Tradition, high tech merge in luminous sake cup

January 14, 2014


OGAKI, Gifu Prefecture--As if drinking sake from a traditional “masu” square wooden cup wasn’t enough to get lit, a novelty one that emits colored lights when drunk from will soon hit the market.

A group of companies plan to begin selling the Hikari Masu (light cup) to bars, Japanese-style pubs and wedding halls around April at 5,000 yen to 10,000 yen ($48 to $97) apiece.

“The masu, which has a history spanning more than 1,000 years, has merged with today’s cutting-edge technologies,” said Hiroyuki Ohashi, president of masu maker Ohashi Ryoki Co. “We hope the product will also capture the attention of people outside of Japan.”

The company developed the Hikari Masu prototype with partners in the printing, information technology and software development sectors, under a prefectural government project to develop new products that started in September.

Ohashi Ryoki is based in Ogaki, which accounts for 80 percent of masu production in Japan.

The masu is typically made of “hinoki” Japanese cypress. Thin boards of hinoki wood are translucent.

Capable of holding 180 milliliters of rice wine, the Hikari Masu is equipped with four light-emitting diode devices, tilt sensors and other equipment.

When the cup is held at an angle, it emits a dim light in red, blue and white for about 10 seconds in each color through a 1-millimeter-thick hinoki board at the bottom.

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