As Mr Miyagi said himself “Man who catch fly with chopstick accomplish anything”!
Chopsticks are more than just eating utensils in Japan. They are an extension of your fingers and require skill and dexterity to master. It’s no wonder then that a Japanese person will likely shower you with praise when you are able to use them gracefully and most importantly, successfully!
Read on for our Japan Centre guide to chopsticks, and maybe you will find the answer to Mr Miyagi’s biggest problem… just how do you catch a fly with a pair of wooden sticks?
A Bit of History
Chopsticks originated in China supposedly as early as the Shang dynasty (1766-1122 BC) and are named in English after the Chinese Pidgin English word “Chop Chop”, which means quickly. They can be used as an eating utensil, serving utensils, or even for cooking and come in a huge range of sizes, materials and styles depending on the country where they are used.
Japanese chopsticks tend to be a little different to chopsticks that you might find in China, or other parts of East and South Asia. They are usually a rounded square shape with a tapered end that finishes in a sharp tip, perfect for precise tasks such as picking bones out of fish or grabbing that last grain of rice. They are commonly made from wood which are infinitely easier to use than their slippery plastic cousins, but some high end chopsticks can be made from precious jewels, bone or even gold plated!
If you eat Japanese food, or indeed any type of Asian food on a regular basis, it’s a good idea to get a pair of your own chopsticks. Although quick and easy to use, disposable chopsticks are not particularly friendly for the environment and even if they were, having your own personal pair is much more satisfying! :)
How to Become a Chopstick Master!
Using chopsticks is easy once you know how, but getting used to them initially can take a bit of practice.
The more you use chopsticks, the better you become at them, so keep practising and soon you will master them.
How to Catch a Fly with Chopsticks
If you can catch a fly with chopsticks, then you truly have become the master. Although exceedingly difficult, it is still possible!
The trick is not to aimlessly try and grab the fly, but wait until the fly comes to you before you pluck him out of the sky. If you watch closely, they often fly around in set patterns, so learn the pattern and then wait for him to cross the path of your chopsticks before striking for gold.
If you get bored of trying and seem to have a ninja fly that keeps escaping the claws of your nimble attempts, simply kill him with a fly killer spray and pick up his dead carcass with your chopsticks for instant gratification!
Or if you want some more practice, try out this online Flash game and see how many virtual flies you can catch with your virtual chopsticks. My record is the huge total of… 1!
OK I’m Convinced, Where Can I Buy Some Chopsticks?
At Japan Centre of course, we have a selection of chopsticks to suit everyone! So whether you prefer a plain pair of wooden ones, or even some cute ones for your bento box, head on over to our website and choose your favourite pair.