Sake & Masu: 2 Possible Meanings in Japanese

When Japanese people hear Sake (さけ) and Masu (ます), many probably picture two different pairs of things.

Sake (酒) & Masu (升)

Sake (酒) & Masu (升)

One is 酒 (Sake) and 升 (Masu).

As you know, the former is the Japanese generic word for alcoholic drinks and usually refers to rice wine called Sake.

On the other hand, 升 is a small wooden container shaped like a square box, traditionally used in Japan to drink Sake rice wine.

Sake (鮭) & Masu (鱒)

Sake (鮭) & Masu (鱒)

酒 and 升 are easily recognizable by the eye, but the other Sake and Masu, 鮭 and 鱒, are not.

Meaning & Definition

Long story short, 鮭 (Sake) and 鱒 (Masu) are the Japanese words for salmon and trout in English, and 鮭 is from the sea.

鱒 is generally small-size compared to 鮭, caught in freshwater, but biologically, there is no clear distinction between the two fishes.

Pronunciation & Reading

鱒 (Masu) and 升 (Masu) have the same pronunciation, but 酒 (Sake) and 鮭 (Sake) don’t and differ in intonation (pronounced this way (/).

Also, the reading of 酒 is usually さけ/Sake on its own, whereas 鮭 has another reading しゃけ/Shake.

Incidentally, there is no difference in meaning/definition between 鮭 and しゃけ, which refer to the same thing, salmon.

(Reference Pages: Osakana Suisankai, Macaroni)


Hi, I'm Tomo, a Japanese blogger living in Niigata Prefecture, Japan. For the purpose of enriching your life, I would like to introduce things about Japan on this blog, especially unique Japanese products, cooking recipes, cultures, and facts and trivia.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.