Sunday, February 26, 2017

My favorite things 9

In 2010 I spent a week in Japan thanks to the publishing company Nihon Vogue, which sponsors the Quilts Japan Prize, which I won at Quilt National '09.  I was fortunate to spend four wonderful days in Tokyo doing arty and quilty things, and then hook up with my sister-in-law for three equally wonderful days in Kyoto.

I am not a souvenir person; I'm usually perfectly happy with an envelope full of paper ephemera -- the ticket stubs, restaurant menus, foreign-language newspapers and beer coasters that you acquire in your travels.  I might buy some postcards but usually my customs declaration totals less than $25.  (I've had suspicious immigration officials brace me on that, because no women are capable of spending that little in a month away...)

But in Kyoto I couldn't resist.  I bought some silk, mostly scraps from kimono fabrics, for maybe 50 cents each.  I bought some cute little doodads for Zoe to hang from her cellphone (all the rage among Japanese teenagers).  And I bought these four soup bowls.  I love them all, and I generally use whichever one is on top of the stack, but if they're all in use I'll probably give the radiating stripes to myself.

The Japanese don't go for matchy-matchy housewares; it's customary to use not only dishes of different designs, like mine, at the same meal, but dishes of different shapes, sizes and styles to complement various foods.  Many observers attribute this to the wabi sabi mindset, in which imperfection is considered beautiful.  So you mend your old clothes and broken dishes, you accept your wrinkles and age spots, you don't mind if the spoon is bent or the plate is chipped, and you downright love it if the soup bowls all have different designs.


  1. I love the bowls. For me blue-white is favorite for dishes and other tableware and I use it all together. My brother was in Kyoto too and bought me some black and brown pieces of silk. I think I'll make a bag of it.

  2. I'm such a sucker for blue and white. I was in heaven in Japan and China.

  3. I love these bowls too.
    Thank you for your explanation.
    Later I will read more on your blog, I just discovered it.

  4. I love the philosophy that imperfection is considered beautiful! Can apply to so many areas of life and creativity.

  5. I'm sorta partial to that little blue crab lurking at the bottom of the bowl...very wabi sabi😊

  6. My daughter, who lived in Japan for a few years, also explained to me that her host mother was careful to use dishes that paired with the food; i.e., Chinese food with Chinese chop sticks (yes, there is a difference), American with American, Japanese with Japanese. It's been interesting to make distinctions here, although sometimes, it is simply different dishes...I have only a few dishes that actually match! our most complimented plates came from the nearby dollar store!

  7. I like mix and match which allowed my kids to give me one bowl for Christmas or whatever. But then my daughter decided to fix it by giving me 7 matching bowls this past Christmas. Would have been 8 but she dropped one.:)
    Your lovely bowls are a happy quartet. So soothing.

    1. I'm told that the standard set of Japanese tableware is five, not four.