MILITARY SAKE CUPS:
WHAT TO COLLECT
Collectors of military sake cups all have their own interests. Some collect cups from a certain
regiment, some from a certain conflict, others like cups with soldier pictures on them. But most
collectors, I suspect, like cups that are aesthetically appealing, that display well.

Some basic advice:

pattern, it is easier to accept. Most cups will have a certain amount of wear to the base, which for
pattern, it is easier to accept. Most cups will have a certain amount of wear to the base, which for
most is acceptable.
most is acceptable.


Of course, advice on what to collect is somewhat foolish. People collect what is interesting to
them. And sake cups have so many different themes and categories that it is nearly impossible to
collect all the variants. I have been buying and selling cups for many years now--thousands of
different kinds of cups have passed through my hands--and I still find new patterns.

Cups that are rarer than others:

1.
Vehicle cups (especially tank cups)

2.
Hand-painted soldier cups (and stamped soldier cups to a lesser degree)

3.
Kempei Tai (secret police) cups

4.
Train engine cups

5. Named warship cups

6. Some kabuto (helmet) cups with the rarer bases

7.
Photo cups. There are some rare ones with the famous generals and admirals from the
Russo-Japan War and I have also found some individual soldier photo cups.

8. Air Corps cups with detailed planes.

9. Cups with any type of hand pistol on them. (Larger guns such as machine guns, cannons, and
anti-aircraft artillery are fairly common.) Almost impossible to find a small gun. I have only seen
one. Click
HERE to see it. It's near the bottom of the page.

10. Cups with military-use dogs (I've only seen a dog on one cup. Click
HERE to see it.)

11. Cups with Army motorcycles (I've never seen one.)

12. Cups with submarines (I've never seen one)

There are other cups within more common groups that are rare. For example, an
artillery cup from
Taiwan or a cup commemorating the Jinan Incident. One should certainly become familiar with the
writing on the cups (kanji) to identify these.

Whatever type you collect, you will certainly be surprised at finding new variations or new designs
within your field.
Shapes and Names
There are three basic sake cup shapes. Although there are some variations
in size, the shapes remain fairly constant. These days you will see sake cups
in a larger variety of shapes, but these three are the traditional ones and
most military cups you'll see are like these.
This is called a masu.
Square, usually
wood, never used
for daily drinking.
Ceremonial. This
particular cup is from
the modern
Self-Defense Forces;
I've never seen a
military cup before
WW2 with this shape.
This is called a choko
or ochoko). The
choko is used for
daily drinking. It
consists of a single
gulp and is refilled
often.
This is called a
sakazuki. Large and  
shallow, this is also
used more for
ceremonies (such as
weddings) or holidays
(New Year's Day).
Often in sets of three,
varying sizes.
The three shapes together for
comparison.