The reason chopsticks are tapered is…
Japan is an island country surrounded by on all sides by ocean.
Since time immemorial, the major source of protein has been fish.
For detailed work like picking the bones out of grilled fish, the tapering is necessary.
If there’s any reason that someone can’t use chopsticks, the tapered tip also allows the method of stabbing the food to bring it to one’s mouth.
(While stabbing food with chopsticks is considered bad manners in Japan, for people who aren’t used to eating with them, it can’t be helped.)
What are Japanese chopsticks made with?
While chopsticks are used all around Asia, the materials varied. Depending on where you are, you can find chopsticks made of wood, bamboo, metal, ivory, or even simple plastic.
In Japan, you can get custom-made chopsticks made from high-class wood or bamboo.
Of course, you can also find easy plastic chopsticks in the 100 yen shop.
The birthplace of lacquered chopsticks, Wakasa, Obama, is in Fukui Prefecture.
While there are wood and bamboo chopsticks that are used as is, there are also chopsticks made with lacquer created in this area.
The area of Wakasa, Obama (in Fukui prefecture) holds 80% of the market share of lacquered chopsticks.
The technique of applying many coats of lacquer to make the chopsticks smooth is called “togidashi” and has the result of polishing the chopsticks.
Sometimes they will apply shells or gold leaf midway through the process to decorate them.
In Japan, usually each person will have a specific pair of chopsticks to use, and only that person will use them.]
In order to liven up your meals, why not look for a pair of chopsticks with an elaborate design?
During celebrations, even splittable chopsticks are fancy
For weddings and other celebratory occasions, disposable chopsticks made of bamboo called “waribashi” are used.
These are used not to waste reources, but for once-in-a-lifetime occasions, it’s a way to make sure that everyone is using new chopsticks.
The way to take these chopsticks out of their sleeve and use them is also a Japan-specific culture.