Japan Sake and Shochu Makers Association | JSS

Basic Basic Sake Etiquettes

Japan is a country that highly values hospitality and has a rich drinking culture. While Japan has a dining etiquette that is unique to the culture, there are no strict rules when drinking or serving sake, especially in a casual situation. However, first-time sake drinkers might worry about doing something wrong. So, here are some easy and basic sake etiquette guidelines to follow when enjoying sake in a group.

Serve Others

Sake is a drink that acts as a vehicle of communication between groups in Japan. When drinking sake in a group, keep an eye on how much is left in others' cups. If their drink is nearly empty, make sure to ask or signal if they would like to be topped up, then pour. Paying attention to others' needs and serving them shows consideration and gratitude for their company.

How to Hold a Sake Cup and Vessel


When using a sake cup, hold the cup between the thumb, forefinger, and middle finger. When being served, place your other hand beneath the cup for support.


When serving sake, use both hands. Hold the main neck of the vessel with your dominant hand, and place your other hand on the bottom to keep the vessel steady.

Making a Toast

When making a toast in Japan, the equivalent of "cheers" is "kampai". While the literal translation of "kampai" is "dry the cup", people aren’t expected to finish their drink in one gulp. There is no rule as to how much a person has to drink during a toast and it is perfectly fine to sip on a drink at one's own pace.

Drink Water in Between

Sake has a relatively high alcohol content, on average around 15%. Therefore, it is advised to drink water in between servings. This helps to prevent excessive drinking and hangovers from sake.

Basic Guide


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