|Cups and bottles could be bought loose, but most likely they were always
given some sort of box. For the cheaper items bought singly, a very thin
cardboard box was used. The cardboard is really thin; perhaps calling it
thick paper would be more accurate. One can still find these flimsy objects,
and the ones in the best condition are the dead stock that have remained
There is a wide variety of different kinds of boxes. Click on the links to the
right to see more examples.
|A single-cup box for a 5.5 cm cup. Similar
|Since cup sizes varied, box sizes did, too. Here are a couple of boxes for larger cups.
I'm sure there were a variety of patterns. Here are two: a wood-veneer type and a
military theme. Both made of cardboard.
|Oftentimes two matching cups were bought and they usually came in a box as well. This box
was a bit sturdier than the single cup boxes. Sometimes a thin cardboard partition was
placed between the cups, preventing them from touching. This was usually loose in the box
and is often lost. There is no such piece in the accompanying photo.
|Two-cup sake cup box
|Another two-cup box, but this one has gold
gilt characters that match the characters
on the cups. The previous example was a
generic box used for any military sake cups.
Made of cardboard, this also has fittings for
the cup bases and a silk-type cloth inlaid in
|Cups were sold singly, in pairs, in sets of three, and in sets of five. I have never seen more than
five in one set with the exception of the lacquered wood stacking cups--and I have never seen
these with a military theme.
|5-cup boxes. The one on the left is thin cardboard with cardboard dividers; the one on the right is
wood with wood dividers. Cups in these sets usually had the same patterns. One exception (not
shown) is the Virtues of a Japanese Soldier set, which had a different virtue written on each cup.
|Lacquered wood sake cups most
often came in paulonia wood boxes
with ties. Also inside were
protective cotton and a silk or
cotton cloth. Lacquered wood cups
were more expensive than the
porcelain types so the boxes were
nicer, too. And on the lids of these
boxes the maker's stamp or label
was often affixed. Some of these
shops are still in operation!
|Three-cup set of
different size cups
|Often on the sides or backs were the
shops' stamps, indicating the names
addresses pof the stores where these cups
were sold (not necessarily made).