Now that you’re versed on how to order sake, it’s time to get familiar with the other components of a true sake experience. Sake can either be served straight from the bottle or from a tokkuri – a vessel made from lacquered wood, glass, or porcelain. The sake is then poured into a choko or ochoko, a small pottery cup.
The Japanese characters for ochoko are 猪口, which literally translates to “wild boar’s mouth”. It is said that an ochoko resembles the animal when viewed from the side. Traditional sake drinking etiquette dictates that the host must pour for his/her guests and should accept reciprocal offers of sake. Today, it is more acceptable to pour for oneself when gatherings are less formal.
Most sake producers have their own special large ochoko, called janome choko, to help examine the quality of their sake. On the bottom of the inside of these cups, there are blue and white designs, which help facilitate tests of the sake’s color, clarity, and fragrance.
Janome choko image courtesy Sake Talk