Saké Brewery, Japan. Andy Atzert, 2010.

Sake, like wine, has a huge number of varieties and intricacies in its appreciation. In small but illustrious circles, groups of connoisseurs and boozehounds alike, gather to share the liquid, the bonhomie.

They discuss the fine points of the sake cup, theirs, their friend's, they choose their favorite cup from the collection or let the host do the choosing. It could be mood, season or simply whimsical fancy – but add the sake and the cup comes alive. With this emerging trend comes a new appreciation for the drinking culture it belongs to. Japan is the home of sake and also the home of crafted objects that encourage us to engage with the beautiful.

In Australia fads and fancy follow each other in an endless parade, dependent on naked novelty. Gladly there is resurgence in all things craft. There are hipster knitting circles and DIY magazines – aiming to reconnect with the values of craft. It seems values surrounding the C-word have skipped a generation and younger people are searching for meaningful things to grab onto. They might have been brought up on the computer but real wonderment comes with discovering ‘real’ things. In fact regardless of age, we should all recognise the value of handcrafted objects.

Luxury brands have stolen the aura of craftsmanship and not many can connect the craftsman to the end user. That Louis Vuitton handbag – it’s not actually unique – do you really want that?

Warm Saké, Jouko Karvonen, 2010.

It is a lifestyle choice but it’s not hard – be it lacquer, ceramic, glass, metal or wood, sake cups aren’t pieces for decoration, they are an opportunity to attune oneself to tradition. Feel the cups in your hand and try a different one each time. Rough-hewn ceramic may feel great for warm sake in winter but a glass cup offers the perfect partner to chilled sake on a summer evening. There are no rules to it – only emotional reactions.

Trevor Fleming combines a history in wine retail, high-end art and auctions with a love of all things Japanese – especially Sake. After completing the certified sake professional course in 2007, he was hooked - and has since presented more than 20 Sake tastings in Australia and the USA for both corporate and community organizations.


Coming up in July, Japanese Art specialist and sake connoisseur Trevor Fleming will lead a special event on Sake, sake cups and their many guises alongside matched food at Made in Japan, South Melbourne.


Shop MIJ Saké