Irregularity in Japanese Tableware

Irregularity in Japanese Tableware


I borrowed several Japanese tableware from a Japanese friend. I particularly liked one of the bowl, and appreciated the generous friend who let me use such an extraordinary bowl. When I was looking at the bowl, my son said to me, “The shape of this bowl is strange.” For him, irregular shape of the bowl looked some sort of mistake. Then I started to think myself why I love this type of irregularity in Japanese tableware.

Irregularity is all over in Japanese tableware. Unlike the Western tableware sold as a complete set, including matching dinner plates, bread & butter plates, soup bowls, etc., the Japanese tableware are made to be mixed and matched. Depending on the season, color of the food, and balance to the other plates, chefs decide which plates or bowls should be used.

The irregularity also shows warmth and uniqueness. Unlike mass manufactured tableware perfectly shaped in geometric molds,  handmade tableware may be unintentionally imperfect. When a potter accept the imperfection, the tableware will be on the market.

It is strange that mono-cultural and uniformed country like Japan has long history of cherishing individuality and imperfection in tableware. Japan might have been pretty different country in the past.

Because it is extremely difficult to get decent Japanese tableware in the United States, try to look around if you have a chance to visit Japan. You may be surprised to find pretty good ones in affordable price.


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