The square cup "Masu", made of Japanese cypress is getting attention overseas as a traditional Japanese wooden cups. And those who are fans of Japanese cuisine and Japanese sake are already familiar with it. Other than its use in Japanese cuisine, masu is also used as an accessory box or as decoration on tables to stylishly present seasoning, spices, or as a gift case for sweets.
The origins of the masu go to back centuries...
The existence of masu cups in the distant past of 1300 years before today in the Nara period has been confirmed.
In Edo Period (1603 - 1868), the masu were used by merchants to measure for sale such important commodities as rice and other grains as well as soy sauce, vinegar and sake.
In Japan, people use the terms ichi-go (一合, one go) or i-ssho (一升, equals to ten “go”) to measure rice or sake, and a level masu cup of rice is ichi-go, making for one to two servings of rice when cooked.
The metric system, which has been gradually taking over from traditional measurement methods, became the standard in Japan, and masu cups stopped being used for a measurement tool.
However, masu cups achieved a “revival” later on as free gifts to accompany Japanese sake and as commemorative gifts at celebrations, where they were appreciated for their beautiful grain and great aroma.
Today, masu are often used for serving sake at sake barrel ceremonies "kagami biraki"
and at traditional Japanese pubs "izakaya" that appeal to the customer's sense of nostalgia
Masu vary in size but the two most common sizes used for enjoying sake are
the 144 ml "hasshaku" masu and the 180 ml "ich-go" masu.
- Durable -
Japanese Cypress, better known as Hinoki, is a rare type of wood which is said to take 300 years to grow 30 centimeters in radius. It has a fine grain of beautiful colors and is easy to process and highly durable. Often used in manufacturing as lumber for its sturdiness it has many more advantages.
- relaxing effect by fresh fragrance -
The Hinoki has such a characteristic fragrance that it will make you feel highly relaxed as if walking peacefully in the forest.
The great aroma of Hinoki enhances the flavor of sake, to the point where once you try the combination, you might not be able to do without it ever again.
- antiseptic, antibacterial effect-
Hinoki has a great resistance to water and even has an antiseptic effects.
Not only is it used as architectural material in sacred shrines and temples, but it can also be found in the forms of cutting boards and counters at sushi restaurants for its antibacterial effect.
* Environmentally Friendly
No trees are cut specifically for the purpose of making a Masu cup. Masu cups are made by effectively recycling wood that did not meet building material standards because of its shape or size.
When making masu cups, the wood materials are first dried in order to prevent shrinking and the forming of gaps,
then cut into the shapes of side and bottom pieces to be assembled. The edges of each piece are cut into such shapes
that they can be alternately put together, making the final look of the product beautiful.
The assembled masu cup then gets decorated with symbols and paint to reach its completed state.