Sep 26, 2022 | Samuel Albert

Ochoko and Guinomi Sake Cups - What Is The Difference?

Recently, Japanese sake has grown famous and earned raving fans worldwide. Not just the sake but also the sake cups that serve it have become popular and are sold worldwide, either as a cute collection (aw, just a look at them can make your heart skip a beat!!) or for the very purpose of savoring the drink in an authentic manner.

Image by Kohji Asakawa from Pixabay

While an Ochoko sake cup looks smaller, a Guinomi sake cup is just a bigger version. The only difference between these two is the size and the volume each cup can hold. The amount of sake that an Ochonko sake cup can contain is just a mouthful or 20 mL. But the capacity of a Guinomi sake cup is approximately the volume worth a teacup or 200 mL.

Sure, there are various cup options available to drink sake from, but no one can deny that the adorable ones are an Ochonko cup and a Guinomi cup. They look good together as if they are from the same family, the only difference being their sizes.

  1. What is the purpose of a sake cup?

Photo by Chris Lawton on Unsplash 

The sake cup has its roots originating in Japan, and it serves as more than just a cup serving rice liquor. It was traditionally used to measure dry and wet cooking ingredients and sake, especially the masu (wooden) cup.

It is also used as sake drinkware and is still part of their feasts, ceremonies, and social gatherings. These cups lie deeply embedded in the heart and culture of Japan and its people.

Be it a Sakazuki or a masu cup, they are designed to pour out a particular type of sake that enhances the flavor, aroma, and taste. Also, pouring the liquor at the perfect temperature is pivotal in a fulfilling sake drinking experience.

  1. Why are sake cups so small?

Image by R. 井上 from Pixabay 

The taste of sake changes once the temperature of the drink alters. So, sake is poured into tiny cups and should be consumed immediately - to make every mouthful a pleasant experience. And the little cups are meant to be refilled continuously. Thus, the temperature of the liquor remains unaltered, and the drink is uniformly flavored.

Also, it is traditional to continually replenish the empty cup with the drink, reflecting the hospitality of the host and the honoring of guests in Japanese households. This gesture is considered polite in Japanese culture and leads to bonding between people, hence the small cups.   

  1. What is a Guinomi cup?

A Guinomi cup is slightly bigger than an Ochonko cup, whose volume ranges from approximately 40 mL to 200 mL. Therefore, when repeatedly refilling the little sake cup becomes a bother, use a Guinomi cup instead.

The story of the Guinomi cup dates back to times in Japan when people had tea ceremonies. The Guinomi cups were used as serving cups for eatables served alongside tea. Once the eatables got over, the cups were used for serving sake. Thus, the Guinomi cup evolved from a serving cup to the sake drinking cup we have today. 

  1. What is the difference between an Ochoko and a Guinomi Sake Cup?

Image by takedahrs from Pixabay 

The design of the Ochoko cup and Guinomi cup are identical. The only difference is the amount of liquor each can hold.

An Ochoko cup is more inclined towards social gatherings. Therefore, when drinking sake at home alone, it is better to go for a Guinomi cup that doesn't require frequent refills.

  1. What are some alternatives ideas for party sake cups?

If you plan to serve sake at your party and don't have as many sake cups to help around, here's what you can do.

  • Using your wine glasses is the first best choice.
  • Feel free to use your plain glasses.
  • But if you want to keep it authentic (as sake cups largely influence the taste and flavor of the drink), you can opt for buying some new sake cups from online stores.
  •  If you don't mind adding a few more sets and have been eyeing some unique collections for some time, now is the time to justify your shopping cravings and go on that shopping spree.
  • From cheap wooden disposable cups to bamboo disposables, you have a lot of choices to pick your sake cup from for one-time party use.
  • If you don't have any of the above, use ceramic or porcelain teacups, which are cool replacements for the traditional sake cup.

Photo by RODNAE Productions

  1. How Do Cups Affect the Taste of Sake?

Thickness: If you want to savor the original taste of sake, opt for your sake to be served in a thin glass that delivers the natural kick of the drink.

But if you would like to mellow down the taste a little bit, choose a cup that is a bit thicker, like the one made with ceramic or porcelain.

Shape: The shape of the cup's body and mouth dramatically affects the flavor and aroma of the sake to a large extent.

Size: In addition to thickness and shape, the size of the cup is directly related to the sake's temperature. This, in turn, greatly influences the taste of the drink.

  1. How Does an Ochoko cup and a Guinomi Cup Affect the Taste of Sake?

A "choko" in Japanese means a small handless cup in which sake is poured. The volume of the sake drink in an O-choko cup is equivalent to that of a shot glass consumed in one gulp. Since it can be consumed in one go, it keeps the integrity of the drink intact, which helps it to be finished in its best state.

" Guinomi " means a 'large sake cup' or 'gulping down a drink.' The amount of sake a Guinomi cup can hold is approximately a teacup.

When hot or cold sake is served in a Guinomi cup, the taste is likely to be altered with temperature variation in the drink, i.e., over time. Therefore, to savor the sake in its best form, one should drink up the sake before the temperature change sets in. 

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