The drink of choice of impoverished but thirsty, or desperate, tipplers, One Cup Ozeki has been around since the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games. Rumour has it that the sake drink in a 200ml glass jar with a ring-pull top and a plastic cover was developed for the convenience of spectators at the Tokyo Olympics. Whether this is true or not is irrelevant: One Cup Ozeki is now as much a cultural icon as the Shinkansen (Bullet Train), which started running in the same year.
Since the day it first went on sale, One Cup Ozeki has been a success. It is sold in supermarkets, convenience stores and in vending machines, hot in winter and chilled in summer. Because it can be easily carried, it is popular for outdoor occasions like picnics, festivals, or cherry blossom viewing. But it is the people who spend most of their time outdoors, the homeless or day labourers, who have really made this drink their own. In areas such as Sanya in east Tokyo, thousands of One Cups are imbibed every single day, and most of these are purchased from vending machines.
In Sanya there is a very distinct purchasing pattern that could be called the “Sanya Sake Shuffle,” and this is described in more detail in the book Blinded by the Night.