The Japanese chopsticks that are 12 to 16 inches and called “ryoribashi” are used for cooking deep frying foods. The ones that are 9 inches long are the real chopsticks that are used for eating. It is common for Japanese sticks to be shorter for women and children. Usually, the chopsticks in Japan have circumferential grooves at the eating end that makes food stop slipping.
By tradition, Japanese chopstick sets are made of wood or bamboo. They are also usually lacquered for decoration and waterproofing purposes. Other production materials include plastic, bone, metal, ivory, jade or porcelain. For the people that prefer luxury, the metal chopstick pairs are considered the perfect gift.
It is common for Japanese sticks to be of shorter length for women, and children’s chopsticks in smaller sizes are common. Many Japanese chopsticks have circumferential grooves at the eating end, which helps prevent food from slipping. Japanese chopsticks are typically sharp and pointed. They are traditionally made of wood or bamboo and are lacquered. Lacquered chopsticks were first used in the Yayoi Era, around 2000 years ago.
Edo Kibashi chopsticks have been created by the hands of Tokyo craftspeople since the beginning of the Taishō Period (1912-1926) roughly 100 years ago. These chopsticks are combined with high-grade wood (ebony, red sandalwood, ironwood, Japanese box-trees, maple), which craftspeople plane by hand. Edo Kibashi chopsticks, which are pentagonal hexagonal or octagonal, make them easy to hold. The tips of them are rounded to prevent to damage the dish or the bowl.
Lacquered chopsticks are known in Japanese as Nuribashi, which has a number of varieties, depending on where they are made and what types of lacquers are used in glossing them. Japan is the only place where they are decorated with natural lacquer making them not just functional but highly attractive. The Japanese traditional lacquered chopsticks are produced from the city of Obama in Fukui Prefecture and come in many colors coated in natural lacquer and decorated with mother-of-pearl from abalone and with eggshell to impart a waterproof shield to the chopsticks extending their life.
Modern chopsticks’ designs may include your astrological sign (Eastern or Western), the flora or fauna of the seasons, or popular animation characters.
Unlike their Chinese precursors, of uniform thickness, Japanese chopsticks are tapered along their length. The chopsticks used for ceremonial purposes are tapered on both ends. This kind of ceremonial chopstick is still in use in Japan, today.
Unlike Chinese families, who keep a collection of a dozen or so identical chopsticks in a box or a large cup on the dining table, Japanese families tend to keep personal pairs of chopsticks for each family member.
In the Japanese way of thinking, there is a lingering sense of the divine in any pair of chopsticks. A pair of your own, inhabited by memories made in Japan, can bridge the gap between the present and the past.