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Japanese Tableware


From Japanese bowls in all shapes and sizes (noodle bowls, miso soup bowls, rice bowls, and more) to flat soy sauce dishes, tiny ceramic chopstick rests to rustic handle-less teacups, there is no doubt that the world of Japanese tableware is a rich and varied one. A typical Japanese table setting involves a series of bowls in plates in different, mismatching sizes and patterns, all carrying their own separate portion of the meal and looking like an abstract, yet balanced and aesthetically pleasing conglomeration of culinary delight.

It has been believed for centuries in Japanese culture that tableware is just as important as the meal itself. Having the appropriate Japanese miso bowls, soy sauce dishes, teacups and other tableware for your Japanese meal is thought to be absolutely essential, because it is impossible to enjoy your meal to its fullest unless you are able to appreciate it for what it is.

Read on to discover more about the history, artistry, and variety of Japanese tableware. If you are wondering where to buy Japanese tableware in all its forms, take a look at japancentre.com's Bento & Kitchen section for a great range of Japanese or Japan-inspired wares.

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History/Background

The art of designing and arranging Japanese tableware dates back to the 16th Century. Unlike the perfectly matching settings we tend to see in the UK, Japanese table settings comprise of plates and bowls arranged in a balanced yet asymmetric way, with no two pieces matching each other. It has been said that Japanese table settings are like abstract paintings.

The fundamental principle behind Japanese tableware is that each element of a meal should be held in a vessel that ‘goes’ with the food or enhances its beauty. Once all of the tableware has been decided on, it needs to be arranged on a dining table. There are countless variations on how a Japanese table is set, depending on what dishes are being served. Here are some basic guidelines:

  • A tray may be placed at each setting, with all of the tableware placed within it. The tray acts as a ‘frame’ for the setting.
  • Chopsticks are set in front of all the plates, the thinner end facing towards the left and resting on a chopstick rest.
  • The ‘main’ component of the meal (meat, fish, noodles) is set either in the front just behind the chopsticks, or in the middle.
  • Side dishes, bowls, and cups are arranged around the main dish so that everything looks balanced but asymmetrical.

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A lot of Japanese tableware has a rustic appearance, with uneven rims, abstract paintwork, and crooked edges. This all adheres to the appreciation of the beauty of imperfection that underlies wabi-sabi.

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Complete dining sets are not generally used in Japan. Instead, components from different bowl, plate, cup, and chopstick sets are combined and arranged until they suit each other. This makes for an infinite number of table setting possibilities.

Types of Tableware

Rice bowl 1

Rice bowl 2

Rice bowl 3

Rice Bowls

Arguably the most unchanging piece of tableware, rice bowls are generally small (between 10-13cm in diameter), shaped like upside-down bells (often with curved lips). They usually do not come with lids, and rice is piled in so that it looks like a little mountain that can be seen over the top of the bowl.

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Miso soup bowl 2

Miso soup bowl 1

Miso soup bowl 3

Miso Bowls

These bowls tend to be similar in size to rice bowls (between 10-13cm in diameter) but with a more circular or cylindrical shape, and made of wood or lacquer. Miso bowls sometimes come with lids, so that when the miso is served the lid can be opened and the wonderful aromas experienced all at once.

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Donburi bowl 1

Donburi bowl 3

Donburi bowl 2

Donburi/Noodle Bowls

These bowls are typically used to hold one-bowl meals, like ramen noodles or donburi rice bowls. They are much bigger than rice or miso bowls (between 20-25cm in diameter) and are normally made from ceramic. A lot of care is often taken when arranging the toppings and garnishes on meals served in these bowls, to ensure that the meal looks nice in the bowl.

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Soy sauce dish 2

Soy sauce dish 3

Soy sauce dish 1

Soy Sauce Dishes

Normally used to hold soy sauce, these dishes are shallow (2-3cm in height), small (less than 10cm in diameter), and made from ceramic. They can be circular or square in shape, and their relative shallowness makes them ideal for dipping sushi. Soy sauce dishes are also handy for holding small servings of Japanese pickles.

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Chopstick rests 2

Chopstick rests 1

Chopstick rests 3

Chopstick Rests

Chopstick rests are small (between 2-4cm in length or width, less than 2cm in height), typically made of ceramic, and have dips or grooves in them for keeping a pair of chopsticks in place. Their main job is to keep the chopsticks from touching the table, which is considered very unhygienic.

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Teacups 2

Teacups 1

Teacups 3

Japanese Teacups

Japanese teacups are generally long, thin (between 8-12cm in height, 6-8cm in diameter), and cylindrical in shape (although there are many exceptions). They are almost always handleless, and their shape allows for them to be easily clutched in one hand. Perfect for sipping on sencha or matcha green tea.

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Recipes with Japanese Tableware

Original japanese breakfast cropped

健康日式早餐

通过这份日式早餐食谱来提高您早餐的营养和质量吧。日式早餐通过米饭、热汤、蛋白质、蔬菜和蜜饯的均衡搭配为人体提供充足的营养和能量,让您午饭之前都不会感到饥饿。最重要的是日式早餐不但营养健康,还很美味哦。

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Original cold green tea soba cropped

绿茶荞麦凉面

当天气日渐炎热时,您可以用这款荞麦凉面来降温解暑。这款清爽的绿茶荞麦面使用了绿茶调味的荞麦面、鲜味浓郁的酱油露、以及辛辣的芥末酱和酥脆的天妇罗碎做成的美味浇头。在炎热的夏季三伏天,还有什么能比这款绿茶荞麦凉面更能让人凉爽下来呢。

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Photo gyudon beef

日式牛肉饭

热气腾腾的米饭上铺着肥瘦相间的牛肉片,散发着浓郁的鲜香味道,这份简便的日式牛肉饭食谱将会是您制作盖饭的王牌。日式牛肉饭是日本盖饭的一种,牛肉要切成非常薄的薄片,再配上甜酱和酱油汁调味过的洋葱铺在米饭上。日本很多快餐店都有这道快餐料理,这也是很多人午餐的首选,因为它易于准备,制作快捷,并且非常美味。

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Photo home style japanese meal

日式家庭料理餐

这份循序渐进的烹饪指南将指导您制作一道传统日本料理。 传统的日本膳食通常包括一碗米饭,一碗汤以及几种不同的菜肴。即使您之前烹饪过日本料理,但要做出几种不同的菜肴还要达到膳食平衡还是有点棘手的。这份料理指南将帮助您解读日本家庭料理的膳食搭配。

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Buy Japanese Tableware Online

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Browse Japan Centre's collection of Japanese tableware and find the perfect pieces for your home.

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Japanese Tableware & Bento Boxes at Japan Centre

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