• Japanese: 土器 (kawarake)

Kawarake are simple round earthenware dishes, used for a variety of purposes. They were in particular used for saké exchanges between medieval samurai lords during a process of sizing up one another's status or hierarchical power relative to the other; after the exchange of drinks, the plates would be broken.

Such dishes are found (albeit most often in pieces) in incredible numbers at medieval sites such as Ichijôdani. Yet because of their simplicity, and perhaps because of their incredible number (i.e. lack of rarity) they are very rarely collected or shown in major museums.


  • Morgan Pitelka, "Reading Medieval Ruins: A Material History of Urban Life in 16th-Century Japan," talk given at University of Michigan, Feb 20, 2020.[1]