There are many kinds of drinking cups around the world. While the West offers various types of glassware, and Asia has a preference for ceramic cups, in Japan a tin cup style known as suzu-ki (tinware) can also be found in production.
Used since prehistoric times, tin was introduced to Japan by Kenzuishi, a Japanese envoy to Sui Dynasty China, and Kentoshi, a Japanese envoy to Tang Dynasty China, between the seventh and ninth centuries. Thereafter, tin began to be produced in Japan as well. But at the time, it was a material valued like gold and silver are today, so it was only used in limited settings, including the imperial court.
In the Edo Period (1603-1868), tinware became popular among the general public in the form of drinking cups and Japanese tea sets. By the middle of the period, the manufacture and sale of tinware began to center on parts of Osaka, with strong distribution channels in areas such as Shinsaibashi and Tenjinbashi. This heralded the beginning of Osaka Naniwa tinware.
While Naniwa tinware quickly evolved into a full-fledged industry, the start of World War 2 led many craftsmen to be drafted, and material procurement became difficult, plunging the technique into crisis. Following the war, craftsmen from around Osaka gathered to maintain the tradition of Osaka Naniwa tinware, and the industry was reborn. It was recognized by the Japanese government as a traditional craft in 1983.
Tinware is used for a wide variety of products due to its combination of practicality and aesthetic appeal. It is characterized by strong ion properties that have purifying effects on liquids, particularly removing zatsumi (unfavorable taste) from saké to make it smooth and delicious. Tin is also reputed for moisture protection, and is said to help maintain the freshness of tea leaves, making it suited for drinking cups, pots and teacups. Also, given its beautiful, clean color, it’s used for various products including cassolettes, cinnabar seal ink cases, Buddhist or Shinto religious instruments, and decorations.
Osaka Naniwa tinware boasts a tin percentage of more than 97 percent, and this high degree of purity truly brings out the benefits of tin.
Why not savor some delicious saké with a cup made from Osaka Naniwa tinware?
Osaka Castle Museum Shop
1-1 Osaka-Jo Chuo-ku Osaka City
JR Shin-Osaka Station
5-16-1 West Nakajima Yodogawa-ku Osaka City