Far East, Far Out Chopstick Differences
Updated: Feb 22, 2020
Did you know chopstick etiquette (chopstiquette) differs from county to country? And chopstick sizes and shapes differ from place to place? Next time you go out for Japanese, Korean or Chinese, you'll notices the subtle differences for yourself!
Japanese chopsticks [top] Korean chopsticks [center] Chinese chopsticks [bottom]
Japanese chopsticks are slightly shorter than Chinese, they are typically rounded and taper to a point. Given that the Japanese diet consists of large amounts of whole bony fish, the pointed ends make it easier to remove small bones from the fish.
Korean chopsticks are of medium-length with a small, flat rectangular shape, and can be made of metal. Traditionally metal versions are brass or silver. As the picture shows, Korean metal chopsticks are usually ornately decorated at the grip. They are virtually always used with a spoon.
Chinese chopsticks are rectangular in shape, with blunt ends, and can be made from a variety of materials:bamboo, plastic, wood, bone, metal, or sometimes even jade, ivory or silver.
Each type of chopsticks has its own advantages. Korean chopsticks are much heavier than Chinese or Japanese because they are made of metal, but because of this they are often believed to be the most hygienic. Japanese chopsticks are shorter than Chinese or Korean, and this makes them more comfortable for picking up small pieces of food, like rice or beans.
Generally speaking, chopsticks in other East Asian countries like Vietnam, Laos or Thailand are similar to Chinese chopsticks. Next time you handle a pair of chopsticks, take a guess as to which country they may have originated!