This small ceramic sake cup, or guinomi, has a painted interior and a sculpted exterior. The interior features the face of Otafuku, the "homely woman," in black and gold against a white background. Otafuku, with her characteristic round cheeks, is a symbol of luck and good fortune, reinforced by the presence of the kanji character for "fuku" ("good fortune") in a gold circle above her face.
Otafuku, also known as Uzume or Okame, the "homely woman," is a figure from Japanese folklore. Otafuku is often portrayed as the female counterpart of Hyottoko in traditional Japanese kyogen theater (both are somewhat comical figures). She is considered to be the goddess of mirth and is frequently seen in Japanese art with her characteristic full cheeks and merry eyes.
The exterior of the cup is sculpted into the face of an oni (demon), with red-pink skin and gold eyes and fangs. The oni's chin and horns act as legs for the cup. The hole in the middle of the oni's forehead acts as whistle when air is sucked out (rather than blown in), as would happen when sipping.
Oni, a kind of yokai (supernatural creature) from Japanese folklore, are considered to be creatures similar to demons, ogres, and trolls. Oni are very often represented in visual art, literature, theater, and popular culture in Japan. Oni may take varying forms, but fairly consistently are large and grotesque creatures with claws and horns. They have human-like bodies but are often red or blue and may have extra eyes or fingers. They are usually shown wearing loincloths and carrying clubs (their weapon of choice). Oni are known for being exceptionally strong.