If you have ever been to a small Izakaya (Sake bar in Japan) and ordered a glass of Sake, you might have seen a waiter giving you a Sake glass inside a square wooden box and pouring Sake until the Sake overflows and spills into the wooden box. That box is called Masu (枡). You might have been thrilled with the performance, but how do we actually drink Sake out of it?
So What is Masu?
Masu (枡) is is a square Sake box. The typical one is made of wood, generally cedar or Hinoki. But in modern days, It is also made of lacquer or even plastic. It is now used on celebratory occasions such as weddings, New Year’s Day, etc.
How Much Does It Contain?
Formally, it acted as a Sake measuring cup at a Sake shop. It contains 180ml or 1 / 10 of a 1800ml Sake bottle. There is a unit special for Sake, Gou (合) and Shou (升). 1 Gou is equivalent to one cup of it(i.e. 180ml). 10 Gou (i.e. 1800ml) is equivalent to 1 Shou. Therefore:
1 cup of Masu = 1 Gou = 180ml
10 Gou’s = 1 Shou = a 1800ml Sake bottle
How is Sake Served in Masu?
On celebratory occasions, Sake is just poured into Masu.
In some Japanese restaurants or Izakaya (Sake bars), they serve a Sake glass inside it and pour Sake until it overflows and spills into i, which will generally be half filled.
What Is the Spilling Performance for?
Some restaurants and bars do the spilling performance to show their generosity and also to entertain customers. The Sake served in this way is called Mokkiri Zake (もっきり酒).
How Do I Drink It?
There is no specified rule regarding how to drink Sake out of a Masu with a glass inside.
However, we will show you some chic drink ways performed by many Japanese Sake drinkers.
1. Have the first sip out of the glass, with the glass and it sitting on the table.
2. Drink out of the glass while holding up the glass with a right hand, and it with a left hand. The Masu should be just under the glass so that any drippings from the bottom of the glass go into it.
3. When the glass is emptied, pour the remaining Sake from it into the glass. Place the glass back inside the Masu, just like a coaster.
4. Alternatively, you can, of course, drink the remaining Sake out of Masu once the glass is emptied. How to drink out of Masu will be explained below.
How to Drink Out of Masu?
There is a rule regarding how to drink out of it, especially on celebratory occasions. Remember you are not bound by any rules when drinking casually at Japanese restaurants or bars, but drinking out of it in a proper way makes you look a cool Sake connoisseur.