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Chopsticks in Japan


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It was about 1400 years ago that chopsticks were used in Japan.

In Japan at that time, meals were eaten by hand.

It is said that Prince Shotoku spread the chopsticks. It is said that Prince Shotoku sent a delegation called “Japanese mission to Sui” to China (Sui) at that time, including Ono no Imoko, and was very impressed with the elegant “chopsticks method” of Sui.

Eating by hand may be considered a “primitive and barbaric country” by the Sui dynasty.

if it is regarded as such in diplomacy and trade with the Sui, which was the national priority. It’s serious.

Therefore, Prince Shotoku first spread the culture of using chopsticks to the imperial court.

Time passed  and the chopsticks method eventually spread to the general public, and the Japanese chopsticks culture has undergone a unique evolution.

Place the chopsticks so that the handle is on the right side in the foreground. Even if you are left-handed people, do not change the direction of chopsticks.

Because chopsticks make a barrier for afterlife and this world.

”chopsticks” is called 箸(hashi) in Japanese that shares the same sound as “bridges” which is also pronounced as 橋(hashi) in Japanese. ”Chopsticks” is a metaphor for “bridges”橋, as the Japanese ideology has believed that spirit and life reside in everything in the universe since the ancient time. That belief has been equipped in the chopsticks. Thus, the chopsticks also refer to a “barrier” that separates the two worlds, the world of spirit and the world of being. With this belief, we can interpret the body of the chopstick as the bridge that links the pole of the natural spirit world (God’s realm), and the pole of the human world”.

When Japanese cook food, they proceed it with the consciousness of dedicating it to “God”, and after “God” eats it, they take chopsticks, remove the barrier, and have the food.

It is also a tribute to the spirit world of nature when the chopsticks are picked up for the first time after putting your hands together and saying “Itadaki-masu”.

For the first time after mourning the spirit, pick up chopsticks, break the barrier, and bring sacred food to your mouth.

And placing chopsticks vertically is bad manner because it is rude to point the tip of a sharp chopstick at someone who shares the table.

If you are interested in Sushi culture, I recommend SUSHIDO with sushi (We also have vegetarian menu) when you visit to Tokyo.

If you are interested in Shitamachi(Do you know Shitamachi?) ,secret spots in Tokyo and Japanese casual conversation for trip, I recommend Online Japanese lesson.