Seyei Pearl Rice Service Set

Credit for this post goes to Ruth.

As a young bride, we were stationed in Camp Zama, Japan from 1960-1964 and I worked with the buyers at the Base Exchange in Atsugi Naval Air Station. The set in the images above has a wonderful story behind it. This set is totally hand made and there were only 6 men who knew the art. It took 1 man 3 months to make one set, and you had to put your order in as soon as you arrived because the waiting list took that long. We were there over 3 years.

The rice leaves were hand carved and it has 9 glaze coatings and finished with 24 k gold trim. If you notice, no 2 plates are exactly the same — they are not machine cut. The story goes that the artisans were POW’s brought back from a war (China?). They were never sent back home. The younger generation did not want to learn the skill. You may find the pearl rice pattern in items coming from China, but they are not hand carved. The cost: I paid $112 at the Exchange.

Also notice that the stamp on the back is gold–the highest quality of porcelain–the more colors on the stamp, the lower the quality of the porcelain. At the same time, the Noritake sets, including napkin rings and complete tea service, were selling for $45. On our way to our new duty station we stopped at my parent’s house. My uncle had just purchased the same Noritake set for his wife for $250. The buyer at the exchange had received a newspaper clipping from New York City, the only vendor in the U.S., and the set in the images above was selling for $600.

Years ago I tried to follow through to find the value and wondered if maybe I could sell it to someone in Japan who would appreciate the history, but I hit a blank wall. The Embassy was only able to find out that the company no longer exists. I would really like to return mine to Japan, maybe a museum. Now that I am retired and a widow, I have the time to try again.

Images posted by SuzieBBB

So... what do you think? Please leave me a comment.


  • Serene4848: Hello SuzieBB!
    I too was stationed in Camp Zama as a young woman in 1994-1998 (husband was a civil service physician). Loved our stay there and had our 2nd child there!
    I loved your story and hope you have received some type of helpful response. I agree, it would be wonderful to return the service back to it’s origin where it could be appreciated.
    I only have 1 remaining contact there....a physician and his Japanese family on Camp Zama. He has lived there since the 80’s. If for some reason you do not get any response I could give you his contact information and maybe his Japanese wife could be of some assistance.
    Take care,
  • Marra M: Hi Serene, you can connect directly with Ruth by following this link. Since she is not a member you cannot send her private messages.
    SusieBB is credited for the photos, although she might have her own story to tell. You can send her a private message since like you she is a member here. Just click on the envelope near her name.
  • Cathie W: Hello! As an Army Brat I lived in Yokohama, Japan in the mid-60’s. I really did enjoy reading about this china from you! The story makes the set that I have even more special. (I am going to copy it to put with my set so my girls will know it’s history.)
    I did not discover this gorgeous china pattern until about 5 years ago at an estate resale shop. It is a complete 12 place setting and I fell instantly in love with it and snapped it up. My family has enjoyed many special dinners using the china and I would love to extend the number of services because our family keeps growing and this grandma loves serving everyone on these greatly appreciated place settings. One can always dream. Honestly, I do believe that my daughters will be fighting over who gets this when I pass on.
  • Marra M: Hi Cathie :)
    You can post this interest to buy under the Artifacts Marketplace. However, you need to register as member. Registration is for free. Don’t forget to post the photos.
    This way you can reach out to potential buyers. It would be better to sign up as member so that you can make use of the PM or private messaging facility in this site. I also ran across this

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