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Sake Bottle Covers and Decorations
This page attempts to record what is known about the origin and history of Sake Bottle Covers and Decorations. Please contact me if you know any of this information is incorrect or if you have any other information that should be added. Thank you.

These covers and decorations appear to be of several different kinds. The Cover is made by pleating a square of paper into a flower like form which then is tied in place around the neck of the container so that the corners of the square point downwards. The Decoration is also folded from a square of paper. It resembles a stylised butterfly, that is placed over the neck of the bottle so that two corners of the square, the points of the wings, point upwards and outwards.

David Lister has suggested that this second design, the Sake Bottle Decoration is the origin of the Ocho and Mecho Butterflies used in traditional Shinto wedding ceremonies. 'It is generally thought that the Mecho and Ocho Butterflies, which usually, but not always, to this day accompany sake flasks and bottles, originated as paper covers over the necks of sake flasks.' (From David Lister on Mecho and Ocho Wedding Designs) He does not adduce any evidence in support of this statement.


Sake Bottle Covers

The first evidence of this design that I know of is found in pictures in the 'Onna Chohoki' (Women's Treasury) which was first published in Japan in 1692. The design can be seen more clearly in the corresponding pictures from the 1847 edition.

1692 original

1847 edition


A folded example of what looks like a Sake Bottle Cover can be seen on page 19 of the Origata Tehon of Kikuchi Fujiwara no Takehide which dates to the third month of 1697.


Instructions for making the design appear in the 'Hoketsuki' (Wrapping and Tying), sometimes also called the 'Tsutsumi-no Ki', a treatise on the folding of formal wrappers / tsutsumi, butterflies and packages and the tying of formal knots in the tradition of the Ogasawara school of etiquette, by Sadatake Ise, which was first published in 1764.


The design is also found in Isao Honda's book 'Nihon no kokoro dento origami' (Japanese Heart traditional Origami) which was published in 1968.


The Sake Bottle Decorations

Information will be added here as it becomes available.