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Antrazithe colored chawan

A chawan (茶碗) is a tea cup or bowl used for preparing and drinking of matcha tea. There are many types of chawan used in Japanese tea ceremony. The choice of their use depends upon many considerations.


Jian chawan, Song Dynasty (960–1279)
Tenmoku chawan from Song Dynasty on a stand from Ming Dynasty.

The origin of chawan is China. The first chawan were introduced in Japan between the 13th and 16th Century. Until the 15th Century in Japan were mainly Chinese "Tenmoku chawan" used. This type of tea bowls were preferred for the Japanese tea ceremony until the 16th Century. The Japanese term "Tenmoku" derives from Tianmu Mountain where a Chinese Buddhist temple was located from where the Japanese monks originally the tea bowls acquired.

By the end of the Kamakura period (1185-1333), when tea drinking spread throughout Japan and the demand for "Tenmoku chawan" increase the Japanese began produce their own tea cups in Seto, Aichi Prefecture. Although "Tenmoku chawan" from China were common in various colors, shapes and styles the Japanese liked especially bowls with a tapered shape. Therefore, most Tenmoku chawan produced in Seto where made with this shape. With rising popularity of the "wabi tea ceremony" in later Muromachi period (1336-1573) "Ido chawan", Korean rice bowls, become popular in Japan.

Styles and classification

Two modern "Usuicha" tea cups


Chawan can be classified due to origin, production color, shape, material and other features. A chawan can be divided into several categories.

Although most chawan are cupped there are various other shapes. Each shape has its own name and this in turn can be divided into several categories. Common are cylindrical, flat and round shapes. Cylindrical cups are considered "Tsutsu-chawan" while shallow bowls are called "Hira-chawan".

Furthermore chawan are classified according to the type of tea served in. Like Koichawan for thick tea (Koicha) and Usuchawan" for thin tea (Usucha).

In Japan, chawan is also a general term for rice bowls. In order to distinguish them are ordinary rice bowls "Gohanchawan" called and tea cups for tea ceremonies "Matchawa". Tea cups for standard tea are commonly called "Yunomi" (literally bowl for hot water). Cups for high-quality tea are called "Senchawan".


Karamono (唐物) refers to all styles with origin China. Those tea cups where designed from beginning for consuming of tea. Despite the Chinese origin all used terms are Japanese.

  • Tenmoku (天目, Jian ceramics)
    • Haikatsugi
    • Yohen
    • Kensan
    • Yuteki
    • Taihisan
  • Seiji (青磁; celadon)
  • Hakuji (白磁; blanc de Chine)
  • Sometsuki (blue-white porcelain)


Japanese green tea in a modern senchawan.
Blue Seiji chawan

Kōraimono (高丽物) refers to all styles with origin Korea. Korean chawan where originaly rice bowls adapted in Japan for consuming tea similar to Chinese oil canister which where adapted as tea caddies. Korean tea cups where preferred by Sen no Rikyu due to its simplicity.

  • Iji
  • Mishima
  • Kaki-no-heta
  • Kinsan
  • Ido
  • Gōki
  • Goshō Maru
  • Totoya
  • Katade Komogai
  • Kohiki
  • Amamori
  • Hagame
  • Sōhaku
  • Gohon
  • Tamagote
  • Sōba
  • Unkaku
  • Wari-kodai
  • Iraho


Wamono (和物) indicates everything traditional Japanese respectively everything produced in Japan. In case of chawan it refers to Japanese styles.

Wamono chawan can be detailed into origin and kiln:

Tenmoku chawan
  • Karatsu
  • Asahi
  • Oku-gorai
  • Iga
  • Hagi
  • Seto (瀬戸)
  • Setoguro (瀬戸黒)
  • Izumo
  • Shigaraki
  • Oribe (織部)
  • Shonzui
  • Genpin
  • Shino (志野)
  • Satsuma
Raku (kiln)

Raku also known as Raku-Yaki (楽焼).

  • Chojiro I
  • Kōetsu
  • Nonko

See also

External links