Japan Sake and Shochu Makers Association | JSS


The Basic Guide Shochu Cups and Vessels

Shochu Cups and Vessels

Many shochu making regions have unique cups and vessels to serve shochu with. Although most people enjoy shochu in simple glasses today, these traditional vessels add extra joy to drinking this authentic spirit.


/ Region: Okinawa /

Legend states that an awamori-loving Buddhist monk created “karakara” in the image of a round rice cake. His ultimate goal was to make a jar that is hard to knock down, especially after drinking. There are two popular theories behind the vessel's name. Some believe the name came from the phrase asking to borrow it, “kase kase (let me borrow it).” Others think it comes from the sound that the jar makes when empty and shaken. Later, similar vessels spread across southern Kyushu. However, kara kara cannot be heated on an open flame like its descendants.


/ Region: Kagoshima /

Kuro-joka is a traditional shochu vessel originating in Kagoshima. It boasts a beautiful jet-black glaze and distinct shape. Slowly heating shochu over an open flame inside the kuro-joka imbues the drink with a pleasant aroma and smooth taste.

Gara and Choku

/ Region: Hitoyoshi Kuma /

In Hitoyoshi Kuma, the traditional serving method for shochu involved a porcelain pot, “gara,” and cups, “choku.” Shochu in this region was much stronger than it is today with an alcohol content of 35-40%. Historically, shochu was heated in gara over an open flame and served warm in a small choku cup.

Hato Tokkuri

/ Region: Miyazaki /

In Miyazaki, people traditionally used a unique, bird-shaped ceramic shochu and sake vessel. This vessel, known as Hato Tokkuri, literally “dove-jar,” held shochu or sake for heating over an open fire. Another warming method involved sticking the Hato Tokkuri into the ashes and embers leftover in a fireplace.

Ryukyu Glass

/ Region: Okinawa /

Ryukyu glass originated from the glass bottles left by American soldiers around Okinawa. People repurposed the discarded glass to make cups and other serving vessels. Ryukyu glass is usually relatively thick and colorful. It is often used to serve awamori either mixed with water or soda or on the rocks.

Satsuma Kiriko

/ Region: Kagoshima /

Satsuma kiriko is a type of glass created during the 1800s in Kagoshima. Craftsmen carved intricate designs into the colored outer layer, creating designs with stunning color gradients with the inner clear layer. After its creation, satsuma kiriko was only in production for around 30 years. However, local craftsmen revived the practice in 1985.


Today, most people serve shochu in a simple glass. Popular serving styles include shochu straight up, on the rocks, or mixed with water or soda.


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