Why do Japanese people use chopsticks?

Matome Culture & Lifestyle
Tuesday, January 31, 2017 at 21:11

Is it a Japanese culture to use chopsticks?

chopsticks
chopsticks
I see many foreign people having difficulties using chopsticks (箸) at restaurants in Japan.
It seems knife and fork are quite reasonable tools. If you don't care about manner, everybody intuitively understands how to use them.
On the other hand, it requires training to manipulate chopsticks. However regardless of ages and genders, all the Japanese people naturally use chopsticks more than knife and folks.
I see many Japanese who don't know much about knife and fork manner, but I seldom see Japanese who don't know chopstick manner. Of course some of Japanese use it with wrong manner, but still good enough to use it and eat meals.

In this article, I would like to explain the history of chopsticks in Japan and how it mixed in to Japanese culture.

The history of chopsticks in Japan and why they fit in Japanese culture

The origin of chopsticks is not Japan, it is China. As a matter of fact, many of what we see as Japanese culture today are originally Chinese origin.
Needless to say, Kanji was imported from China. Mirror and Toufu are also from China along with many other products.
Chopsticks are also one of them. It is unclear than when chopsticks were born, but chopsticks first appeared in the Chinese book written 3000 years ago.
On the other hand, according to Gishi-wajin-den history book which was written around 280AD, Japanese people still ate meals using hands instead of chopsticks. However Kojiki history book written at 712Ad, says, someone found chopsticks floating on the river. Thus we can assume chopstick was imported from China to Japan sometime between 280AD ~ 712AD.

The earliest chopsticks didn't look like current one. They looked like a tong which was made out of one piece of wood vending it.
Following picture is said to be close to chopsticks in old days.
Old Chopsticks
Old Chopsticks
Early days, chopsticks were not used to eat meals. They used chopsticks as a sacred treasure to offer food to Gods at holy events at shrines.
It means that people at that time came to think that "touching foods with hands is filthy deed". Therefore they started to used it for Gods first.

As times comes closer to today, ordinary people also started use chopsticks to eat meals.
Japanese people thought that "thanks to the protection by God, we can have meal today ". Therefore, Japanese people smoothly accepted chopsticks which was originally a sacred treasure.

As a trace to this chopsticks' history as a sacred treasure, some conservative Japanese keep chopsticks in a special box to keep it clean while not using them.
Chopstick box
Chopstick box
Source: f-shikki.com
There is one more reason that chopsticks fit in Japanese culture. That is the nature of Japanese rice.
Unlike dried-out Indica rice used in Southern Asian countries, Japanese rice is so sticky. Therefore chopsticks works better than other tablewares.

Due to the above reasons, chopsticks became so popular in Japan

Matome

In Japan, chopstick is more than just a tool. They keep on sophisticate them, decorate them and sublimated into work of art.
As a conclusion of this article, I would like to show you some pictures of superb chopsticks.
Iron chopsticks
Iron chopsticks
Titanium chopsticks
Titanium chopsticks
Twisted chopsticks
Twisted chopsticks
Golden chopsticks
Golden chopsticks
Source: hakuichi.jp
Disposal chopsticks to celebrate happy events
Disposal chopsticks to celebrate happy events

Share


Comments

Please Login or Signup to comment

More Matome

ファイラ(FIRA)のマッスルサプリメントが人気!
Thursday, September 12, 2019 at 11:22
75 view
新潟の社会人サークル
Sunday, September 22, 2019 at 18:14
75 view

Latest Matome

Why do Japanese people use chopsticks?
WriterKyo
Posted by:
759
view
1
like

Share