Mar 6, 2009

Why 5 pieces set in Japan?

Wakasa Chopsticks

Imari Chopsticks Rests

Imari Green tea cups

Imari Sake cups

I got a question from my customer why most Japanese wares are in 5 pieces?

I investigated it and found three reasons as follows.

1. Japanese prefer odd numbers rather than even numbers. We have celebrations on Jan. 1st, March 3rd, May 5th and July 7th. But, we do not have any holidays on Feb. 2nd, Apr. 4th and June 6th…
2. 4 is considered a bad luck number and is connected with “death”.
3. Asymmetrical is good in a tea ceremony. 3 and 5 is better than 4 and 6.

In China, a table is set to mark the 4 points of the compass. They believe it is good luck. Therefore, Chinese ware comes in a set of 4.

It was an interesting story for me. I appreciated my customer giving me a chance to investigate.


Indra said...


Anonymous said...

isn't feb 2nd setsubun no hi?

sparris said...

So what happens if you break one teacup in a set of five? Do you break one more to get 3? Or throw out the whole set?

Yutaka said...

Indra: Hello to you too!

Anon: It's Feb. 3rd.

sparris: Get another whole set. The new one will be used for guests and the old one will be used for daily use.

Thanks, Yutaka

Bed and Breakfast said...

Does this set always go in five pieces? Is the number significant or it has some meaning with it.