Chopsticks from Across Asia

Have you ever looked closely at your chopsticks?

The next time you eat out, try seeing if you can spot how one restaurant’s sticks are different from another’s. The sticks we use at our Issaquah Japanese restaurant may not be the same as those at a Chinese place, or a Korean venue. You might find that there are distinct styles in the chopstick world. Indeed, though these sticks may seem as simple as utensils can get, it is actually possible to identify somebody’s country of origin based on the sticks they eat with:

  • Japan: (ha-shi) Traditional Japanese chopsticks are made of lacquered wood or bamboo. They tend to come in different lengths for men, women, and children, and they taper off with a thin, round tip at the end. Historically, Japanese nobles were fond of having their sticks made from jade or precious metals, particularly silver, as it was believed that silver would stain when it came into contact with poison.
  • China: (kuàizi) The birthplace of chopsticks, China is fond of longer sticks than the other countries. Chinese chopsticks are usually crafted from unfinished wood or bamboo, and have a thicker, blunter tip than those employed in Japan.
  • Korea: (jeok-ga-rak) Korea’s chopsticks are particularly distinctive, as theirs are the only ones commonly made out of steel, but you can still find wooden chopsticks. Such sticks are shaped with a flat, rectangular cross section that tapers off to a round, slender tip. Many Korean sticks are decorated with ornate designs along the broad sides of the grip.