When size is not an issue
Whether you drink sake or not, a good sake cup makes your heart sing. These precious creatures embody all of the characteristics of good pottery. Some are fierce and cunning, some are sweet and cute, others funky and bold. The artists have packed all of their message into these small vessels. There is a cup for every mood: perhaps you enjoy a contemplative cup decorated with geometric or mosaic pattern. Or you are feeling fun and wild, and would prefer to drink from a cup painted with brightly colored animals or held by a sumo wrestler! Each one is as unique as the hand that made it. Touch it, hold it, play with it – you feel it with your lips, drink from it, and you have a slice of that artist inside of you!
Why do we love small things? Way back in the tenth century Japanese author, poet and court lady Sei Shōnagon (清少納言, 966-1025) discussed the Japanese obsession with diminutive objects. She is most famous for The Pillow Book, a collection of observations and musings made during her time as a court lady to Empress Consort Teishi. She compares the smallness of things to the brevity of a haiku poem, which compactly describes the world in 17 words. In the Japanese New Year tradition, the host or hostess must select the perfect combination of things to fit inside of the New Year box to gift to their guests. These less than eight inches containers must contain the very best for the coming year. In essay No. 151, entitled “うつくしきもの (The cute things),” Sei Shōnagon writes: “なにもなにも、小さきものはみなうつくし (All the small things are beautiful/cute)."
This is even more true when we consider the sake cup, as it is a main feature of many important occasions such as weddings, tea ceremonies, parties, and funerals. Drinking sake marks an event, one where vows are exchanged, friends are made, sanctity is found, and memories are collected. On such occasions, small is better and less is more. In these ceremonies of life, the sake cup becomes a kind of sacred object. This also explains why sake cups are always more expensive than Yunomi/drinking cups – they serve a much more special purpose!
Pick your favorite cup and let us live the slow life. Cheers!