How to Get a Handle on a Yunomi

Well, you don’t get a handle on a yunomi… Because there are no handles on a yunomi. Sorry for that joke.

Traditionally there are no handles on Japanese pottery. This is yet another thing that attracts me to many of their pots. Over the last year, I have found that I don’t like handles. I have never put a handle onto a vessel and felt like it improved the look of it (tea pots being the exception, of course).

First of all, what is a yunomi? While a chawan, described in a previous post, is meant to be used in an elaborate tea ceremony with powdered matcha tea, a yunomi is designed for everyday use. Also a yunomi is always taller than it is wide, unlike the more squat tea bowl.

Chawan vs Yunomi

As you can see there are no handles on either, so how is it possible to drink hot liquid without a handle? There are a few different techniques. If the cup isn’t filled all the way to the top, then you can grip the rim and the foot to keep from being scalded, as seen above.

Or, if the tea isn’t too hot, you can hold the cup in one hand and cradle the bottom of the cup with the other so that you can enjoy the warmth of the tea.

A yunomi by Mark Wilhelm

Traditionally, in Japan, the best tea is green tea which is brewed and served at a lower temperature than most other teas. Green tea is served at 158 degrees fahrenheit, whereas most teas are served in water that is just below boiling, 212 degrees fahrenheit. As a result, by not having a handle on the teacup, a guest could immediately tell they were being served the best quality tea.

I am currently spending a lot of time in the studio making both chawan and yunomi. More details about where these will be available is coming soon!

-Mark Wilhelm

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