A Choko is a small ceramic cup used for drinking sake or as a dipping sauce container for soba noodles.
There are theories as to where the name “choko” came from. One of them says that the word was derived from “choku”, a small dish used in a ceremonial table setting during the Edo period. Another legend says that choko, which is written “boar’s mouth” in Chinese characters, was named after a boar’s snout, which is wide on top and narrow on the bottom.
When warming up sake, people are advised to consider what the temperature of it will be after it is poured into the choko. For example, when sake is heated up in a Tokkuri sake flask to 40°C, the sake, after being poured into the choko will be around 35°C, or approximately body temperature. It is then called “hitohada-kan (body warm sake)”. There are other elegant names to describe sake temperatures such as hinata-kan (sun warm sake), ryou-bie (cool sake) and hana-bie (flower cool sake).
Soba-choko, which is mainly used as a dipping sauce container for soba noodles, has many different patterns such as the ishigaki (stone wall) pattern and the karakusa (arabesque) pattern. Soba-choko is also used for a variety of other purposes.