Kazuya Koike crafts simple sake cups from Japanese cedar

Japanese designer Kazuya Koike has used a fragrant Japanese wood to carve a set of sake cups that fit onto carafes as caps.

Koike created the small vessels from Yoshino cedar – a wood native to Japan – and paired them with containers made from clay or glass.

Sake cup by Kazuya Koike

"From the prehistoric age, people in Japan have incorporated cedar into their life, not only as utensil tool," said Koike. "It had become widely used for tableware, furniture, as a building material and for Buddhist altar fittings."

The designer also explained that the wood is commonly used to make pails or barrels for sake – the traditional Japanese alcoholic beverage made from fermented rice. However, the timber has recently fallen out of use due to the import of materials from the west, Koike added.

Sake cup by Kazuya Koike

The trees are planted in high densities so their annual ring widths are smaller and the material is denser, helping to make it leakproof.

Koike carved the simple sake cups from the wood so it could be appreciated "by the five senses".

Sake cup by Kazuya Koike

"Once you pour sake into this sake cup, you'll smell the refined fragrance of Yoshino cedar in the air, and it brings back a slight sense of good old Japanese scenery," said Koike.

The cups slot onto the tops of the tapered cylindrical carafes used for serving the drink.

Sake cup by Kazuya Koike

The ceramic and earthenware vessels are designed to contain hot sake – as the materials help to insulate the liquid – while a glass container is intended for cold sake.