s
  • Material: Zelkova (keyaki)
  • Dimensions: Height: 145 cm, Width: 84.5 cm, Thickness: 6.3 cm

This single panel of zelkova (keyaki) wood shows the characters for “Saiyuto Seishu” (Premium Grade Sake) in gold at the top, with two stylish “Gekkeikan” brand bottles in colorful, innovative designs, and then says “Certified preservative-free by the Osaka Hygiene Laboratory.” The sign is believed to date from the Taisho period (1910s-1920s), and was designed to promote the quality of sake bottled at the brewery over barreled sake sold by volume by the retailer. This was in the Kyoto retail outlet (our sales office responsible for Kyoto), and is currently hanging in the entrance hall at the Gekkeikan Okura Sake Museum.

The bottle on the left is known as a “Mechanical bottle,” with what is called a “lightning closure .” The top of the cap has a seal over it that reads “Sealed by Okura Bottling Division,” and includes a sticker certifying it as inspected by the Osaka Hygiene Laboratory, showing that it is preservative-free sake. The design of this label has been passed down through the decades, still being used for our regular-class products (15% to 15.9% alcohol), which was classified as “first class sake” when sake was graded, and is now termed “Josen.”

The right shows one of our small sake bottles with the cap able to be used as the cup , allowing it to be drunk anywhere, which we came up with in 1910 and registered as a utility model. When the cap was removed it could be inverted and used as the cup. This idea was adopted by the Tetsudoin railway authority (government-owned railway) for selling sake at stations, so as the railway network expanded, our name spread to all corners of Japan.

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