Quick culture check-in: Disposable chopsticks’ ends

Here’s a query from Facebook, where someone shared a story about how the blocky end tips of disposable chopsticks are meant to be snapped off and used as chopstick holders on your table (image to the right).

I responded with this comment and posted some photos I took:

I’ve seen this post, or one like it, before. I can honestly say that although you might be able to do this with the tab, here’s why I think this is a bogus theory:

1) The block is pretty small, and would not serve as a very good chopstick holder.

2) Japanese (most of the disposable chopsticks with this block at the end are manufactured for Japanese consumers, made from stripping bamboo rainforests all through SE Asia) are sticklers for packaging and usability, and if these pieces were meant to be snapped off, there would be a notch to make it easy to break off.

3) Have you tried breaking the piece off chopsticks? Bamboo is a really strong wood. (See photo)

4) Some disposable chopsticks don’t have this block, they have ends that slant down to a smooth tip (see photo).

5) The wrapper that the chopsticks come in is what you should use by folding into a simple holder (there are lots of fancy ways you can fold or tie the wrapper too). (see second photo)

6) I can honestly say that I have never, ever seen anyone in Japan or any Asian in the US do that with their disposable chopsticks….

That’s it for today’s Culture Check-In rant. Thanks for reading!

Here’s a column I wrote way back in October, 2000 about chopsticks. I should re-post it as a Nikkei View blog post!

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