Category Archives: Cups Drink and Barware

Somayaki ( Ōbori Sōma-yaki) or Soma Ware: Pottery from Japan

Japan is known as one of the places that can date its pottery tradition to the Neolithic era (the last part of the Stone Age and before the Copper / Bronze Age).

In fact, the oldest known evidence of pottery making in the world can be found in Japan, as well as Korea and southern China.

I am continuing to add pottery objects to my Etsy store, and enjoying the research aspect of this process, especially delving into and learning about the different and distinct styles of my pottery finds.

You can click on the photo to see the listing on my Etsy store


I recently listed Somayaki or “Soma Ware” double-wall pottery and found the story about these objects so interesting, especially that it was made in the Fukushima area of  Japan.

Below is what I learned and the information posted for my Soma Ware listings.

Soma-yaki  is a style of pottery that started over 300 years ago in Fukushima, Northern Japan, on the island of Honshu.

Among the characteristics that makes Somayaki pottery unique is its double wall, or multiple layer construction.

This clever design helps to insulate the pottery’s contents and keeps hot liquids hot, while the outer layer remains cool to touch.


It is actually two pieces of pottery that are joined together — and you can see the inner layer through the heart cutouts on the photographs for this listing.

Another unique feature of this style of pottery are the galloping horse motif  — painted on one side of this teapot I listed…

You can click on this photo to see the listing on my Etsy store

As well as inside, and at the bottom of the bowl I listed…


According to the website (Yoshikawa Toki Co.) located in Choshi, Japan and specializing in Japanese pottery and porcelain,  the galloping horse motiff is known as “Hashirigoma”.

From the website…

The origin of the motif is the subject of much speculation, but there can be no doubt that it is related to Soma’s long history of horse handling ( the “ma” in Soma actually means “horse”).

….The galloping horse motif is painted on Somayaki following the tradition of the Kano School of Painting, one of the most prominent and respected schools of art in Japan.”

P1310772Along with the double-wall construction and the horse motif, Somayaki pottery is also distinct in its use of green colors and crackle glaze.

Again, from

“Aohibi” is the name given to the distinctive blue crackled glaze seen on most Somayaki ware.

A combination of these three distinctive features combine to create warm, rustic pieces imbued with a sense of history and peculiar to the area in which they are produced.

Tea pot lid with distinctive heart shaped cutouts (rim painted gold) aand scroll patterns

I also read that the scrolls seen on the pottery and the heart-shaped cut outs are to emulate wading birds, with the heart shape symbolizing the bird’s feet.

You may remember the March, 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, and subsequent disaster at the Fukushima nuclear power facility.

Sadly, the village where Soma-yaki pottery is made had to be evacuated due to its proximity to the nuclear power plant.

I did not find any other information aside from what was on the Artistic Nippon website, and they noted that the kilns were damaged during the earthquake.

It seems that unless the families and craftspeople who created this unique pottery are able to re-establish elsewhere, these objects may not be made in the quantity before the Fukushima disaster.  A website that previously sold Soma Ware teapots in the U.S. lists the items as “out of stock”, and no information when they will be available.

Some of the Soma Ware pottery we see here in the U.S were brought back by Americans who served at military bases in Japan and Okinawa while in the Armed Forces.

It also appears that the San Francisco-based import company Otagiri imported these types of pottery from Japan to the U.S., as I’ve seen listings of this style pottery with Otagiri origins.

By the way, if you happen upon this post and have information on the pottery photographed for this post, I would appreciate it (please comment or send me an email at MyMarketTales@Gmailcom).

In particular, about the stamp on these pieces (the photo below is from the bottom, and the inner layer of the bowl I listed) and if the type of blue “Made in Japan” sticker gives a clue as to the date that the items were crafted.

P1310852aWas this post helpful to you?  I’d love to know 🙂 …

Related Links:

Quote from Asia Art on Modern Japan Ceramics

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Vintage stoneware soup cups, chili bowls

The Labor Day 2015 holiday was last week…officially known as the end of summer here in the U.S.

Before we know it, the weather will  cool down, and we begin to think about mugs of hot chocolate, home made soups cooked slow and with lots of love, as well as our favorite chili recipes.

Do you have a favorite cup to use in the winter, or do you use the same cup year-round?  I tend to switch to a thicker mug to keep my coffee warm in the cooler weather.

I already had a nice variety of cups in my collection, and now that I have an Etsy store, I have even more cups!

I originally listed the cups for the store in the ‘Dining / tabletop section’ but then decided I should create a new category called Wine / Drink and Barware.  

I think it is better to house the cups in this category (and recently added an English “transferware” cup from England —see previous post for more) and separate from all the plates.

Today, I added a 3rd set of a particular style of vintage stoneware cups in the new section.  These cups are wide and can also be used for soup or as chili bowls.

P1310068This new listing features a set with this fun roadrunner image.

Actually, it’s hard not to call roadrunner images as “FUN” because it seems most roadrunner art depict them doing what they do — running — which I find amusing.

Roadrunners are native to the Southwestern deserts of the U.S. and Mexico.  Aptly named, they are quite quick, can run as fast as 20 miles per hour, and are one of few animals that prey on rattlesnakes.  Very cool birds!

These cup / bowls are unmarked, but very similar to 1980s era and earlier Otagiri cups.

I love the look and feel of these vintage, wide rim cups.

Here are other similar sets listed for the shop:

P1240877 A pair with a bright and simple flower power motif  (listed here on Etsy)

P1240803And this gorgeous blue hued pair with peacocks / peafowls which remind me of  art nouveau  styles (no longer available on the shop).

And speaking of chili recipes, I saw a segment of the Cook’s Country cooking show on PBS this weekend that showcased a Colorado Green Chili recipe.

We usually make red chili with beef, but this recipe looked amazing, using pork, 2 lbs of Anaheim peppers and 2 jalapeno peppers.  They added the jalapeno to approximate the taste of Hatch or New Mexico chile peppers.

One of my favorite food to eat is Chile Relleno, which is often made with Anaheim peppers in place of the ‘poblano’ type peppers, and so already, I was intrigued and ended up watching the entire episode.

Colorado Chili Recipe Cooks Country
Colorado Green Chili photo via Cook’s Country website

It will definitely be one that I will try out during these cooler autumn months.  If you want to try it too, the recipe can be accessed through this link (you do have to register with the Cooks Country website).

What is your household’s favorite chili recipe?  The more traditional red chili or do you have favorite, more unusual chili recipe?

Does it matter to you what cup or bowl you use, or do you have special mugs for hot chocolate, or special soup and chili bowls?

Updated 12/1/2015 with photos of the Hull USA Pottery vintage chili bowls I recently listed on the shop.

P1370085 Love this bowl and plate set!

Click on the photos to see the listing on Etsy.  The plate / chili bowl set and the single chili cup listed separately.


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