11 March 2022

Guide for Japanese Bowls

Guide for Japanese Bowls Main

Bowl is called "Wan" or "Owan" in Japan, and refers to a category of tableware that is deep in depth.

In particular, Wan is designed to be lightweight because it is meant to be lifted with one hand, whereas a bowl that is not lifted but left on the table is called “Hachi”.

The most common types of Japanese bowls are the Rice Bowl for serving white rice, which is the basis of Japanese cuisine, the Soup Bowl for serving miso soup. These bowls are considered “Wan" types because they are supposed to be lifted for use. Ramen bowls, Donburi bowl, "Kobachi" –small bowls, are classified as “Hachi" because they are supposed to be used while on the table.

 However, of course, you may use any type of bowls for your own convenience.


  • Rice Bowl
  • Soup Bowl
  • "Kobachi" Small Bowl
  • "Chubachi" Medium Bowl 
  • "Obachi" Large Bowl 
  • Donburi Bowl
  • Tonsui Bowl
  • Chawan-mushi Cup
  • Soba-choko Cup

Rice Bowl

Rice Bowl Main

What is Japanese Rice Bowl?

Rice bowls for serving cooked rice are called “Chawan”, or “Meshi-wan” or “Gohan-jawan” in Japanese. It is not the same thing as Donburi, although it is often confused with it. Unlike Donburi, which is for Donburi rice dishes, the rice bowl is only for serving rice.

Rice Bowl for Family

For yourself, or as a gift.

In Japan, each person has their own rice bowl and chopsticks, according to their favorite size and design, and material. All family members may have their own rice bowls, each with a different design. Although other tableware is shared, the rice bowl and chopsticks are rarely shared among family members.

Moreover, married couples sometimes have matching rice bowls. Therefore, matching designed rice bowls are recommended as wedding gifts.

Was it originally a matcha bowl?

It is complicated, but the Matcha bowl used in the tea ceremony is also called Chawan in the same way in Japanese. Before the Meiji period (1868-1912), "Chawan'' used to refer to all Matcha bowls, but after the Meiji period, when porcelain Matcha bowls became popular in Japanese households and were increasingly used as rice bowls, the term “Chawan" came to include rice bowls as well.

Today, both are still called Chawan in Japanese, but the shapes and styles of Chawan as a Matcha bowl and as a rice bowl are different. Also, Chawan used in the tea ceremony is sometimes called "Matcha-wan'' to distinguish it from rice bowl.

Standard Size

The typical diameter of a rice bowl is around 12 cm/4.7" and the height is around 6 cm/2.4in", which contains 150g/5.3oz of steamed rice.

Soup Bowl

Soup Bowl Main

What is Japanese Soup Bowl?

The Japanese soup bowl is called a “Shiru-wan” in Japanese, and is about the same size as a rice bowl and is used to serve various types of miso soup or “Osuimono", a soup of Dashi (broth) in Japanese cuisine. It is a type of “Wan" that is supposed to be lifted by hand and used to eat hot soup cuisine. To prevent excessive heat transfer to the hand, Japanese soup bowls are usually made of wood or Japanese lacquerware, which have low thermal conductivity.

Soup Bowl with Lid

Soup Bowl with Lid

Japanese soup bowls are designed with or without lids, and those with lids are often used for special meals where people gather, such as at New Year's or for guests. The lid keeps the temperature of the soup from getting cold and keeps it warm until everyone at the table starts eating.

Soup Bowl for Kids

Soup Bowl for Kids

Soup bowls for children in smaller sizes are often made of plastic, but there are also traditional wooden lacquerware ones.

Wood has low thermal conductivity, so even children can safely keep it in their hands, and exposure to traditional handicrafts can develop their aesthetic senses as well. The stable shape with wide foot makes it more spill-proof.

Standard Size

Having a soup bowl that is about the same size as your own rice bowl will give a sense of unity to the table setting.

The typical diameter of a soup bowl is around 12cm/4.7" and the height is around 7cm/2.7", which contains 150ml/5 oz of soup.

Kobachi Small Bowl

Kobachi Bowl

What is Kobachi Bowl?

The Japanese word "Kobachi" means "Ko" (small) and "Bachi" = "Hachi” (bowl), in other words, a small bowl. It is used to serve appetizers for one person, and several food with Kobachi can be prepared to make the table look vibrant and gorgeous.

A Kobachi of food, especially one with decorative slices of sashimi, is called “Mukouzuke".

Kobachi with Jubako Box

Combination with Jubako Bento Box

When preparing a special Japanese meal for New Year's, Hanami (cherry blossom viewing), or for guests, a combination of Jubako bento box or bamboo basket and several Kobachi appetizers can create a very gorgeous dish.

Kobachi bowls are fun items with a wide variety of patterns and types. Please try to collect your favorite ones little by little. 

Standard Size

The size of Kobachi small bowls is usually smaller than 12 cm (4.7 inches) in diameter. If you prefer something larger, we recommend Chubachi.

Chubachi Medium Bowl

Chubachi Bowl

What is Chubachi Bowl?

Chubachi is a larger bowl than Kobachi, and is more shallow than Donburi, making it suitable for serving one person's Nimono (stewed dishes). It can also be used as a serving dish or a children's dish, making it a versatile bowl.

Standard Size

Chubachi measures approximately 13-21 cm (5.1-8.3 inches). They are small enough to fit in the palm of an outstretched hand.

Obachi Large Bowl

Obachi Bowl

What is Obachi Bowl?

Obachi is a larger bowl than Chubachi and is ideal for serving food and sharing it in the center of the table. It can be used not only as a stewed dish, but also as a salad bowl, and sashimi with shredded daikon radish and other decorative garnishes.

In addition, it can be used in place of a single serving bowl or pasta dish. Along with Chubachi, it is an easy-to-use bowl.

Standard Size

Obachi is at least 22 cm (8.6 inches) in diameter.

Donburi Bowl

Donburi Bowl

What is Donburi Bowl?

Donburi bowl has been used in Japan since the Edo period (1603~), a thicker, deeper bowl that is one or two sizes larger than a Japanese rice bowl. Donburi dishes are also called "Don" and come in many varieties, such as Oyako-don and Katsu-don.

In addition to rice dishes, it can also be used to serve noodles such as soba and udon. To enjoy Japanese food easily at home, Donburi is a must-have japanese tableware.

Donburi with Lid

Function of the Lid

Some donburi bowls come with lids of the same design. By placing the lid over the Don dish to serve, not only keeps the food from getting cold, but also allows the food on the freshly prepared rice to steam, making it more fluffy until just before eating.

Also, the experience of opening the lid when eating will give your guests a special impression of the dish.

Ramen Bowl

What is Ramen Bowl?

Ramen bowl is, as the name suggests, a bowl for serving ramen. Since ramen is a dish characterized by noodles and soup with various toppings such as eggs, roasted pork, and pickled bamboo shoots on top, the ramen bowl is larger than the donburi bowl and is characterized by its wider rim.

Since Ramen is a cuisine of Chinese origin, Ramen bowls made in Japan are sometimes decorated with Chinese-style designs.

Standard Size

If you are looking for a Donburi Bowl that can be used for anything other than Japanese food, this is a good size to start with. Selecting a Donburi that is around 8cm/3.1" depth and 15-19cm/6-7.5" in diameter will be the easiest to use.

When you eat a lot of noodles, you'd better focus more on the diameter, when you eat a lot of donburi rice dishes, you'd better focus more on the depth.

Tonsui Bowl

Tonsui Bowl

What is Tonsui Bowl?

Tonsui bowl is a small bowl with a simple knob. It is mainly used as a serving dish when eating ”Nabe” (hot pot) or to hold sauces for tempura and other dishes.

To hold a tonsui, pinch the knob between the thumb and forefinger of the opposite hand holding the cutlery and support it with the remaining fingers to the side.

Standard Size

The typical diameter of a Tonsui bowl is around 12 cm/4.7" and the height is around 4.5 cm/1.7 in".

Chawan-mushi Cup

Chawan-mushi Cup

What is Chawan-mushi Cup?

Chawan-mushi is a salty Japanese steamed pudding based on Dashi (Japanese soup stock) and egg, and Chawan-mushi cup is a special container for this purpose. It has a lid and is similar in design to the Japanese soup bowl, but it is made of heat-resistant porcelain rather than wood or lacquerware because the entire bowl needs to be placed in a steamer or pot for cooking. It is also used as a soup bowl.

Alternatively, it can be used as a dessert cup, such as a Western-style sweet pudding.

Standard Size

The typical diameter of a chawan-mushi cup is around 10 cm/4" and the height is around 10 cm/4in", which contains 240g/8.1oz of chawan-mushi.

Soba-choko Cup

Soba-choko Cup

What is Soba-choko Cup?

Soba-choko cups have long been used in Japan to hold the dipping sauce for cold soba noodles, but they are also loved as all-purpose cups because they are just the right size for other uses. Because of its reasonable size, it is often chosen as a gift, and there are even collectors who specialize in soba-choko.

Soba Choko as Teacup

One of the Most Versatile Japanese Tableware

Soba-choko is not just a specialty vessel for soba dipping sauce, but can also be used as a teacup, coffee cup, whiskey or sake cup, or as a dessert cup or a chawan-mushi cup, as well. Having a few of these cups is convenient for entertaining guests, and the variety of patterns on them will give a fun impression.

Standard Size

The typical diameter of a soba-choko cup is around 7cm/2.7" and the height is around 6 cm/2.4in", which contains 150g/5.3oz of drink. The shape is basically a simple inverted trapezoid silhouette.