While it may seem like the simplest of tea making utensils, the humble tea bowl or chawan (茶碗) holds a central place in Japanese tea culture and comes in many different shapes and styles, each with their own history and meaning. Here we explore some of the more common shapes of chawan and what makes each one unique.
Japanese teaware comes in a huge variety of shapes, colours, glazes, and decorations. These styles are often closely tied to the various local pottery traditions that create these beautiful pieces of functional art. As the country with the oldest known pottery tradition, Japan is home to hundreds of ceramic production areas scattered across the archipelago, each with its own distinct clays, glazes, and decoration styles.
Usucha (or 'thin tea'), known for its vibrant green colour and creamy texture, is the most common way to drink matcha (we'll talk more about Koicha, 'thick tea' later). While it may look sophisticated, its actually very easy to make!