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Japan’s and How they Use Chopsticks

Ewa Nowogorski

Chopsticks are the eating utensil of choice in most East Asian countries. Japan is one of them. The Japanese government’s Forestry Agency estimates that a whopping 25 billion pairs of disposable wooden chopsticks, called waribashi, are used in Japan every year. And those are just the ones you throw away. There are plenty of wooden, plastic, and metal chopsticks used that are reusable.

The use of chopsticks is extremely refined, and there are different sizes, different materials, and different colors for chopsticks depending on their use. It is common for women’s chopsticks to be slightly shorter than men’s chopsticks, and children’s chopsticks are shorter still.

There are special chopsticks for cooking as well, called ryoribashi (literally “cooking chopticks”) and they are much longer than eating chopsticks. They can withd\stand burning and high temperatures, and they helping you handle food over an open flame in very much the same way that standard tongs do.

Chopsticks are definitely not made for eating things like stakes, but traditional Japanese cuisine did not include foods that are hard to take apart. Rice sticks to itself and is easy to pick up, and fish when cooked is extremely soft and can be sliced into bite-sized pieces with only a little pressure from chopsticks. Modern foods are prepared pre-cut so that you can easily pick up a piece that fits into your mouth. This culture also encourages sharing of food.

I personally don’t always eat with chopsticks, especially with soupy things that are hard to grip, but I think that in most cases they are definitely more convenient than spoons and forks.

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