In this article, you will get to know Japanese tableware: bowls, chopsticks, sake sets, and other utensils made in Japan that can be used in various places and occasions, from authentic Japanese restaurants to casual dining. The items featured here are handpicked traditional pieces that boast the highest quality and showcase craftsmanship cultivated over the generations. There are many items that only BECOS can ship overseas, so if you live abroad, you should check them out here! Use this article as a guide to get your Japanese tableware collection in order!
Japanese Rice Bowls
Originally used in tea ceremonies, the term “chawan” has evolved to refer to bowls used for rice in recent years. They are essential tableware for Japanese restaurants. Below are some rice bowls that have been carefully chosen for this article.
1. WHITE RICE BOWL
This is a white rice bowl made in the approximately 1,300-year-old Mino ware technique, and is super easy to match with various dishes. Even though it is white, there are some yellow streaks to give it a retro vibe. The chopsticks in the foreground have been placed for size comparison. While this rice bowl is quite big, it also comes in smaller sizes.
2. HAGI RICE BOWL
This is an Iga ware rice bowl with a hagi (Japanese clover) pattern. This pattern has been considered as a lucky charm for prosperity since ancient times in Japan. While this may be quite small in size, it is useful when you want to serve a small amount of rice at the end of a course meal.
3. FLOWER CRYSTAL (GINFUJI) RICE BOWL
Featuring a beautiful design of flowers in bloom on the surface, this rice bowl uses the distinctive crystalline glaze found in Kyo/Kiyomizu ware. It evokes elegance and glamor, and is best matched with equally exquisite bowls and chopstick rests.
4. RICE BOWL RIKYU LACQUER KURAWANKA TYPE (SMALL, LARGE)
This is a set of small and large Kagawa lacquerware rice bowls in the shape of “kuwaranka.” Giving off a feeling of stability owing to the large base, these bowls were originally designed in such a way that sailors could use them at sea without them tipping over. Lacquerware is light and has superb heat retention ability, making it suitable to be used for rice bowls. It also has a soft, delicate image unique to lacquerware, making it easy to combine with other kinds of dishes.
Japanese Soup Bowls
Bowls are a must when serving Japanese-style soups and juicy simmered dishes. While plenty of cheap plastic bowls are available, one should always try to use real lacquered bowls when serving dishes in a restaurant. Note, though, that these bowls are fragile, so when customers do not know how to use them, the lacquer on the bowls could peel off. Aside from lacquered bowls, there are also ceramic bowls and numerous other types!
5. Kumejiro Echizen Lacquerware Iron Wire Soup Bowl Set of 5
This is a set of five soup bowls made of Echizen lacquerware, which has a history spanning around 1,500 years. The Kumejiro brand of bowls uses high-quality lacquer and are known for their sparkling gold “makie” lacquer work that is made using pure gold powder. They are one of the most trusted brands when it comes to lacquerware.
6. Kumejiro Echizen Lacquerware Tame Silver Interior Simmered Food Bowl Set of 5
This is a set of five bowls for simmered or boiled dishes from the same Kumejiro brand as the product above. It uses a technique called “tamenuri” (colored lacquer is used as an undercoating and a transparent lacquer is applied as a topcoat), and the more you use it, the more red in color it becomes. With these bowls, you will get to enjoy the true texture and feel of lacquerware.
Many high-class Japanese restaurants have trays and chopsticks prepared for each seat. The trays are often used for serving dishes, and their mere presence dramatically changes the table’s ambience. You can easily create an air of luxury by purchasing lacquerware trays.
7. OBOROTSUKI OBON / TRAY 300 (LACQUER)
This is a lacquerware tray that generously uses the traditional craft of Kanazawa gold leaf. It is a modern masterpiece created by skilled craftspeople displaying the moon with a faint shadow drawn on the grain of natural wood using real gold leaf. The golden moon is absolutely gorgeous and will perfectly match all kinds of dishes and tableware.
8. Kumejiro Echizen Lacquerware Tame Half-Moon Tray 3048-6
This is the half-moon tray from the Echizen lacquerware brand Kumejiro who also made the soup bowls featured earlier. Being “tamenuri” lacquerware, it becomes increasingly reddish in color as it is used. This tray has a simple shape with a straight line at the front, making it easy to place chopsticks on.
While many fancy Japanese restaurants have shifted to disposable chopsticks due to hygiene issues, if you really want to add an extra layer of beauty to your dishes, you should consider the use of genuine lacquered chopsticks. Many Japanese households use chopstick sets for couples, meaning that there’s a set of chopsticks for men and a shorter set for women. However, when visiting a Japanese restaurant, you will notice that the chopsticks are all the same size. This is done on purpose.
9. CHOPSTICKS : MODERN HANATABA URUSHI BLACK
These are high-class chopsticks carefully and individually made by expert craftspeople of Wakasa lacquerware, a nationally designated traditional craft. The ends are shaped like a star, which makes them the perfect choice if you want to use chopsticks fancier than most. There is also an equally recommended red version that comes in the same size. As these high-quality chopsticks are offered at an affordable price, completing the set is easy!
10. CHOPSTICKS : RINPA X WAJIMA LACQUER CHOPSTICKS RUNNING WATER
Similar to the above, these are high-class chopsticks made by fusing Wakasa lacquerware with the elegant decorations of Wajima lacquerware alongside the Rinpa painting style (a school of art that flourished around the 1600s). The blue pattern flowing like running water is utterly beautiful. These are truly exquisite chopsticks that everyone should have handy in anticipation of special guests.
Japanese Chopstick Rests
A chopstick rest acts as a place to put chopsticks when not in use. Restaurants often change their chopstick rests depending on the season and dishes, constantly changing the room’s atmosphere. So, while they may be small, it would be better to have several types of chopstick rests. If there is no chopstick rest provided and customers are using disposable chopsticks, they can fold the disposable chopsticks wrapper into a chopstick rest. However, not everyone knows this trick, so it would still be best to have genuine chopstick rests ready for guests.
11. GOSU CHOPSTICK REST (5-PIECE SET)
These are a set of chopstick rests made in the way of Hizen Yoshida ware, a kind of pottery with a 400-year-old history under the patronage of the Nabeshima clan, the feudal lords of the time who also supported Arita ware. “Gosu” is a blue pigment that has long been used for ceramics and other types of porcelain. These chopstick rests are characterized by their blue color that will not fade due to being applied in an unglazed state. It is no mean feat to fire these rests in different colors, relying entirely on the sensitive feel and experience of the craftspeople making them. It is also considered stylish to deliberately put out chopstick rests in different colors on the same table, something that those in the know will appreciate!
12. CHOPSTICK REST DROP
These are Osaka Naniwa tinware chopstick rests, which boasts a history of more than 300 years and has been designated a traditional craft of Japan. They are intentionally made uneven to look like natural stones that have been carved, giving them a unique appearance. While these chopstick rests are not the flashy kind, they are easy to pair with various dishes and chopsticks.
13. CHOPSTICK HOLDER-KNOT
This is a set of Takaoka copperware chopstick rests, another traditional craft of Japan with a 400-year history. They are inspired by the lucky mizuhiki pattern, making them perfect for celebrations. They can be easily bent by hand, so you can shape them anyway you want.
14. [CHOPSTICK REST SET] 5 PIECES BROWN
This is a set of chopstick rests made of Sekishu tiles which have a history of more than 400 years. Coming in a muted color, these chopstick rests will not interfere with the table setting and can be used in any season. These rests are also available in Black and Terra cotta, so feel free to grab your favorite color!
Platters can be used in a variety of situations, such as for sashimi, tempura, and hors d’oeuvres. Naturally, it’s best to have a collection of platters in different shapes and colors to go with various kinds of dishes. High-end Japanese restaurants usually have a considerable number and types of platters, which they bring out not just according to the dishes, but to be paired with the seasons and time of year.
15. PLATE GOLD & SILVER SARA (L)
This is a large glass platter made by SUN GLASS STUDIO KYOTO, a shop established in Kyoto by Taizo Ito, who was trained in the celebrated glass-making city of Otaru. With a diameter of 26.0 cm and height of 6.5 cm (10.23″x 2.55″), the size of this platter is ideal for cold dishes like sashimi along with summer dishes. In addition, the sparkling gold and silver and air bubble design glitters magnificently in the light, exuding a modern feel without being overpowering. This platter is a masterpiece that is also very easy to use.
16. FLOWER CRYSTAL (BLUE ON WHITE) PLATE
This is an elegant platter typical of the Kyo/Kiyomizu ware of Kyoto. It uses a glaze that forms crystals when cooled after being melted in a kiln, creating a design on the surface resembling a beautiful flower in bloom. It comes in a cool blue and white color, so it is recommended for dishes that you want to look refreshing. There is also a Brown variant in this series, which should suit dishes served in autumn, such as those decorated with autumn leaves.
17. Yamamoto Choza [Imperial House Agency Use] Kutani Ware Serving Plates, Peach Arabesque
Amongst the manufacturers of the long-established Kutani ware, Kutani Mangetsu is one of the leading specialty shops in the Hokuriku region. The shop is home to two national living treasures, one of whom is Choza Yamamoto, a craftsman with an incredible track record in making numerous Kutani wares for the Imperial Household Agency, an organization in the Cabinet that handles affairs and ceremonies for the Imperial family.
The platter pictured above is a beautiful serving plate with a design by Yamamoto, featuring peaches which are often believed to be a charm against evil spirits, along with an Arabesque scroll pattern to bring good luck. It measures 26.5 cm in diameter and 6 cm in height, so it can fit a wide variety of dishes. More than anything, though, the simple color combination of white porcelain and dark blue makes this platter especially easy to match with Japanese dishes. Everyone should have at least one of these kinds of special platters!
Japanese Small Bowls
Small bowls are used when serving side dishes such as boiled and pickled food. We recommend having several small bowls in different shapes and colors to match the dishes you will be serving.
18. SMALL BOWL PLATINUM
One small bowl worth having in your kitchen is this transparent small bowl. Because it is extremely versatile, you can use it for sashimi, pickled dishes, stews, and many other kinds of side dishes. Its size is just right and it is very affordable.
19. FOUR-SIDED BOWL (LARGE)
This is a must-have Bizen ware small bowl. While it may appear plain and simple at first glance, its natural texture will make your dishes, especially Japanese food, even more appetizing. Its shape is sleek and modern and will work to showcase the skill of the chef.
20. ARABESQUE MORNING GLORY SMALL BOWL
This is a small bowl from Sojiro Kiln, who create tableware with Arita ware characteristics. While it is made of celadon porcelain—a bluish-green porcelain—the auspicious scroll pattern is done in white to ensure it stands out. The pale color also makes it easy to use for various dishes. The shape is inspired by a morning glory flower, and is quite handy with a diameter of 13.5 cm and height of 4.5 cm.
21. Kutani Ware Small Bowls, Set of 5, Madori Red Fine Pattern, Japanese Cutlery, Serving Plates, Made in Japan
This is a small square bowl that uses a bright red color unique to Kutani ware. Bowls like these are often seen in kaiseki course meals. Measuring H11.5 cm x W15.0 cm x H4.5 cm (4.5″ x 5.9″ x 1.8″) in size, it is extremely versatile and can be used to serve a variety of dishes.
“Mamezara” are small plates that come in various shapes and sizes. Often holding soy sauce used in sashimi and sushi, they are generally served side by side on plates or trays with an assortment of bite-sized dishes. High-class Japanese restaurants, in particular, should have a wide range of mamezara in different shapes and colors. They instantly make food look even more beautiful!
22. SMALL DISH (PLATE) TSUGARU SCENE BEAN PLATE SET
This is a set of colorful Tsugaru vidro small plates. Made with designs inspired by cherry blossoms blown by the spring breeze (red), lush fresh verdure (green), the sea sparkling in the clear sky (blue), and rape blossoms carpeting the foot of a mountain (yellow), these small plates add beauty and color to any table setting. As they appear rather flashy, it is important to use them at the right time.
23. [SMALL DISH (PLATE)] GOSU SMALL PLATE (5-PIECE SET)
This is a set of GOSU mamezara from the same series as the GOSU CHOPSTICK REST featured earlier. These small plates also present a beautiful color gradation, with the additional changing colors on the surfaces of the plates appearing absolutely delightful. They will not interfere with your table setting, so you can use them during numerous types of occasions.
24. [SMALL DISH (PLATE)] SHUN JAPAN SHUKIN MAME PLATE (5 PIECES)
This is a set of Mino ware mamezara bearing what is considered to be a design of good fortune with the traditional colors of gold and red. When used during a celebration, they will work to instantly brighten up the table!
25. HANAEMI MAMEZARA Blue Chrysanthemum Seto Ware Tableware (CULTURE BY DESIGN)
These are Seto ware mamezara made by CULTURE BY DESIGN, a popular brand for modern tableware. The chrysanthemum flower shape is really cute. Furthermore, they come in non-obtrusive colors like light blue and sand, so they can change up the dining table without starkly contrasting with the actual food. This series offers not just small plates, but large plates as well, so why not collect them all?
Japanese Long, Rectangular Plates
While long, rectangular plates were originally used primarily for grilled fish, they are now employed for a wide variety of purposes, including serving assorted sashimi along with bite-sized dishes together with mamezara. When serving multiple dishes, it is important to remember to leave enough room on the sides. The trick to properly using these plates is to serve dishes in small batches, refraining from overfilling them.
26. KUSHIME SAURY PLATE BLACK
While this Mino ware plate was originally intended for grilled fish like Pacific saury, its stylish color and simple design makes it ideal for serving appetizers and other dishes, too. It is also reasonably priced and is worth buying multiple of. The subdued white-colored version is also highly recommended.
27. PLATE (SMALL)| NAOTO TSUNEKI | BIZEN WARES
Measuring W25.0 cm x D6.0 cm x H1.0 cm, this is a relatively small Bizen ware long rectangular plate. The patterns appear naturally on the plate from the way it is put in the kiln and the firing temperature, making each a one-of-a-kind with no two bearing the exact same pattern and color. It is recommended for serving small amounts of appetizers. While the look is different, this plate also comes in a large size, so be sure to check that out too if you desire a larger plate.
Japanese Sake Sets
If you want to serve Japanese sake, you’ve got to have the right tableware. Ideally, you’d want to purchase a set that comes with both a tokkuri (sake pitcher) along with sake cups for drinking. In addition, you should have separate sake sets for both cold sake and hot sake.
28. [SAKE BOTTLE] FLOWER CRYSTAL (BLUE ON WHITE) SAKE SET (3-PIECE SET)
This is a Kyo/Kiyomizu ware Japanese sake set with a hanakessho (crystal flower) pattern. You can easily pop it in the microwave and use it to serve hot sake. In addition, due to its cool, refreshing color, you can also pour and drink cold sake with it. Owing to its beautiful, easy-to-use design, this is a truly remarkable set that will add a touch of convenience to your cupboard. Also be sure to check out the other sake set that features charcoal blue flower crystals set against a bright yellow background.
29. [SAKE BOTTLE] SAKE SET KISARAGI
This is a sake set made from Osaka Naniwa tinware, which boasts a history of over 300 years. Tin has the ability to absorb impurities and purify water, making the sake taste milder. Thanks to this, this product has become a hit amongst passionate Japanese sake lovers. There are various designs available, so you can search for one that suits your taste.
30. [SAKE BOTTLE] DOUBLE-COVERED TOKKURI & OCHOKO 2 PIECES (GOLD RED-LAPIS LAZULI) IN A PAULOWNIA BOX
This beautiful sake set is made of Satsuma Kiriko (cut glass). Upon the single color that most Satsuma Kiriko have, this item is covered by additional layers of gold red and lapis lazuli to create a gorgeous gradation. While the color may be bright, it will not interfere with the other dishes and will add another layer of beauty to your setting. The other color, the Green Lapis Lazuli, is from a different series that does not come with a tokkuri, but with a katakuchi (a sake pourer with a spout on one side). Make sure to check that out, too!
31. KOKEMUSU KATAKUCHI SAKE SET (3-PIECE SET)
This is a katakuchi sake set in the Wajima lacquerware style reviving the “Nerikanshitsu®,” a three-dimensional lacquer technique from 1,300 years ago. It looks heavy, but is actually very light. Furthermore, the more you use it, the more the beautiful moss green color will appear. It is a genuine masterpiece that will delight users in its changing appearance over the years. An additional highlight is the solid structure that will not crack or break even in dry climates.
32. [SAKE CUP] MT. FUJI SERIES
While this series does not come with a sake pitcher, it is a gorgeous set of Osaka Naniwa tinware “guinomi” (a cup for drinking Japanese sake that’s slightly bigger than the typical sake cup) shaped like Mt. Fuji that comes in five different colors. The design is considered to be lucky and the cups are quite colorful, making it a great set for celebrations.
Naturally, Japanese tea is the best tea to pair with Japanese food. However, if you serve Japanese tea in a regular mug, you risk ruining the atmosphere and experience. That’s why, for Japanese tea, one should make the effort to use a proper teacup.
33. FIVE-COLORED FLOWER CRYSTAL TEA BOWL (5-PIECE SET)
This is a 5-piece set of hanakessho flower crystal teacups made in the Kyo/Kiyomizu ware style. They present an elegant look and their pale color will only serve to complement the actual food. While it is common to serve teacups in the same style, you can also try spicing things up by serving tasteful multicolored teacups. Note that teacups of this shape are usually served with a “chataku” (wooden saucer that is placed under the teacup).
34. YUNOMI (WHITE / BLACK)
These are chic black and white teacups made using the Mino ware technique, which boasts a history of roughly 1,300 years. They are stylishly modern in design and quite reasonably priced, allowing one to easily purchase them all. You don’t need a saucer to use these.
35. HIBIKI TSUKISHIROYU YUNOMI
This is a traditionally-shaped Kyo/Kiyomizu ware-style teacup. While pale, it is also adorned with a faint rainbow design on the surface, making it look elegant without overwhelming the table setting. This teacup is made by Dainichi, one of the few potters that still use glaze from natural ash. This refined beauty born from nature is truly an astonishing sight to behold!
36. Aizu Lacquerware Tea Cup Stopper Wood 4.0 Hashai Chaso, 5 Piece Set
This is a set of five teacup saucers made using the Aizu lacquerware technique, which has been designated as a traditional craft of Japan by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. The wood grain is utterly breathtaking, while the luster and natural texture of the lacquer make them fit for any occasion or style of cup.
As tea is generally served after being poured into cups, many people are of the opinion that a nice teapot is not necessary. However, an elegant Japanese-style “kyusu” teapot will completely change the way Japanese tea appears, while the taste will also vary significantly depending on how the tea is brewed, making a high-quality teapot necessary for those wanting to properly brew good tea.
37. FLOWER CRYSTAL (WHITE) KYUSU
This is a hanakessho flower crystal Kyo/Kiyomizu ware teapot that you can combine with the teacups in No. 35 that are also made in the same technique. This teapot boasts the squeeze-type design (the spout is positioned at the top between the lid) common in Kyoto, making it easy to use as the tea leaves do not spill out when you pour the tea. When you use this, keep in mind that the best water for Japanese tea is soft water (50-80 ppm). The taste of Japanese tea totally changes depending on the water you use!
38. KYUSU IBUSHI YOKOTE
This is an Osaka Naniwa tinware teapot that makes water more delicious owing to the properties of tin. The term “ibushi” means “smoking,” and in this case, it means to blacken the teapot by smoking metal with sulfur and such. As its name suggests, it is darker than most tinware, giving off a rustic, calming charm.
39. JAPAN BLUE AOI TORI (JAPANESE PAPER DYEING) KYUSU
This is a brightly colored teapot with a blue bird motif made by Kouun Kiln, who are known for creating classic and simple pottery called “Karatsu ware” and festive-looking, colorful creations called “aka-e” (red painting on ceramics) and “uwa-e” (overglaze). At the back of the teapot is an image of a cute blue-colored bird reminiscent of a hummingbird. There is also an aluminum tea strainer inside, making it really easy to use.
Donburi bowls are must-have tableware for Japanese restaurants and shops that serve udon noodles, warm soba noodles, oyako-don (chicken and egg on rice), una-don (eel on rice), and other Japanese rice or noodle dishes. These dishes tend to be given in large portions, but for the majority of occasions, the following sizes should suffice.
40. WHITE NOODLE BOWL
This is a Mino ware bowl that was also introduced earlier. While it is labeled as a “noodle bowl,” it can be used for donburi dishes as well. It is mostly white with a little yellow, making it suitable for a wide range of foods. With a diameter of 16.5 cm and height of 8.5 cm (6.49 “x H3.34”), the size is just right, too!
41. HYDRANGEA GLAZE BOWL
This is a Mino ware bowl with a diameter of 15.8 cm and height of 8.5 cm (6.22 “x H3.34”), making it just the right size for most dining occasions and dishes. The faint blue hydrangea-like color provides an additional accent to the bowl, sparkling against the discolored brown of the background. This brown color also makes dishes look extremely appetizing, especially those with multicolored ingredients such as kaisen-don (seafood bowl).
42. OCTOPUS ARABESQUE PRINCESS BOWL
A “princess bowl” is a Japanese term indicating a small-sized bowl. It is designed with an auspicious octopus arabesque pattern (the arabesque leaves resemble the suckers of an octopus) and a modern shape. It will come in handy when serving donburi and noodle dishes in course meals.
43. Bowl with Lid, Cloisonne Peony, Mino Ware
This bowl is another Mino ware piece, which makes up nearly half of all ceramics produced in Japan. It comes with a lid and features an auspicious cloisonne pattern that has been arranged so that four ovals form a circle alongside peony flowers, which are also considered to bring good fortune. The combination of white and pale indigo coloring makes this easy-to-use bowl pair perfectly with any dish.
Japanese Earthenware Pots
Earthenware pots are extremely popular in Japan, especially during cold winters, and essential for Japanese restaurants serving hot pot dishes. They have excellent heat retention abilities, yielding a taste in food that is totally different from aluminum and other kinds of pots. If you use an earthenware pot on a table for one person, you will also need to put a portable stove under the pot to heat it up at the dining table.
44. YAMASHO TOUKI HANG OUT FOR 4 PEOPLE EARTHENWARE POT
This is an earthenware pot with a subdued brown-colored vibe typical of Shigaraki ware. Its far-infrared effect brings out the delicious flavors of the ingredients, which only get deeper as you eat through it.
45. FLOWER CRYSTAL (GREEN) EARTHENWARE POT (FOR GAS & IH)
This is an exquisite earthenware pot with a beautiful Kyo/Kiyomizu ware hanakessho crystal flower lid. The stark beauty of this pot will automatically make any dish look even more delicious. This pot can be used on both gas and IH stoves. It also comes in an elegant Gray Blue color. IH-only earthenware pots are also available in a variety of other colors.
46. CHARCOAL POT (LARGE) EASY GOKORO (OPEN FIRE & IH)
While not earthenware, this carbon cooking pot should also be included due to its ability to bring out delicious flavors totally different from that of earthenware. This type of pot has numerous advantages, such as its ability to cook anything in a short period of time and its unbreakable sturdiness. While fairly expensive, people who have bought it have nothing but high praises. It is undoubtedly a gem well worth its price.
Give Japan-Made Tableware a Try!
In addition to the above 46 products, there is a plethora of additional Japanese tableware well worth having, such as rice scoops used for mixing and arranging rice in an earthenware pot or bowl, bamboo baskets for tempura, and rice bowls and lids just for making chawanmushi (savory egg custard). However, you don’t need to rush to build up your collection – slowly acquiring your Japanese tableware based upon necessity is totally fine! For extra information, you can also refer to the layouts and presentations on the websites of fancy Japanese restaurants. At the end of the day, the best way is to simply find pieces you like and start collecting them!
Incidentally, it took us considerable time to find tableware with a solid make and authenticity on many of the major online shops. There are a lot of fake or imitation products out there. Just because something is sold in Japan does not necessarily mean it is made in Japan, so do be careful when shopping online!
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*These products may not be able to be shipped to certain countries. Please see the retailer’s website for more information.
The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.