World War II Japanese Ceramic Military Helmet Sake Cup

In the Japanese military, toasts with sake in special cups were part of military tradition: the ritual consumption of ceremonial sake before the final mission by a Japanese aviator was common.

Sake cups (Guinomi) were commissioned by every section of the Japan’s military force, with an innumerable variation of colors and designs. Each cup is typically a mini time capsule with the owner’s name and regiment inscribed, enabling the collector to search for the background and history of the soldier who once drank a victory toast. Some are lavishly illustrated with wartime photos, insignias and images of nature from the prefecture of the soldier. Dates range from 1894 through the early 1940s. For more information on this subject read, Japanese Military Sake’ Cups by Richard Fuller, 2001.

This cup is in the shape of a helmet, with a star and two dots in the form of rivets on the side. The cup has a brown glaze with a beautiful, chased silver grape vine motif on the interior. This particular piece was made for a member of the army air corps and has an aircraft on the base and is marked Kutani ware, from the west coast of Japan. The pilot’s name and identification are impressed on the side and just under the lip. Condition is excellent, no chips cracks or repairs. Approximate age: 1930s. Dimensions: 2 ¼”dia x 1-0”h.

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