Tokkuri (sake bottle) (徳利)

Tokkuri or Tokuri is a thin-necked bottle rounded at the bottom. It is now mainly used for pouring sake.


Each comes in a variety of material such as ceramic, metal or glass with the capacity ranging from one go (180 milliliters) to one sho (1.8 liters). The current best-selling item is the one or two go-sized tokkuri used for heating sake.

Before glass bottles or plastic liquid containers were introduced, tokkuri had been widely used to store liquids such as soy sauce or oil (Shoyu dokkuri, Abura tokkuri). The ceramic tokkuri is even now preferable because it does not spoil the flavor of sake.

The 'glug-glug' sound created when sake is poured is appreciated; for that purpose, the mouth of the tokkuri should not be too wide, but be wide enough for the contents to come out smoothly. In view of balancing these two, the little finger-sized mouth of tokkuri is the best choice.

One tokkuri is counted as 'ippon' in Japanese; there are other counters for counting tokkuri: 'Hitosage or Iccho' for hanging it from one's shoulder ('Isshi' is rarely used).

Generally, tokkuri is sometimes called choshi (ochoshi); choshi is originally a vessel with a long handle used in a Shinto-style wedding ceremony.

Word origin

The name of 'tokkuri' was probably derived from an onomatopoeia that describes the sound of "tokuri tokuri (glug-glug)" created when sake is poured. There was a theory that 'tokku uru' in Korean meaning 'rather hard ceramics' was the name origin; however, the sound of the Korean word corresponding to 'tokkuri' was uncertain, so this theory could not gain popular support.

Culture and custom
Tokkuri often appears in Rakugo (traditional Japanese comic storytelling); some of the programs have names like 'tokkuri' such as "Bizen dokkuri" or "Omiki dokkuri." In this way, tokkuri was a traditional liquid bottle closely related to everyday life.

Before glass or plastic containers were widely used, sake shop owners sold sake by giving out the tokkuri first, on which the name of the shop and a trademark were written, to their customers and poured sake into it. When the customers finished drinking sake in tokkuri completely, they came to the shop again bringing the empty tokkuri, and paid cash in exchange for pouring sake. This is called "Kayoi tokkuri" (commuter tokkuri). This sales method does not produce any waste, so it is ecological.

A Japanese common flying squid dried and formed into the shape of tokkuri is called 'Ika tokkuri;' it is a sake bottle as well as eaten as a side dish.

[Original Japanese]