As we talked about daily used pottery and porcelain, tableware in Japan probably is the most developed mingei. Lacqureware, especially Echizen lacqureware is another important part of the art along the table. Briefly touching about this, a number of terms are used in Japanese to refer to lacquerware. Shikki (漆器) means "lacquer ware" in the most literal sense, while nurimono (塗物) means "coated things", and urushi-nuri (漆塗) means "lacquer coating." Lacquer has been used in urushi-e, prints, and on a wide variety of objects from Buddha statues to bento boxes for food.
As the traditional Japanese food culture, washoku (literally, “food of Japan”) culture develops, the basic washoku structure of “One Soup and Three Dishes” (1 soup dish, 1 main dish, 2 side dishes) become richer with many more dishes, each of which is served with a specific vessel. A bento box and a tray are to begin with to carry multiple dishes with you or bring the dishes to the table safely as well as beautifully. All dishes can be transported to a place mat on the table.
For a full meal, soup is usually first served in a soup bowl, called Hashi-araiwan bowl (chopstick-rinsing bowl). It is a small type of bowl in which the lid is used to put food on it while you enjoy washoku, or its finest form as kaiseki dinner (Japanese-style multicourse dinner). Soup can also be served in a smaller Kosuiwan bowl, a tableware used for pouring in little amounts of soup. Depending on different types of rice, rice in the soup can be served in a zoni bowl, while Donburi (bowl) and nidan donburi (Don & double stack don, two-stepped bowl) are used to serve rice with toppings like sushi, fried pork belly, beef, etc. Hanki or Chawan can be bowls for pure rice. Unaju is the special bento box for eel rice. For other dishes, Soba-choko is a container for holding soba dipping sauce and Funamoriki is the special sashimi boat. Vegetables or boiled dished can be served with Nimonowan bowl or Yakimono-zara, a flat plate in various sizes and is usually in rectangular shape. Kobachi is a small bowl normally used to hold sunomono (dishes with vinegar) or chimmi (special delicacies).
The artistic part of Japanese tableware is each single dish can come with its unique vessel. Based on different size of the dish, taste, color or even the season or the interior design of the house, all types of tableware can be found and used at a Japanese meal. Triangle, heart-shape, flower-shape, etc. Sake bottles, chopsticks, spoons, soy sauce plate, desert plate, on and on to the list and can you imagine each of the family members has his or her own set of everything? Check out the video below to see if you are as surprised as the foreign guests in the show by NHK cool japan
The tableware is to bring more tastes beyond food as it reveals your mood, your feeling to the guests or just the moment when you enjoy the meal.