PR Times reports that after a month testing the market, low-end bar Chidoriashi opened in Shinjuku on 13 December 2018, complete with Japan’s biggest selection of one-cup sake.
Stocked an impressive 200 types of one-cup sake, it's run by management and design company Food Architect Lab who also operate other bars and restaurants, including Kakiireji (oysters), Suehirogari (yakitori) and Wine Sakaba (wine bar).
The new bar claims to be the subject of conversation among not only ochoko-joshi [おちょこ女子, women who are light drinkers?] but also suijo [yōjo? 酔女, women who drink heavily?] for their range of 200 one-cup sake. They also claim that the idea of one-cup sake being the stuff your granddad enjoys is a thing of the past, and that the 180 ml containers might be about to break through to the mainstream and start trending. They’re often carefully and colourfully designed, so you can choose by the label, or you could, you know, go by taste. You can have whatever you feel like on the day, making this the new “holy ground” for meetings of sake-joshi [SAKE女子, presumably so you know it’s ladies who drink nihonshu and not just anything.] [Even for a Japanese press release, this is pushing it a bit.]
It's further suggested as a meeting place for lady and gent drinkers who wouldn’t mind their love story beginning with “we met over a one-cup”. Whoever wrote the press release then compounds this idea with a hideous pun [it’s been a while], turning cup-sake (カップ酒) into “couple sake” (カップル酒).
The wild claims don’t stop there, the down-and-dirty bar look is supposed to be popular on Instagram, particularly the showcases full of cute glass containers. Try posing in front of them with a cup sake in each hand and hashtag it #カップ酒.
Food Architect Lab has some full time staff in their 60s as part of an initiative to create new jobs. They also learned from such seniors that production of cup sake has decreased. The writer notes they’ve seen less of them in convenience stores. Cup sake is also supposed to be harder to sell, which combined with its short shelf life makes it a difficult product to stock.
So they looked for a better way to handle the less-than-half-pint-size quantities and decided that if they were going to stock them they were going overboard and creating the largest selection in the country.
I'm a big fan of the 180 ml one-cup or mini bottle format, as they make it easy to try sake (or try a new one) with minimal risk. Not sure about the romance angle, but sounds like a fun place for next time I'm in Tokyo.