Chinese chopsticks, Japanese chopsticks, Korean chopsticks are all different (I DID NOT KNOW THAT!)

Chopsticks are a common utensil across many Asian countries, but their styles, materials, and usage etiquette can vary significantly from one region to another. Here’s a look at how different Asian countries have their own unique approach to chopsticks:


Material and Shape: Traditional Chinese chopsticks are longer than those used in other countries, often made of bamboo, wood, or sometimes stainless steel. They have a thicker, blunt end that tapers to a narrower point. This design reflects the Chinese tradition of communal dishes, where chopsticks need to reach into deep pots or plates shared among diners.
Cultural Aspect: The use of ivory or jade chopsticks was historically a sign of wealth and status.


Material and Shape: Japanese chopsticks, or “hashi,” are shorter and more pointed than their Chinese counterparts. They are often made from lacquered wood or bamboo and can be beautifully decorated. The pointed ends are well-suited for picking up small pieces of food, reflecting the Japanese cuisine’s emphasis on individual portions and the presentation of dishes.
Cultural Aspect: Unique to Japan is a set of chopsticks specifically for ceremonial occasions, such as for New Year’s celebrations, which might be more elaborately decorated.


Material and Shape: Korean chopsticks, “jeotgarak,” are typically made of metal, which is a unique characteristic compared to other Asian countries. They are medium in length, with a small, flat rectangular shape. The use of metal chopsticks dates back to ancient royal courts, reflecting the belief that metal chopsticks could detect poison in the food.
Cultural Aspect: Koreans often use a spoon along with chopsticks, where the spoon is used for soups and rice, and chopsticks for other dishes.


Material and Shape: Vietnamese chopsticks tend to be long like the Chinese ones but are often made from bamboo or wood. They are thick at the holding end and taper to a thin point, designed to pick up both large pieces of food and the small, slippery noodles common in Vietnamese cuisine.
Cultural Aspect: In Vietnam, chopsticks are not only utensils for eating but also play a role in cooking, especially in preparing dishes like pho or spring rolls.

Did you know about this? And if you did, do you have a preference of one over the other?


Actually, before traveling around Asia, I also did not know they were any differences.
I remember my first time in South Korea and holding the flat metal chopsticks was so different from the ones we had in China, I would get cramps in my hands.


The Korean chopsticks definitely need some time to get used to! But after some time you don’t even notice the difference (unrelated but I love the Korean spoons, they’re a bit different)

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Exactly, Korean chopsticks are the toughest in my opinion too. But reading this piece I also realized that there is so much culture and history behind it all and how all of that is quite an influential aspect.

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I did notice this difference!! I also read somewhere that Japanese chopsticks are thinner on the end to help pick out fish bones from certain dishes and that the metal chopsticks used in Korea might be more hygienic as they can be washed at higher temperatures :eyes:

I also read here that 25 million trees are needed for the 45 billions pairs of disposable wooden chopsticks used in China each year, so metal definitely seems to be the way to go :laughing:


Thanks for the article Hannah, would definitely love the deep dive on Chinese chopsticks.

That makes so much sense and now adds up that why Japanese chopsticks are thinner than Chinese chopsticks!

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This is wild! :dizzy_face:

That’s so interesting, I didn’t notice there is a pattern to the chopsticks difference. Using Korean chopsticks is definitely a work for me, too. They’re slippery and have a heavier feel while holding.

I have not been to China, but in Vietnam, for me, whenever I see a restaurant using one of those white melamine chopsticks with colorful carvings of phoenix or Chinese characters, I instantly think of Chinese food. It’s a pretty iconic image association

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Japan also uses a lot of disposable chopsticks, like a lotttt. The funny thing I noticed is, when I’m back in Vietnam, the disposable chopsticks package (with toothpick and tissue paper) in Vietnam is the same like in Japan. They even have full Japanese words on it without a word of Vietnamese. Turns out Vietnam exported a lot of the disposable chopsticks to Japan :woman_shrugging:


This is SO interesting! To me, the Korean ones are still the most difficult to use :smiling_face_with_tear:

One thing that really fascinates me about chopsticks is the etiquette behind them.

For example, it’s considered impolite to stick chopsticks vertically into a bowl of rice, as this resembles the incense offerings made at funerals.

Or the fact that passing food directly from one pair of chopsticks to another is also avoided as it resembles a funeral custom.

I think it’s really important to be informed about table manners in other countries to avoid cultural clashes.

Do you know more etiquette rules that we should all be aware of? :grinning:


Passing food from chopstick to chopstick is a big no-no. This is reminiscent of a funeral rite where bones of the cremated are passed between family members’ chopsticks. Instead, place the food on the recipient’s plate.

Also, others that I learnt over years was that it is rude to point at someone using chopsticks…but this is more of an etiquette.

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Also the communal chopsticks. I’ve been known to forget about these and use my personal chopsticks when I should use the communal ones!

Slap on the wrist for me :melting_face:


To be honest I don’t remember seeing communal chopsticks in Beijing when I lived there :sweat_smile: but it is much more common here in Taipei.

I even learned recently that the word for it is 公筷.

But I was in BJ before covid so maybe it has changed since then, which would make a lot of sense


I remember watching a youtube video about some differences about a year ago. There were Korean, Japanese, and Chinese girls were demonsrating and commenting about each other’s chopsticks.

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That actually would be interesting to watch of how they review other chopsticks. It might even be funny to see them point out things that I (as a foreigner) would never notice

Was it this by any chance?

I’ve been watching this channel quite a bit recently and really enjoy it


Yep! :slight_smile:

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