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Editor’s Notes

When you kaiseki cuisine (a type of Japanese cuisine that consists of a course of many small dishes), do you pay attention to the plates? The expression of how to serve the food is important in Japanese cuisine, in addition to the taste of the food. Today, we are going to show you the “basics of bowls and how to enjoy it” in Japanese Cuisine.


1. Japanese Cuisine and Bowls

2. Different Shapes of Japanese Bowls and Plates

3. What Kind of Plate Should You Choose for Certain Dishes?

4. Before We End

1. Japanese Cuisine and Bowls

Bowls and plates are so important in Japanese cuisine that it can be said to be the “kimono for the food.” Japanese Cuisine expresses the passing of the seasons inside the bowl as the chef cooks the seasonal ingredients. A chef serves food while thinking about the balance of the bowl and food and the function. Let me now explain the different types of plates and bowls in Japanese Cuisine.

Sushi Yoshino | Pocket Concierge


Pottery is made by baking clay that has been kneaded adding water to dirt. There are various pottery in Japan depending on the region or the manufacturing method. Below are three kinds of pottery.


Earthenware are bowls made mainly with clay. Different kinds of earthenware were born because of the influence of the tea utensil boom in the Azuchi Momoyama Period. Karatsu ware, Mino ware, and Hagi ware are especially famous.


Stoneware are made by creating a bowl with clay and baking it for a long time. It is also called “yakishime.” Shigaraki ware, Iga ware, and Bizen ware are famous.


A bowl made with a material made by adding powdered feldspar, silica, or porcelain stone to white-colored clay. Painting is often applied to utilize the white color. Porcelain is highly unbreakable and is called “ishimono” which means “stone things.” Arita pottery and Kutani pottery are famous.

Lacquer ware

Lacquer ware are bowls made by applying many layers of lacquer on tree or paper. By applying many thin layers, the bowl becomes strong. The illuminant property also becomes stronger when you polish it. These factors have made lacquer ware be used since ancient times. The colors can be changed by adding pigment and lacquer with various colors such as black, red, yellow, green are used.

Other bowls

Various bowls are used depending on the four seasons, other than “pottery” and “lacquer ware.” For example, a chef may use bamboo shoot skin as a bowl or put many colored leaves on the plate in the fall. The passing of the season can be expressed by using different kinds of bowls.

2. Different Shapes of Japanese Bowls and Plates

Japanese Cuisine uses many kinds of bowls and plates of different shape and sizes. Let me introduce the bowls used everyday depending on the shape.

Hakuro | Pocket Concierge

Kobachi (small bowls)

A dish called “mukouzuke” is served in Kaiseki Cuisine, in addition to rice and soup. Mukouzuke tends to be something like seafood such as sashimi or aemono (vegetables dressed in sauces), which is served on a hand-size bowl.
A kobachi is a kind of a small bowl. As Japanese Cuisine serves many hand-size dishes, using multiple kobachi is considered to be a standard rule depending on the season or changes of the ingredients.

Saramono (plates)

Many Japanese Cuisine dishes are served on plates called “saramono”. However, there are different kinds of categories in the “saramono” category, as Japanese Cuisine values the balance between the plate and the dish above all else.
The smallest kind of plate is called “mamezara” (bean plate). The diameter is about 5cm and is also called a condiment plate. It its used to place condiments, put citrus like lemon and sudachi, and serve bite-size dishes.
“Kozare/nakazara” (small plate/middle sized plate) are next. Although there are no definite measurements, it is about 9cm – 21cm. The depth and the shape differs depending on the plate, but most dishes can be served on it.
The last one is the “o-zara” (large plate). It is used when sharing food among several people. “O-zara” also has some empty areas that makes expressing the height difference of the food easier, adding a good impact to the dish and colors.

Hachimono (bowls)

Japanese Cuisine often serves food in a small bowl just enough for a single person. This is why hachimono, a type of bowl with different depth and sizes are indispensable. Hachimono is used when serving food for a single person, but chefs can also serve food in a large hachimono for sharing to add some changes to the course.
A hachimono with handles are also used depending on the dish. Since it is hard to wash, it can be inconvenient to keep using, but it adds a nice change to the course. It is indispensable to create a special atmosphere.

Wanmono (bowls)

Wanmono does not only serve soup. It is a special bowl that supports the entire course. There are different kinds of wanmono, such as suimonowan (a wanmono specifically designed to serve a clear soup called suimono) or kosuimono (a smaller suimonowan). Wanmono called nimonowan (wanmono serving simmer food) and big and flat wanmono are often used to serve food other than soup. Wanmono destined to serve rice is also often used in Kaiseki Cuisine.


Hassunzara is a 24cm-sized plate. Different kinds of food to be paired with sake is often served in the middle of Kaiseki Cuisine. A plate used for this is called hassunzara. A square-shaped one used to be the standard, but today, there are various kinds of hassunzara, such as round ones and battledore-shaped ones.
There are also other kinds of plates with different sizes.

Jubako (layered laquered boxes)

Jubako is often used when serving a special kind of dish served during New Years. It is said to have spread during the Edo Period. During that time, people packed food in a jubako when going out. Today, we use it for various purposes such as putting sashimi for sharing.

3. What Kind of Plate Should You Choose for Certain Dishes?

808TOKYO | Pocket Concierge

Choosing the right plate means you are choosing the way you want to present the dish.
We are going to now talk about what the chefs are thinking when thinking about the combination of the dish and plate.

Dishes Containing a Lot of Water

It is common to use large bowls for such dishes. Choosing a bowl that prevents the temperature from decreasing and allows you to hold it with your hand would be important if you are serving a hot soup. Wooden bowls are also better if you want to keep the moisture.

Dishes Containing Less Water

It is common to use a bowl or a plate that is not so deep. If it is a wide plate that has depth, you can serve food that contains some sauce that came out as a result of simmering, without the sauce overflowing. Bowls for serving simmered dishes are also recommended depending on the dish.

Food to be Paired with Sake or Delicacies

As these dishes are served in small portions, it is common to be served in a small wine up. Although wine cups are originally used to serve wine or sake, there are different kinds of sizes and types. Choosing the right one will make the whole presentation interesting.

4. Before We End

The beauty of the appearance as well as the taste is what makes Japanese Cuisine complete. You will be able to enjoy the depth of Japanese Cuisine if you focus on not only the delicious taste of the dishes, but also how the plates and bowls are used to present the food.

Kioicho Fukudaya | Pocket Concierge


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