Why are Japanese chopsticks shorter than Chinese ones?

And not metal like Korean ones?

According to a book on Korea I read and then forgot the name of, Chinese ones are longer because they are more likely to eat very hot food that could spit oil all over your fingers if you don’t keep your distance. The Japanese couldn’t use metal chopsticks because until comparatively recently for all but the rich their rice was almost always mixed with other grains such as barley, making it less sticky.

Not 100% convinced with this explanation, as anyway the Koreans are supposed to use their spoon with rice rather than chopsticks (though this taboo is disappearing), so as ever contributions from others very welcome indeed.

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5 Comments

  1. March 13, 2010 at 4:08 am

    I have alway wondered about this. Chinese chopsticks having block ends and Japanese having slender pointed ends. I find Japanese chopsticks easier to use.

  2. April 16, 2010 at 4:19 am

    The chopsticks I bought in Malaysia, where both Malays and Chinese use them, were somewhere in between in length. I suspect if you go back far enough the common people in Japan ate multi-grain gruels, which required something more like a bowl and an open mouth. However, nigiri sushi, a fairly recent innovation, is easy to pick up with the length of chopstick we use now. Chinese ones are too long for this sort of food. Since Chinese food is served with a rotation of food in the middle of the table and you have to reach to get items, the extra length helps you to grab items.

  3. Duc said,

    June 16, 2010 at 6:00 am

    I don’t have an answer, but I like the Korean’s metal chopsticks better. I am thinking about a ‘5-finger’ discount when I visit Gyu-Kaku again.

  4. Brad said,

    July 14, 2010 at 2:10 pm

    Was the book your read “Korea Unmasked?”

  5. alexcase said,

    July 14, 2010 at 10:33 pm

    That’s the fella! Please don’t tell anyone that it’s actually a comic!

    By complete coincidence, was trying to decide whether to read it again before I give it away (only 3 months left in Korea) or not the other day. Still haven’t decided


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