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Western-style Bottled Sake
Innovative SakeProduct by an Eminent Designer

Western-style Bottled Sake Innovative SakeProduct by a Hired Designer

  • Period: 1915
  • Material: Glass bottle
  • Dimensions: Height: 30cm, Diameter of base: 8cm, Volume: 720 mL
  • Western-style Bottled Sake Innovative SakeProduct by a Hired Designer
  • Western-style Bottled Sake Innovative SakeProduct by a Hired Designer
  • Western-style Bottled Sake Innovative SakeProduct by a Hired Designer

This is a Gekkeikan dark brown colored bottled sake (4 go [720 mL]) that was exhibited at the 1915 Panama–Pacific International Exposition, held in San Francisco. The label is done in a Western style, with our trademark “月桂冠” (Gekkeikan) characters and a crown floating inside a circle formed from a laurel wreath (“gekkeikan”). It also states in English that this is “Japanese refined sake, brewed by T. Okura, Fushimi, Kyoto .”

At this time, Gekkeikan had hired Sozan Sawada (1881-1963) as a designer. Sozan , who was a ceramicist and designer, went to the United States to study in 1904 while still a student in the Design Department of Tokyo Fine Arts School. In the States, he furthered his research on craft design, returning to Japan in 1908 and opening the Sawada Design Office (Sawadazuansho: later known as “Sowaen”).

In addition to this sake bottle for the expo, the 11th head, Tsunekichi Okura, hired Sozan to design the small sake bottle with drinking cup that were sold from 1911 at train stations. From the late Meiji period (circa 1910) to the start of the Showa period (late 1920s) , Sozan also worked on a number of other designs for Gekkeikan, including shirushigomo (sake barrel covers), fans, and the signboards that were hung around Osaka Station and other places.

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