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A chopstick rest is a table accessory used to keep chopstick tips from touching the table. Though there are numerous types, and most Japanese families may have a few at home, they really aren’t used that often for casual dining. People are likely to see chopstick rests in restaurants much more so than in any but formal dining experiences at traditional Japanese homes.
In Japan these rests are called hashioki, and there are numerous types. Some people collect them because designs vary so significantly. A simple chopstick rest could be made of wood, or even constructed of origami paper. Other rests are much more elaborate and may be made of porcelain or carved stone.
It’s fairly easy to find a plethora of chopstick rest types. Though wooden ones are common, strikingly lovely ones are made in various designs and may have intricate shapes or carving. Flowers, fish and small animals of porcelain or stones like jade are a pretty accent to a table. Sometimes people collect by theme and themes could be roughly divided into plants, creatures, objects and abstract rests.
Though objects featured on a chopstick rest might be fairly traditional representations of Japanese culture, there are some unique rests that can be appealing. They might resemble books, chess tiles, or boats. Some are designed especially for children and may be more juvenile in decoration and have bright colors. A few types of chopstick rests are made for special holidays or festivals celebrated in Japan.
Many people who’d like to serve a Japanese dinner at home need to know exactly how to place chopstick rests in accordance with Japanese tradition. Generally, rests are placed in front of dishes. The chopstick tips should point to the left and be parallel to the table edge.
Chopstick rests can be very inexpensive, but more intricately made styles may be higher in price. Sometimes they are sold in sets, but many can be purchased singly. A number of online stores stock them, and people may have luck finding them in urban Chinatowns or Japan towns. Occasionally Japanese restaurants also sell them. Though many chopstick rests are made in Japan, there are some made in Korea too that may reflect slightly different design principles.
A similar device is the spoon rest. This has the same basic purpose as the chopstick rest, protecting a used spoon from other surfaces and keeping other surfaces from contamination by a dirty spoon. These are easily found in lots of kitchen supply stores. They’re not typically used on tables but instead are most often used on or near stoves as a handy place to set down a spoon in between stirring of cooking ingredients.