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Traditional Japanese Wooden Lacquer Rice Bowl

Diner E scored this Traditional Japanese Wooden Lacquer Rice Bowl for a SONG from the neighborhood thrift store, which if you look them up online, sell anywhere from $75 and up and are quite rare to find, where as you know, everything nowadays are made of plastic.

Its construction is solid wood with a very thick and glossy, hard lacquer finish, however I’m not sure what kind of wood or how they shape it, nor could I find any online resources on it (sure wish I could read Japanese). Perhaps spun on a lathe? Hand-carved? Its Japanese name is Komebitsu, which is a general term for containers designed to store cooked rice. Note, not to be eaten out of directly, but as a table serving vessel that everyone takes from.

This particular Komebitsu is quite large, easily having enough capacity to store 5 cups of cooked rice, with room to probably fit about 3 more cooked cups. However they do come in various other sizes.

Its measurements are 10½” diameter at the widest outside point x 5-3/8″ total height from base to top of lid. While the inside opening measures 8.5″ diameter x 4½” height from base to rim of the container. The walls are about 5/8″ thick, so it has quite some substance and thermal retention ability.

It’s believed the natural wood and lacquer extends the shelf life at room temperature for cooked foods, including rice, more so than what plastic could ever offer. The lid doesn’t seal airtight, but allows the rice to “breath”, yet still sealed enough to retain moisture in the rice. A perfect environment of climate control for cooked rice.

You can see there how the condensation from the steam of the jus-cooked Gen Ji Mai rice stayed “trapped” under the ceiling of the lid, which perhaps is a natural regulator of the rice’s moisture level. Then again, perhaps you’re not supposed to put the rice in while it’s still steaming hot, but should let it cool to room temp’ before placing it in the bowl. Or otherwise leave it uncovered to cool first.

I remember our family having a whole set of these growing up, though don’t know where it went. Diner E remembers whenever his aunties would bring rice, it would always be in a Komebitsu.

These Japanese wood lacquer bowls are definitely hard to come by nowadays – at least here in Honolulu – and also evasive as far as online information. If I could read Japanese, I’d probably be able to find some websites that talk more about it.  If you know more about it, by all means let us know!

P.S. Speaking of figure-friendly Gen Ji Mai rice, time for today’s weigh-in…

Pomai’s “Revolution 2012″ weight log**
5.05.12 – 207.0 lbs.
5.27.12 – 195.8 lbs.
6.02.12 – 194.6 lbs.
6.03.12 – 194.0 lbs.
6.09.12 – 191.4 lbs.
6.16.12 – 188.6 lbs.
6.23.12 – 189.8 lbs.
6.30.12 – 188.5 lbs.
7.05.12 – 187.5 lbs.
7.22.12 – 183.0 lbs.
8.27.12 – 180.9 lbs. (BMI score = 26.5)
Total weight loss: 26.1 lbs.

Final target weight – 160 lbs.
**5’9″ height, male.

I’m still working on my coverage of the 4th Annual Up in Smoke Cook-Off. In the mean time, here’s a photo of yours truly with Chef Russell Siu of 3660 on the Rise, who we were on the same team of judges (10 judges total) for the competition…

Chef Russell Siu (3660 on the Rise) and Pomai Souza (TastyIslandHawaii.com) serve as judges for the 4th Annual Up in Smoke Smoked Meat Competition at Aloha Stadium, Saturday, August 18, 2012

I think when I reach 170 lbs. most of the extra “thickness” on my face should go away. I look better in person than in pictures anyway. lol And yes, I’m still on my “meatless” diet (only eat seafood and mostly veggies), however did make an exception to judge this cook-off event. I just ran a couple extra miles the next day. Really.

Here’s a group photo of the entire panel of judges…

2012 4th Annual Up in Smoke Cook-Off panel of judges: (left to right front row) Nadine Kam – Food Critic Star-Advertiser, Lanette Lopez – Merchant Marines Chef for 20 years, (left to right back row) Craig Nagano (with son Kyle in front) – Innovative Foods Business Owner, Russell Siu – 3660 on the Rise Executive Chef & Owner, Pomai Souza – TastyIslandHawaii.com Food Blogger & Owner, Manolo Morales – KHON2 Newscaster, Morgan LaRue – SR&M Project Manager, Steve Akana – H&W Foods Sales Manager, Kimo Vares – Skidsteers Business Owner, Gary Ishimoto – Diamond Head Seafoods General Manager


8 thoughts on “Traditional Japanese Wooden Lacquer Rice Bowl

  • August 29, 2012 at 10:27 am

    Mom got one and great for rice in it. I now go to KCC night market on Tue 4-7pm and found a gread soup stand 3 Ladels. On diet off and on and see soups great for diet.

  • August 29, 2012 at 4:45 pm

    I have one of those at home, passed down from my grandma. I never knew they were so expensive! We always use it to serve rice but I never knew why. Thanks for the info!

    • August 29, 2012 at 10:10 pm

      Actually I was hoping my readers would be the ones to share more info’ passed on from parents and grandparents (issei, nisei, sansei), as I couldn’t find much online, and I’m not Japanese (except by heart).

      It’s certainly one of them “lost art” pieces of the culture and history, easy to overlook, and underappreciated.

      • August 30, 2012 at 9:43 am

        Since I am yonsei a lot of the cultural traditions brought over from Japan are lost on me. Unfortunately my grandparents have since passed so I can’t ask about the particular komebitsu that was passed down to me. After reading this though, I will probably ask my mom (who would know more than me) about ours.

        • August 30, 2012 at 4:37 pm

          Imagine how many heirlooms such as this are either donated to thrift stores and charity or even tossed in the trash. The person who got rid of this probably thought it was some worthless or useless bowl.

          My sister has an heirloom Poi Pounder passed on from generations of family on my Hawaiian side, handed down from my late grandmother. When you look at, you can tell it’s OLD. I’ll get a photo and post it one day.

  • January 23, 2014 at 12:47 pm

    My Parents purchased this exact bowl when they were living in Hawaii from Aug. 1961 until Aug. 1964. I still have it and use it to serve rice when entertaining. It comes with a matching rice scoop which your picture is missing. Great display piece.

  • July 3, 2015 at 3:03 pm

    ive been on the look out for a small one if anyone has one…….


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