Dinner for Five: Japanese Serving Dishes for Elegant Meals

March 4, 2001 – October 21, 2001

Freer Gallery of Art
Jefferson Drive and 12th Street, SW
Washington, DC

Gallery 6A Floor Plan

This small exhibition presents ceramic dishes used for "kaiseki," a light meal that originated in the Japanese tea ceremony but later also flourished in the context of stylish restaurants. Tablewares for this meal developed into a major category of Japanese ceramics production beginning in the late 16th century. Since the custom was to invite guests in groups of five or multiples of five for tea, this became the standard number in a set of kaiseki tableware. These dishes were often decorated with seasonal themes, using colors that enhanced the food that was to be served. On view are a set of ten Arita ware dishes for sashimi with their storage box, as well as Oribe, Shino, Utsutsugawa, Kyoto, and Nabeshima ware dishes and dishes made in the Kenzan style. A set of mismatched dishes illustrates the mixing and matching of surviving pieces from broken sets to make a harmonious whole.