TOKYO - They're called mamezara, literally tiny dishes. And they're becoming a thing.
Sure, they were meant to hold food or condiments, but people are finding a whole lot more uses for the miniature works.
"I have plenty of them," said Rie, a fashion designer in her 30s. "When I find a nice small plate in a restaurant, I even ask where I can buy it." She then follows through and indulges her fascination.
Rie is fond of Japanese cuisine, which led her to begin collecting mamezara and other Japanese tableware about 10 years ago. Her collection now fills a tall cabinet in her dining room. She has more than 50 kinds of them, some bought at ceramic exhibitions and some purchased while traveling.
They give her an outlet for some creative expression. As she prepares a meal, she's thinking about colour coordination -- about how she will dress her table. For pink Japanese pickles, she might think to herself, "these would go well with a white dish."
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