“THE RICE BOWL”, designed by Tokyo-based designer Keita Suzuki of Product Design Center, is a rice bowl that is designed to fit perfectly in the user’s hand. The standard form for the common rice bowl in Japan is of unknown origin and is said to have been established more than 400 years ago. What is known however is that the dimensions are derived from measurements of the human hand. Interestingly enough, modern design has revisited ergonomics in the pursuit of ‘good design’.

The 12 centimeter diameter of the rice bowl is derived from the average diameter of a Japanese person’s hand when a half-circle is made with the thumb and pointing finger. In other words, it is the perfect size that naturally fits in the hands of the user. The height is set at half the diameter, which is 6 centimeters. The ratio between the pointing finger and thumb when figured like a gun is said to be exactly 2:1. Therefore, this ratio creates the ideal relationship between the hand and the rice bowl.


In ancient times, the “Wan” bowl used to be called “Mari” (old Japanese term for ‘ball’).  The name is said to derive from the spherical shape of the bowl being denotative of a ball. Aside from the variations with differing shapes, the ‘ideal bowl’ is said to be one that creates a 4-sun (12 centimeter) sphere when two bowls are cupped together. In other words, the bowl measures to a diameter of 12 centimeters and 6 centimeters in height, resembling the same 2:1 ratio as “THE RICE BOWL”. Moreover, this 12-centimeter (4-sun) diameter is the common standard even amongst the multiple regions across Japan.


The measurement units such as “sun” that are embedded in the ancient history of Japan derive from measurements and proportions of the human body, collectively known as “Shindoshaku”. Ironically, with the countless iterations of re-design in the modern era, rice bowls are now sold in various shapes, sizes, and proportion to meet the demand of the mass, yet these traditional methods of measurement deriving from proportions of the human body have been lost in the process of standardization of measurement systems. However, Mr. Suzuki’s pursuit of designing the ideal rice bowl for THE, a brand that strives to create the quintessence of objects, had unintentionally become the restoration of an ancient design that had been forgotten over time.


“THE RICE BOWL” comes in five variations, manufactured in five different regions in Japan that are known for their distinct pottery styles. The theme shared amongst these collectible bowls is that they must be ‘white’. The definition of ‘white’ differs in all of these regions, which allows the user to fully enjoy each of the pottery styles. To further visualize the differences in each region the rice bowls are made with the same dimensions and thickness.

The five styles include Arita (Saga Prefecture), Kiyomizu (Kyoto Prefecture), Shigaraki (Shiga Prefecture), Seto (Aichi Prefecture), and Mashiko (Tochigi Prefecture).

“THE RICE BOWL” will be available from March at “THE SHOP” located in the Marunouchi KITTE department store; 5 minutes walk from Tokyo Station.


all images courtesy of PRODUCT DESIGN CENTER