The unglazed interior of this vessel suggests it was used as an ember pot (hiire) for lighting pipes. Tobacco arrived in Japan around the turn of the 17th century. Its earliest mention is in 1601 in a record of gifts from Spanish missionaries to the warrior, statesman and shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu (1542-1616). Pipes have been manufactured there ever since. During the Edo period, smoking was an important part of social life. The rims of ember pots are often worn, as in this case, for smokers struck them while tapping spent tobacco from their metal-tipped pipes.