A Guide to Japanese Tableware
Here at Oriental Mart, we’ve recently launched our new collection of Japanese tableware, so we’re here today to give you a little insight to the main products and their primary uses. If you’re a fan of oriental cooking and eating, knowledge of these key items will certainly improve your experience through authenticity.
One of the key aspects of Japanese tableware is the bowls, these will often be found with delicate patterns and will usually be accompanied by a lid. Here are the three main types of bowl:
This is one of the most common types of Japanese bowl, and are usually found to contain sticky oriental rice – a key component of the oriental diet. These are typically small in size (unless in a sharing size), and have been designed to be held in one hand for ease of eating!
This is typically used for serving Miso soup and is deeper than the chawan to hold the liquid. These bowls are accompanied by a lid to keep the soup warm during the meal in case you decide to go back for seconds. Again, the sizes of these can vary from individual portions to larger sharing bowl sizes.
This is the smallest of the Japanese bowls and is usually used to hold small special delicacies and sunomono (vinegar dishes). These are often served in groups and can on occasion also be found to contain dipping sauces.
The final key bowl in the Japanese tableware selection is the danburi-bachi, and this is used mainly for noodles and ramen. They are wider in width and often slightly shallower. These are also often used to serve larger or more complex rice dishes, as well as other meat/fish dishes that come with a sauce.
The Japanese tend not to use plates as much as we do here in the UK, putting more of a focus on the bowls for eating. The main type of plate they use is:
This is a flat, rectangular plate and can be found in a range of sizes – depending on how many it will be used to serve. These can often be found in square shapes too. Traditionally, the Yakimono-zara is used to serve meat dishes including a selection of chicken and beef, this will then be put in the centre of the table as a sharing dish.
We all know the classic cutlery that is used by the Japanese is:
These are two sticks of equal length which have been used all over East Asia for over 6,000 years. They are the fundamental cutlery staple of any oriental diet, and although tricky to master, it is a key element of the eating experience.
The Japanese consider it to be rude to place your chopsticks on the table when eating; this should be reserved solely for when you are finished with your foot. This is where the hashi-oki comes into place, used as a rest for the chopsticks. These can vary greatly in design, from a small circular shape to an intricate 3-D pattern each individual guest will have their own.
Japanese Tea Ceremonies
The Japanese are well known for their intricate tea ceremonies, and this often takes place after a meal to cleanse the palate. This is the ceremonial presentation of matcha green tea, which is an important part of Japanese culture. The tableware that commonly features in a Japanese tea ceremony are:
The chagama is the pot or kettle used during the tea ceremony and translates to ‘tea kettle’, these most commonly made of cast iron, and are used to heat the water, and keep it warm for the duration.
This is essentially the tea cup, traditionally, these will be without a handle and look similar to a small pot. They can vary in size, often depending on the reason behind the tea ceremony. Those which are more elaborately detailed suggest that they are to be used for special occasions only.