Mamezara are a bit like the bonsai of plates. Miniature bonsai trees are grown in small pots, and mamezara are tiny plates that hold small servings of food or condiments. Although these tiny dishes were originally meant to said hold food or condiments, people are now beginning to find several uses for these miniature works in their daily life.
Mamezara are dishes that often measure from 6 cm to 10 cm in diameter. These tiny dishes were originally produced in the southern Hizen region of Japan (modern day Saga and Nagasaki prefectures). It is said that the region is home to the very famous Imari and Arita porcelain traditions. This tableware also became popular during the Edo period (1603-1867). Today, some collectors think that mamezara, like fashion, provide an avenue for creative expressions as people have to think how the color of food is coordinated with the color, shape and design of the tableware.
Unlike other expensive collector’s items, mamezara are easy to collect because the cost of these tiny saucers ranges between 1,000 yen to 3,000 yen. Some can even be bought at a 100-yen shop. However, for mamezara fanatics, there is a popular shop called Amabro. This shop offers various designs of mamezara which mixes traditional Japanese taste with Moomin characters. One of the signature mameraza items of the shop is the Arita-ware mamezara series which was launched in 2006. For those who are interested about mamezara you can browse Amabro here for more details.
Mamezara is often used every day in the household for sauces, leftovers, and small servings of side dishes. The animal illustrations on mamezara such as rabbits and elephants provide an attractive visual that can also help boost children’s appetite during meal time. But, these cute and stylish plates are not only confined to the dining area. Some women use these tiny dishes to organize their jewelry instead of using trinket boxes. Some people also put their loose change and keys in these small plates. The beautiful Japanese traditional patterns painted onto mamezara are also used as an accent when decorating homes.
Do you have any mamezara or something similar in your home? What do you use them for?