Wooden soup bowls, Hand carved wooden bowls, Meibokuwan Sonobe

Wooden soup bowls Meibokuwan from Sonobe

Meibokuwan, simple and beautiful wooden soup bowls

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[Sonobe]Meibokuwan / Chinese soup spoon

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What is Meibokuwan from Sonobe?

Meibokuwan from Sonobe is a simple rounded wooden soup bowl.
Sonobe is a woodworking studio in Odawara city of Kanagawa prefecture. Since its release, this hand carved wooden bowl has been a long-selling item.

In Japanese, “Meibokuwan” consists of “Meiboku” + “Wan.” Meiboku is wood which has appreciative value, not just lumber.
Japan Design Store introduces a kind of Meiboku “Beech.” Beech has beautiful wooden grain and smooth texture. So, the beech wooden soup bowls suit our hands gently. We can feel the warmth of natural material from the rims of the wooden bowls.

Natural hand carved wooden bowls suit Japanese miso soup or broth. In addition, simple wooden bowls suit corn soup or chowder. If you like Nordic design or tableware, these wooden soup bowls are perfect with those tableware.

Hand carved wooden bowls Meibokuwan and wooden china spoons

Story of finding stylish wooden soup bowls

Let us introduce a story of finding Meibokuwan from Sonobe.

Japan Design Store applies criteria of selection as “Modern crafts that suit contemporary life.” There are all sorts of tableware in the world, but few pass this criteria at the first sight.

In addition, we only select the products which pass these 4 bases; “Made in Japan, High quality, Good design, Rarity.” So, we always take a lot of time to find new products.

Above all, we had rough going to find ceramic rice bowls and wooden soup bowls. Both items are indispensable for Japanese meal.
As for ceramic rice bowls, we finally found flat rice bowls from Hakusan Toki. However, we have not found the stylish wooden soup bowls.

In fact, Japan Design Store has stylish wooden soup bowls “AEKA” from Gato Mikio Store. But it is hard to get enough stocks for customers. Depends on time, it takes more than 6 months to be restocked. (So, do not miss the time we have stocks.)

In addition, AEKA is too stylish for children. It is very thin and slim.
As Japanese soup bowls, lacquered bowls may come upon your mind. Lacquered bowls are very beautiful Japanese bowl. But now, we would like to find wooden soup bowls for any kind of meal.

If you like lacquered bowls, we have beautiful soup bowls from WDH. Please see here!

Finally found it! Ideal wooden soup bowls

When we struggled to find wooden soup bowls, I (a buyer of Japan Design Store) met 2 old friends.

A man is a professor of a university where I graduated from. He is also a designer and an architect.
A woman is my friend. She knows well about Nordic design, worked at an architect office. Now, she is a mother of 2 children.
I met them respectively, but they gave same advice for me.
“Why doesn’t Japan Design Store sell Meibokuwan from Sonobe?”

My professor said, “Meibokuwan from Sonobe is a wooden soup bowl produced in Odawara city of Kanagawa prefecture. I believe the hand carved wooden bowls won Good Design Award. Actually, I have used Meibokuwan for 5 years.”

My friend said, “as for Japanese tableware, Azmaya and 1616/arita japan are good brands. As for Western-style tableware, Iittala is best. And for stylish wooden soup bowls, Meibokuwan from Sonobe is the first name. I use S size Meibokuwan as baby food for my children. I am considering getting another soup bowl now.”

It is my shame, but I did not know about Meibokuwan from Sonobe. Immediately, I examined the wooden soup bowls, and found that it cleared all criteria of selection.
I suggest the hand carved wooden bowls at the meeting in my office and got the approval.

I called Sonobe to establish relationship. They approved of our dealing. It took 2~3 months to get new wooden soup bowls, but we placed order.
And now, we can introduce the ideal wooden soup bowls to our customers.

Let us introduce this wonderful wooden soup bowl Meibokuwan!

So, wooden soup bowls Meibokuwan passed strict examination by a designer, a mother, and our buyer.
3 months after we placed order, we finally got stocks of Meibokuwan. Our staff said, “this wooden soup bowl has cute rounded form and smooth texture!”

These hand carved wooden bowls have Good design, Smooth texture, and Great usability. Why can’ t I find this much earlier!!

Then, please let us introduce the fascination of Meibokuwan of Sonobe.

Wooden soup bowls Meibokuwan and wooden china spoons

Every soup looks delicious in Meibokuwan

Wooden soup bowl Meibokuwan was invented in 1996 as a multiple-use wooden vessel. Natural hand varved wooden bowl suits every kind of meals.
Meibokuwan is finished with transparent coating. Therefore, it is easy to care.
Simple wooden soup bowl is a long-selling item of Sonobe.

Wooden soup bowls Meibokuwan have very simple form. Natural wooden bowls suit Japanese meal, lunch on a garden table in Switzerland, or café in Bali.
Wrap the wooden soup bowl with hands and eat soup. It is a relaxing time of a day.

Meibokuwan from Sonobe with stew

5 reasons of Meibokuwan’s popularity

Why this simple and natural wooden soup bowl has been loved for a long time?
In fact, there are lots of secrets in addition to design. Here, we would like to introduce 5 reasons of Meibokuwan’s popularity.

  1. Usability for every meal

    Smooth wooden soup bowls have great usability so that we would like to use it for every meal. Since it is made of wood, Meibokuwan is hard to be broken. Urethane coating makes the hand carved wooden bowls to be cared easily. We can wash the wooden bowls.

    In 2013, this wooden soup bowl Meibokuwan was used at a TV commercial. Japanese famous actor Shun Oguri used Meibokuwan for his miso soup. At that time, Sonobe got many inquiries.

    Wooden soup bowl Meibokuwan with miso soup
  2. Craftsmen turn and carve a wooden soup bowl one by one

    All the wooden soup bowls of Sonobe are handmade by craftsmen.
    First, thoroughly dry wood lumber of Japanese natural beech. In this way, moisture of wood leaves and wooden bowls become hard to transform.
    Then, craftsmen shave dried beech wood with wood turning lathe and chisels.

    It takes at least 6 months to produce a wooden soup bowl since Sonobe got beech wood.
    The curved line of Meibokuwan suits our hand. Rims of the bowls are thin for the easiness to drink. Whereas, the bottoms of the bowls are thick so that people can hold soup bowls with hot soup.
    Only skilled craftsmen can produce such a wooden bowl.

    Since all the wooden soup bowls are handmade, without molds, each Meibokuwan has slightly different form. However, all the hand carved bowls suit our hands.
    Please feel the warmth and comfortable texture of handicrafts.

    At the bottom of the wooden soup bowl, we can see a kanji “橅”. It is “Buna,” kanji for beech. As you can see from the picture, Meibokuwan does not consist of some parts, but it’s carved from a beech lumber. Craftsmen carefully shave and carve lumber to make a wooden bowl. It is the Japanese craftsmanship.

    Kanji of beech at the bottom of Meibokuwan
  3. 3 sizes for family

    Meibokuwan of Sonobe has 3 sizes, S, M, L.

    S bowl is good size for children. Also, mothers can use small wooden soup bowl for baby food.
    M and L bowls are suitable for couple. Some customers asked me “is M bowl for women?” I answered both M or L are okay.
    If you like to cook soup with a lot of ingredients, we recommend L size.

    Since the wooden soup bowls are made of natural wood, the bowls gain gloss and change their colors as time passes. At first beech has smooth white texture.
    You can enjoy the change of hand carved wooden bowls over the years with your family history.

    3 sizes of S, M and L Meibokuwan on the table
  4. Omnipotence for every meal

    Wooden soup bowls Meibokuwan have rounded form with low stand. Therefore, the wooden bowls can be used for soup and any other meals.

    For breakfast, put cereals and milk in a soup bowl.
    For lunch, put chowder or salad.
    For dinner, serve stew or miso soup.

    With the wooden china spoons made of beech, you can enjoy more natural table setting.

    Also, you can put nuts or snacks for your beer time.

  5. Not become hot with hot soup

    Wooden soup bowls, especially thick wooden bowls like Meibokuwan do not become hot with hot soup. We just feel a little warmth of soup. It is pleasant time to feel the warmth from wooden soup bowls.

    Since it has enough thickness, Meibokuwan is a little bit heavier than other wooden soup bowls. However, you can see its usability as you use.

    Wooden soup bowls gently tells warmth of soup

What is beech, the material of wooden soup bowls Meibokuwan?

Beech is a representative broad-leaved tree of Japanese temperate-zone forest.
Beech has fine grain and smooth texture. We can see small dots that are the feature of beech wood. The color of beech tree is light pinkish milk white.

As the time passes, beech wood changes its color, but does not become too dark. Also, the woodgrain of beech does not so differ from wood to wood. Therefore, beech is often used for Nordic home decors.

Beech is strong and elasticity. So, it has been used for furniture with bentwood work. Please use the wooden soup bowls for a long time at ease.

Features of wooden soup bowls

Meibokuwan from Sonobe is all handmade by craftsmen made of natural wood. Therefore, each wooden soup bowl has different wood grain, color, size or form. We are happy if those who can enjoy individualities of handicrafts get Meibokuwan.

Also, some items have dark brown lines on the surface. It is not inferior goods, but a feature of natural wood. Please note that we cannot meet your demand for colors or wood grain of hand carved wooden bowls.

Dark lines inside the wooden soup bowl

Some of Meibokuwan has slight unsteadiness at the bottom. In addition, some items have small dents. Those dents are caused when craftsmen set wooden bowls on the lathe. However, there is no problem for using.

Meibokuwan is coated with urethane. If you care about the smell of coating, put the wooden soup bowls at well-ventilated place for a few days. The smell will be taken away.
For the virgin use of Meibokuwan, please do not pour hot soup immediately. Instead, pour lukewarm water, leave it for 2~3 minutes, and discard the water. Wooden soup bowl become get used of hot soup by this process.

What is Sonobe, a studio of producing Meibokuwan?

Sonobe is a woodworking studio in Odawara city in Kanagawa prefecture. Their business is “producing wooden vessels and tools from lumber to finishing.” Their work is consistent.
Their business started in 1930s. In 1974, Sonobe wood working studio was established. At that time, they exported wooden salad bowls to the Europe or the United States.

In 1990s, they start to produce daily necessities for Japan. In 1996, wooden soup bowls Meibokuwan won Good Design Award.
From 1999, elementary schools in Odawara city have used wooden soup bowls of Sonobe for their school lunch.

Let us introduce a comment from Mr. Sonobe.

Odawara city of Kanagawa prefecture is at the foot of Hakone Izu Tanzawa mountain. From old times, there are a lot of casting studio or blacksmith’s workshops in Odawara. Both work need rich lumbers to produce cutting tools.

During the era of samurai, demand for arms or armors of samurai rose. So, woodturners and lacquerer showed their skills.
Odawara became a post town in Edo era (about 1600~1800). Woodworking such as Odawara lacquerware or Hakone woodworking became the biggest industry of Odawara area.

Odawara lacquerware and Hakone woodworking had been prosperous before 1990s. However, this local industry faces structural crisis from shorthandedness, difficulty of inheriting skills, or dynamic change of economics.

It is a hard time for us. However, we would like to keep Japanese beautiful woodwork in reasonable price. We use some machines. But as a manufacturer, we do consistent woodworking from wood lumber to finishing. We try to mass-produce in certain amount. In this way, we believe we can keep the reasonable price as well as keeping Japanese handicrafts.

We, craftsmen, successors, and staff will devote ourselves to produce beautiful Japanese woodwork.
We aim to produce high-quality crafts for your comfortable use in daily life. With our energy, we would like to send various woodwork made of various wood to you.

Every time we visit Sonobe, Mrs. Sonobe rushes for us from the woodturning studio.
Among various woodwork of Sonobe, wooden soup bowls Meibokuwan have been especially popular. If Sonobe consigns producing of Meibokuwan to a company in other countries, they can explore their business. However, they pursue Japanese wood and produce hand carved wooden bowls sincerely.

Also, surplus production cause surplus lumbering. Japanese woodwork may disappear from this world.

Therefore, when the wooden soup bowls Meibokuwan become out of stock, it takes a few months to get restock.
Sonobe is a studio living with Japanese wood with firm principle in the era of mass production and mass consumption.

Pile up 3 sizes of Meibokuwan bowls

Natural wooden soup bowls would be great gifts!

Simple, natural and usable wooden soup bowls would be great presents. For friends who like Nordic design, for wife who likes wooden tableware, or for husband who likes miso soup! Japanese high-quality tableware sends happiness.

Japan Design Store original gift sets of Meibokuwan

Wooden soup bowls have been popular for wedding gifts, housewarming gifts or new baby gifts. So, Japan Design Store makes original gift sets.
Sets with different size bowls, with wooden china spoons, or forks, and more!

Japan Design Store directly have dealing with Sonobe, so we can make our original gift sets.
In addition, we make unique sets with products of other brands with Meibokuwan. Please choose the best sets for you.

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For your long use at ease

  • Meibokuwan from Sonobe has beautiful wood grain of natural wood. Since the wooden soup bowls are made of natural wood, each bowl has different color, wood grain, or lines. Please note that all bowls passed criteria of quality by Sonobe. We cannot meet your demand for colors of wood grain of hand carved wooden bowls.
    We are happy if those who can enjoy individualities of handicrafts get Meibokuwan.

Caring tips

  • * Wooden soup bowls are coated with urethan. NOT microwave, dishwasher and dish dryer safe.
  • * After use, wash with soft cloth or sponge with water or lukewarm water. Do not rub hard to keep coating. You can use neutral detergent for tableware but cannot use cleanser.
  • * Keep the wooden bowls away from direct sunlight or hot place like the side of microwave oven. Heat causes loss of color, warp, transformation, or crack of wooden bowls.
  • * Wooden bowls may become warped if you pour hot water of 100℃ (about 212℉) because remaining moisture (10~15%) in wooden bowls evaporate by extremely hot water. Once remaining moisture evaporates, it is hard to regain moisture since the wooden bowls are coated with urethan. By any chance the wooden bowls get warped, it will return to as it was naturally by 6 months. Please avoid soaking wooden soup bowls into hot water or water for a long time.
  • * Please note that all bowls passed criteria of quality by Sonobe.
  • * All the products are handmade by traditional craftsmen. Please enjoy different individualities of each product.

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