These are small vessels that are used when drinking sake.
They can be made of wood, glass, pottery, porcelain, gold, or silver; they can be decorated with lacquer or glazes; there are beautiful ones, refined ones, and cute ones, but they all possess an attraction that makes us want to collect them.
From olden times sake cups have been more than mere drinking vessels and play an important role in various ceremonies.
The sake that is poured into them is itself brewed as a drink to be offered to the gods, so the act of drinking is a holy ceremony and the cup that is used becomes a holy utensil.
In the ceremonies the sake is poured into the cup then passed around from the seat of honor to the lower seats, with everybody taking a sip.
By sharing sake from the same cup in this way, old bonds are renewed and new ones forged.
Today couples exchange cups of sake during the wedding ceremony, and people also share cups during festivals.
In family life, people share spiced sake on New Year's Day.
It is poured for the youngest family member first, then passed around to the eldest, each person toasting the others with the words, Happy new year.