By Tamra Booth, Keeeps
With the closing of the Paralympics this weekend, it seems appropriate that we are thinking about Japan this week, and incredible country with lovely people, delicious food and a really interesting culture.
With Japan in mind, we’ve been on the hunt for and have sourced a few amazing pieces of Japanese-inspired pottery and much of this has been amazing tableware. So, to help you throw an amazing Japanese soiree (or find the perfect gift for the foodie in your life), we’ve done a bit of research into the different types of Japanese dinnerware and compiled a few hints and tips of what you’ll need on the tableware front.
Why host a Japanese-style feast?
Japanese cuisine is known all over the world for its use of unique, fresh and nutritious ingredients and delicious flavours. It’s no wonder that Tokyo has more restaurants than any other city in the world, as well as the most Michelin star restaurants. Over the past 10-20 years we’ve seen an explosion of Japanese culture and cuisine in the UK. The popularity of Japanese cuisine is largely down to the “theatre” of its food, being that it’s never dull. Usually littered with brightly coloured vegetables, it is seen as a healthy choice, and “the long lives of the Japanese have been linked to their traditional food products of green tea, soy, seaweed, raw fish, matcha and fermented foods like miso”.
Increased interest, awareness and trends around wellness, fermented food and its health benefits, hobby cooking and adventurous eating are likely to have increased the popularity of Japanese cuisine. As meat eating was outlawed in Japan for 1200 years until 1872, Japanese cuisine is well suited to vegan, vegetarian and flexitarian eating.
Whilst the food itself is not our area of expertise, and we are focusing more on the pottery tableware itself, we have to say that the sushi counter at Waitrose serves freshly made sushi right in front of you and it tastes super fresh and healthy. Alternatively, if you’re throwing a party for a special occasion and live close to Marlow, Hurley House Hotel make INCREDIBLE sushi and we whole-heartedly recommend ordering from there.
If you’re feeling adventurous, are a budding chef, or simply love preparing good food but haven’t yet tried Japanese, then Sushi Aya sell a good quality sushi kits and their website gives you a list of ingredients you’ll need to make some delicious sushi, as well as some video tutorials to lend a helping hand.
It’s all about the experience
The number five is considered important in Japanese culture. It is believed that food should be enjoyed with all five of the senses with sight considered to be just as important as taste. Arrangement of food and “beautiful tableware adds so much to the enjoyment of the meal it cannot be stressed enough”, to the extent that a meal can be completely ruined if the tableware is the wrong shape or colour.
Touch is also important for tableware as it is usual to hold vessels and utensils in the hands. “A rustic and sturdy stoneware serving dish might not be moved by the diner, but the suggestion of touch is still present. A feather-light hand-thrown porcelain rice bowl might cost ten times as much as a similar-looking factory-made one, but the enjoyment of touch adds so much that professional chefs and serious home cooks always opt for the pricier option.” This is why handmade pottery tableware is a much better choice than mass-produced, if you are hosting a Japanese-inspired dinner party or are looking for a unique gift for that budding chef or the person who loves to entertain.
Therefore, your tableware is essential to throwing a proper, traditional Japanese dinner party. Unlike in the UK where it is traditional to buy a matching set of crockery, the Japanese people mix and match their crockery, which are all different shapes, sizes and colours depending on what food is being served.
Types of tableware you’ll need for a Japanese-style gathering
The bowl is just as important as the food contained in it. For a ramen dish, the bowl must be perfectly angled to allow for the chopsticks to function properly, too high and it’ll ruin the experience. Alternatively, if the bowl is too small, topping will need to be piled on top of each other rather than spread out enticingly on the top of the dish. If you’re enjoying a soupy dish, the bowl needs to be big enough to avoid it spilling out every time you grab at the contents. 
The nourishing noodle bowls at Keeeps are multifunctional and Japanese-inspired. Deep enough for a soupy ramen, but also the perfect size for a noodle dish like Udon or Soba or equally some delicious rice dishes.
2. Plates and Platters
As sushi rolls are often served in a single line or strip, its common for sushi plates to be rectangular in shape and long and thin in design. Therefore, plates and platters are used interchangeably when it comes to serving sushi. Platters are particularly useful when serving sushi to a group as the different types of sushi should not be squashed together or touching, so the more space the better when hosting a party. 
Both the Sushi set and Perfect platter at Keeeps are very flat with slightly curved edges to allow the most surface space for positioning the sushi attractively and also to avoid the sushi or sashimi sliding everywhere.
3. Dipping bowls
Condiments are super important in Japanese cuisine and Shoyu (soy sauce) is perhaps the most well-known of the condiments, which you will find in almost any restaurant in Japan. Pickled ginger is seen as essential for palate cleansing when eating sushi and Japanese horseradish or ‘wasabi’ is typically eaten with sushi and sashimi (with a little going a long way!)  to give it a bit of a kick.
Dipping bowls are perfect for serving Japanese condiments and these gorgeous pottery ones are the perfect size for dipping your sushi into. Equally, they are big enough to be used as small side dishes, to serve some veggies or sticky rice in.
So, there you have it, a few ideas to get you going when organising your next unique dinner party! Feel free to get in touch with us or fill in our custom order form if there is any Japanese inspired (or any other cuisine!) that you need for your dinner party or as a gift and we will source something for you!