Food Forum
Vol. 28 No. 3  October 2014

JAPANESE STYLE

Japanese Chopsticks


A variety of Japanese chopsticks, together with an assortment of chopstick rests

Chopsticks are used extensively throughout Eastern and Southeast Asian countries, but while other cultures might also use spoons, Japan relies solely on chopsticks when eating washoku, Japanese cuisine. There are many varieties of Japanese chopsticks, most of which are made of wood or bamboo—rarely metal. Chopsticks are often tapered at the ends to pick up small pieces of food easily. There are chopsticks used especially to place cooked foods into serving dishes, or to add finishing touches to a meal: these are finely made and considered indispensable in washoku preparation. Some chopsticks are tapered at both ends, for serving two different kinds of food; these prevent the mingling of dissimilar flavors on the tips of the chopsticks. Most Japanese people have their own chopsticks for use at home, while new or single-use chopsticks are reserved for guests; disposable chopsticks are provided in most restaurants. A proper place setting will usually include a chopstick rest, called hashi-oki, which appear in various motifs and styles to complement the decor. The rests make chopsticks easier to pick up and set aside neatly, while preventing their tips from touching the table.