The three main countries that make use of chopsticks are China, Korea and Japan. And most likely, you’ve used a pair of Chinese chopsticks in your own country! But did you know the differences in the chopsticks of these three countries? There are even differences in good and bad chopstick manners apparently, but we’ll save that for another day. You can check out the chopstick manners for Japan!
The chopsticks that Chinese people use tend to be thicker and longer than those in Japan and Korea. Since the Chinese usually sit around a large round table with a rotating center where the food is placed, it is easier to pick food from where you sit when they are longer. The chopsticks are, therefore, longer than those of other countries.
Korean chopsticks have the most unique characteristics. Just one look and you immediately know that these are Korean chopsticks. Because Korean chopsticks are made of steel, they are usually heavier and flat. The reason why chopsticks in Korea are made of steel is quite interesting. In the Baekje (18 BC – 660 AD) period, the royal family used silver chopsticks to detect poison in their food. Silver changes color when it comes in contact with a poisonous chemical. This helped any deaths due to poisoning. That’s when the common people also started using metal.
Korean chopsticks are flat and edgy.
Although in the olden days, metal chopsticks weren’t common due to their high costs, today they are commonly used.
Japanese chopsticks are unique and the most pointed at the end among the three. Usually, they are not as long as their Chinese counterparts and are made of wood, which makes it easier to pick rice.
The pointed end is extremely useful to pick fish meat off the bones. Since they are shorter, it is easier to handle them. Unlike Chinese, Japanese usually eat out of their own dishes and it makes sense, therefore, for the chopsticks to be short.
You will notice that Japanese chopsticks have the most pointed tips. Check out our feature on chopstick etiquette in Japan!
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