Bean plates and Moominware: the world of Amabro

Your first thought for cool Japanese souvenirs isn’t likely to be pottery. Gotta save that hand luggage space for weird KitKat flavours and engraved chopsticks.

Okay, maybe you’ve seen bright red Hajiki vases in Nara, really old Bizen or Echizen cups, and world-famous Arita-style pieces. Fell in love with them at first sight. Then looked at the price tags and nearly passed out.

Cute, fun, way less expensive, and 100% Japanese pottery from Amabro could be the answer.

(All images in this post courtesy of Amabro’s website.)

“I’m a bro?”

Amabro’s been around for about 11 years. It’s part of Murakami Art, run by Amane Murakami. See, there’s more than one famous Japanese person called Murakami…

Every Japanese brand’s got a ‘concept’. Amabro went with “Restructuring expression”. Classic creations from various design genres, reinterpreted. Think of it like seeing your favourite anime redrawn by a different studio.

Fired Art Online

Everything’s made in Japan. And wow, can you tell. Trademark Japanese quality out in force.

Even the basic ‘New Standard’ range looks so carefully made. They’re not all that expensive, but they radiate quality. Otherwise ordinary mugs, plates and bowls that feel weirdly special.

The coffee drippers are a beautiful modern addition. Maybe we’re biased because we live on the stuff.

Amabro's classic dripper is even available in a coffee colour.

Talking of hot drinks… ever tried a Japanese tea ceremony?

We can’t guarantee using a traditional teapot would make you instantly good at it. Wouldn’t hurt to try, though. Long-standing Japanese style blends with influences from European design. The way that matcha powder mixes with hot water to make something seriously delicious.

A stainless steel strainer inside lets you brew whatever tea leaves you like.

And there are some gorgeous chawan tea bowls to match. You’ll always remember to turn the bowl before drinking, just to see the designs from every angle.

But the biggest attractions are the smallest pieces. Weirdly, Amabro’s pretty famous in Japan for ‘mamezara’ – bean plates. Tiny bowls and dishes… for beans. Or other small things.

Each mamezara’s finished with precise gold details. We’d be scared of scratching them off by accident.

You can find Amabro mamezara shaped like mountains, or fans, or turtles. All made with crazy detail and finishes on a tiny scale. They’ve been described as ‘the bonsai of plates ’.

Two brands are better than one…?

Japan loves limited edition collaboration goods. You see them everywhere. And I wish we knew why! So it’s zero surprise to find several past and present Amabro collabs.

The Amabro x Moomin plates aren’t the kind you’d eat off. Alright, you can, but would you dare? Put it this way, we didn’t see ‘dishwasher safe’ written on the back of these.

Some are made in the gorgeous Kutani-yaki pottery style. Those colours.

The Moomin plate range mimics several sub-styles of Kutani ware. The ‘old’ look’s vivid green, red, blue, purple and yellow. We can’t imagine Snufkin in any other colours. The ‘red’ style is, well… red. With hints of orange and yellow mixed in. Perfect for Little My.

If it were possible (or sane) to be in love with a plate, we would be.

And next to it, the blue/white set’s so ‘willow pattern’ it hurts. These aren’t Kutani, they’re Sometsuke style. “Underglazed in cobalt blue”. We feel like the blue brings out the pure whiteness of Moomins.

Moomins have apparently been popping up on Amabro pottery since 1945. The Sometsuke line’s been around since at least 2013. That’s a lotta Moomin. The most hardcore collectors have probably moved house a couple times.

Put more cartoons in your kitchen with the ‘Dick Bruna – Miffy’ series. Weird how a bunch of Amabro’s collabs are with characters that don’t have mouths. Will it be Hello Kitty next? Wooser? Yuki Nagato? Kakashi?

We’re not sure what’s best to eat off a Miffy-shaped plate, either. Can’t get a spoon into those ears.

They’ve got a lot on their plate right now

Amabro does way more stuff than we’ve covered. And a lot of it’s not even ceramics. Baby bibs and toys, peg boards, greeting cards, novelty cushions, plant pots… Decorate a whole room around your favourite bean plate.

Buy Japanese pottery online and there’s way less chance of being distracted by KitKats. Amabro’s delivery options are within Japan, but we can help you with that.

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