‘Chawan’ is a collective noun for the ceramics used to serve meals.
In many countries, dishes serve for anyone indifferently. Though in Japan, basic pieces of dishes – such as plates, bowls, cups, and so on, except large serving dishes and plates – are personalized. When a family takes meals, each of the family members uses their own chawan.
The size of chawan is prepared to match the user
The big daddy would need a bigger portion to eat so that his set shall be a larger one. Mother’s could be secondly large. For small kids, the smaller ones will be provided, according to their age and sex. Of course, for grown-up kids, the size of their sets would perhaps exceed their father’s.
This custom might be a clever help to remind the proper dietary amount for each family member which leads to a healthy eating habit. It would also work to encourage users to take good care of their own sets.
However, this custom does not apply to visitors.
Sets of the general size of chawan will be used for guests and visitors, no need to indicate the ‘proper portion’ for them.
A pair of chawan set for wife and husband is especially called ‘Meoto-jawan’ – chawan for wife and husband. It could be a pair of teacups or rice bowls. They are the same shape and design but only of different sizes to match each of them. Often a typical gift for the newly-wed couples.
how to use
Those who have been to Japanese restaurants would know that rice is served in a ceramic bowl, while miso-soup will be served in a wood curved bowl.
The bowl for miso-soup shall be placed on your right and the bowl for rice on your left. Chopsticks should be laid horizontally just in front of you.