Personal Chopsticks: “My Hashi”
Like people in many other Asian countries, Japanese use hashi (chopsticks) to eat food. Everyone has personal chopsticks at home, but when dining out or eating store-bought bento boxes, people often use disposable wooden chopsticks. Approximately 25 billion sets of chopsticks are used (and disposed of) each year in Japan, approximately 200 sets per person per year. As this number reveals, disposable chopsticks are a convenient part of everyday life; recently, however, people have begun to think about sustainability. Today, in response to environmental concerns, many Japanese carry personal chopsticks and use them in restaurants.
At first, this personal chopsticks––known as “My Hashi”––trend surged among eco-conscious people who were worried about the depletion of forests. But the trend spread widely when several new types of chopsticks were invented: chopsticks housed in a portable case, chopsticks that can be disassembled, and chopsticks that are retractable or can be folded––all developments that make chopsticks easier to carry. Then the trend took a fashionable turn. Some top fashion brands started offering “My Hashi” as novelties, and trendsetters made them popular. Now that sustainability and style have united, carrying “My Hashi” has become common.
A new phase in the “My Hashi” movement is now unfolding: chopsticks that have never existed before are being introduced. Examples include “Japanese Samurai Chopsticks,” which are shaped like famous warlords’ swords, and “Star Wars Lightsaber Chopsticks.” Both items are made by Kotobukiya (www.kotousa.com), a manufacturer of manga and anime figurines, and are meticulously reproduced. It will not take long for some of these “My Hashi” items to become collectibles.
——– Reported by Mark Minai
Mark Minai resides in Japan and writes articles and books on cultural trends and fashion issues.