If you are looking for a gift related to Japanese cuisine, chopsticks are an ideal choice for foreign tourists. Small and compact, chopsticks are very difficult to break, even if they get loose in you luggage, and make excellent souvenirs.
Chopsticks are talismans that have tied humans to the gods since ancient times when they were given as gifts to ward off evil spirits. An important tool closely associated with Japan, chopsticks are one of the lacquer ware arts the country takes enormous pride in. At the Hashi(Chopsticks) Gallery Mon, we have gathered chopsticks from a great many regions, crafted in different shapes and with varied materials. In addition to over 1,500 varieties, we offer seasonal chopsticks rests, bowls, and other Japanese-style accessories. You can experience the culture and customs of Japanese cuisine though chopsticks. Whether you are looking for a gift or for yourself, we'll help you find the perfect pair.
- How to Choose Chopsticks
- Proper Chopsticks Etiquette
- Chopsticks Taboos
- How to Care for Chopsticks
How to Choose the Right Chopsticks for You
(i.e. chopsticks that are easy to use)
When you make an arrow at a right angle with the thumb and index finger of your dominant hand, the length between your thumb and index finger is called the hitoata. Chopsticks that are roughly 1.5 times this length are appropriate.
13 cm for two year olds
18cm for 3rd and 4th year elementary school children
Length will depend on individual preference of course, and since it must be balanced with the thickness you should treat this only as a rough guide.
Chopsticks thickness is related to the thickness of your fingers and hands. In general, people with thick fingers do best with thick chopsticks, and those with slender fingers with thin ones. In addition to selecting your chopsticks by ease of use, you can also by design or appearance, how the sticks look in your hands. For example, women may prefer to use slender chopsticks because they appear more elegant between their fingers.
Chopsticks Tip Shapes
Chopsticks tips come in many styles and shapes. From multi-sided to grooved, they are designed to prevent food from slipping off. Here are some of the most common tip shapes.
- Angled Tip :
- The chopsticks tip is beveled and the sides are designed to catch and hold food, making it more difficult for items to slip off. Nearly all noodle chopsticks are made in this style, though in some cases the ends will be polished.
- Marked Tip :
- Tiny indentations are randomly whittled into the ends up until the tip of the chopsticks. This helps to grip food and prevent slipping. Most of these are finished off with a polish.
- Lacquer :
- After the chopsticks are covered with a varnish, a dry, powdered lacquer is applied. The sticks are then polished and sharpened, but the face is finished with a rough outer layer, which prevents slipping.
Some chopsticks are entirely covered in lacquer, while others have only their tips treated. In addition to preventing food from slipping off, lacquer strengthens the structure of the stick, improving its long-term durability.
Lacquered Chopsticks and Wooden Chopsticks
- [Advantages of Lacquered Chopsticks]
When the lacquer is carefully applied, the face is smooth and the tips have a pleasant taste. Lacquered chopsticks also resist dirt very well, and always maintain their fresh appearance.
- [Advantages of Wooden Chopsticks]
These chopsticks retain the warmth of natural wood and the texture of light bark. They are finished with oil, beeswax, and polish. Wooden chopsticks are also quite flexible and can be designed and shaped for different styles.
Chopsticks come in many different shapes, and craftsmen employ a wide range of styles to make them easier to use and better able to grip food. The reason there are so many varieties of chopsticks is because there are so many different ways to use them. Lacquered chopsticks can be entirely covered in lacquer or have just their tips treated. Lacquer also makes the sticks much sturdier.
Everyone has different preferences for weight and balance. There is no absolute standard and the best way to choose is to actually hold a pair.
DesignFrom traditional to modern, there are countless varieties of chopsticks, each with their own unique color, design, shape, and lacquer technique. Choosing a pair that suits your image and preferences is one of the pleasures.
Proper Chopsticks Etiquette
The lower chopsticks should rest at the base of your thumb. Lean it lightly against your ring finger, just a little above the first joint. Your hand should now look like the peace sign, while the sticks are supported by your thumb and ring finger.
The upper chopsticks should sit a littler higher above the first joint on the thumb, and rest against your index and middle fingers. It's easy if you hold it as you would a pencil.
When you grab food, only the middle and index fingers, which are holding the upper chopsticks, should move. Ideally, you never want to move your thumb.
The trick is to move only the upper chopsticks, while keeping the lower chopsticks steady.
Using chopsticks properly is a traditional custom that Japanese people work hard to master. However, knowing what not to do with chopsticks is also important for enjoying a Japanese meal.
It can be difficult to pay attention to so many rules while eating, but if you keep in mind the following taboos you can avoid making the people around you feel uncomfortable.
- Skewering Chopsticks :
- Impaling food with your chopsticks
- Pointing Chopsticks :
- Indicating people with your chopsticks
- Double Chopsticks :
- Two people eating food from the same dish
- Standing Chopsticks :
- Sticking your chopsticks in food is for Buddhist chopsticks, and is only permitted as an offering in meals at the bedside of the deceased.
- Licking Chopsticks :
- Grabbing bits of food from the tip of the chopsticks with your tongue.
- Pillaging Chopsticks :
- Ransacking a dish for only the things you like.
- Dripping Chopsticks :
- Letting soup or sauce fall from the ends of your chopsticks.
- Sharing Chopsticks :
- Exchanging food from one pair of chopsticks to another.
- Resting Chopsticks :
- Laying chopsticks on your dish during the meal. This carries the sense of having finished a meal.
- Shoveling Chopsticks :
- Bringing a dish up to your mouth and rapidly devouring the food.
- Drumming Chopsticks :
- Tapping your chopsticks against the dishes or table.
- Searching Chopsticks :
- Searching with your chopsticks for specific items in a soup or dish by moving food around.
- Hovering Chopsticks :
- Moving your chopsticks over various dishes, while deciding which to choose.
- Pulling Chopsticks :
- Drawing a dish toward yourself with your chopsticks.
- Impatient Chopsticks :
- Waiting for another course or helping without first setting down your chopsticks.
- Touching Chopsticks :
- Putting the hand that is holding your chopsticks in contact with a dish.
- Waving Chopsticks :
- Shaking off food that is attached to the tips of your chopsticks.
- Opening Chopsticks :
- Touching and removing your chopsticks from food without taking any.
- Biting Chopsticks :
- Holding your chopsticks in your mouth.
- Speeding Chopsticks :
- Using chopsticks to jump from side dish to side dish without pausing in between to eat rice.
- Burying Chopsticks :
- Using your chopsticks to push food that is already in your mouth further back.
How to Care for Chopsticks
Like lacquer ware, you cannot put painted or wooden chopsticks in a dishwasher or dryer. Leaving these in water for an extended time will cause them to lose their varnish. Chopsticks in particular are prone to break or warp if left wet for too long.
The lacquer on painted chopsticks is designed to prevent dirt from accumulating and often contains anti-bacterial components. Using a gentle sponge to lightly wash the sticks is usually all that is necessary to keep them clean and maintained for a long time.
Wooden chopsticks made of real wood tend to lose their natural oils and become discolored after a long period of use. Dab some vegetable oil on a piece of tissue or cloth and lightly rub it into the chopsticks so the oil penetrates the inside and the sticks recover their sheen. This will also help them repel water.
If you use the same pair of chopsticks regularly, you may find parts of the sticks dirty or blemished. This is just tree sap and is not toxic. If you polish the chopsticks with a dry cloth they should regain their appearance.
Since chopsticks are something you use everyday, the more you use them, the more quickly they will wear out. One way of extending the life of your chopsticks is to rotate which ones you use for different meals, moods, and settings.
※This excludes chopsticks designed for dishwashers and dryers.