Imari ware soba choko (soba noodle dipping cup) from the mid-late Edo period (1600-1868.) Porcelain with underglaze cobalt blue painting of trees and grasses. The tree is perhaps a "yanagi" (willow tree.) H.5.25cm (2.125") x Dia.7cm(2.75"). Weight 107g. A small chip on the rim has been repaired using kintsugi technique utilizing synthetic gold and lacquer.
Soba choko were originally used for small morsels of food much like the mukozuke or ko-zara are used in today's Japanese place setting. It was not until later in the Edo Period that they were made specifically for use as noodle dipping cups, as "soba" noodles became a popular urban dish. They can still be used to elegantly serve soba or somen noodles, food as a mukozuke dish food or any small food serving, and they are also excellent as tea cups.