How chopsticks are made

Len says: "A post from Xeni about disposable chopsticks and deforestation reminded me of this video. It's from Japan's version of 'How it's Made.' It is hard to believe how much hands-on work goes into making them (wait 'til you get to the women at the pile). Astonishing. I've never been able to look at them the same since. Great machine sounds too. There are quite a few good episodes in there including #228 - sumi brush making and #156 - kendo armor."

Series "The Making". How will follow the product are made familiar with what kind of technology, we convey the relationship of science and technology and the origins of things. "Chopsticks" theme is. Came to be used generally late Edo period. The reason that there is no need to turn to use, clean and has spread. Raw material is spruce. Birch, willow, cedar, and bamboo is also used for the other. Many white part, spruce is also used in building materials, is suitable for disposable chopsticks. At this plant, three types of disposable chopsticks are made. Chopsticks common "Genroku" The first. Was devised around 1887 - '30, cut the four corners of the chopsticks to make it easier course, also contains a groove in the center for easy assignment. The "cut" Heaven is the second, etc. are used in high-end Japanese restaurant. Cut diagonally (heaven) the end of the hand, I have easy to use by cutting round the tip of a chopstick. "Rikyu" third. In a way that was invented by Sen no Rikyu, was commercialized in the late Meiji period. Land can be used as chopsticks chopsticks to carry both ends mouth heaven and earth have become thin, take heaven, is also used for the tea ceremony, kaiseki.

How It's Made


Pickpocket uses chopsticks -- video

Modern chopsticks for the digitally imbecilic

Edible Bowls and Chopsticks from Hardtack

Chopsticks safety: you are NOT the walrus! Goo goo g'jooob!


  1. As I have posted before:-

    1. There’s a big, repurposed popsicle stick factory in BC that exports a lot of chopsticks too.

  2. The hideous waste of disposable chopsticks is why I always carry around my good chopsticks with me.  You can get a stylish “Hello, Kitty” carrier or, if that’s not available in your area, the artist’s brush holders that are available at any arts supply store are just the right size.

    1. +1 on this, but I’d like to add that this is slower paced and more methodical than the original Canadian version, which is both good and bad – good because it shows little details that the original show would have skipped over, but bad because I now may not be able to get anything done for a while…

      1. Actually I’m more versed in the UK version, but they’re much the same as the Canadian one (in some cases the same footage re narrated) – but after watching a few of these Japanese ones I must say I’m a fan of the format!
        I like being able to hear all the machinery sounds, it’s much more immersive than corny puns and lift music (not that I don’t enjoy that too). An omission I’d never really noticed before.

    1.  Steaming the wood makes it temporarily flexible which means those rather thick ribbons which are shaved off the logs can be bent without cracking.

      Its the principle behind “bent wood chairs”.

  3. My understanding is that bamboo is a fairly environmentally friendly material, it grows fast and ties up CO2 in the process.
    The factory in the video below looks like something that could be set up all over the Asian country side for relatively little money, creating jobs where the bamboo grows rather than in cities and sweatshops. Any reason why we couldn’t create a big enough demand for bamboo chopsticks to stop the aforementioned threat to trees?

    1.  Because Asians consume a truly MASSIVE number of disposable chopsticks.  China is another huge consumer of them, which has to be taken into account.  Bamboo can only grow so fast.

      While travelling in Vietnam, I had the opportunity to visit several small family-owned operations (chopstick manufactory, coffee farm, tea dryer, a place that bought shrapnel farmers ploughed up in their fields) and it was quite interesting.  The machine they used was a hand-crank machine to carve out chopsticks and looked quite fun to use for about 10 minutes.  As a career, I don’t think I’d have liked it, though.

    1.  Yeah, I used to teach English at a factory in Japan where they made furniture. On one piece of cutting equipment there was a “safety bar” that had to be lowered before the blade moved…it had a a strong spring and slammed into the bench when it closed.They didn’t have anyone lose a hand, but about twice a year someone broke a couple of fingers on this fiendish contraption. A couple of well.placed blocks of wood and 10 minutes of installation would have fixed it, but it being Japan, this 60-year-old-machine had never been modified, and never will be.

  4. i did kendo for many years and while it’s nice to see all the craftsmanship and hand-work that goes into making the bogu, kendobogu (gear/armor) really needs to come up to the 21st century. getting hit on the head all the time with only a 3/4″ thick piece of (admittedly very heavy) cotton between the shinai and your skull is… well, bad for you.

    had to stop when i realized that feeling hung over twice a week the day after practice is probably not a good thing if you think for a living…

  5. It’s interesting, but I’d prefer the soothing voiceover of the Canadian show.  If I’m sick for any reason if there’s a How It’s Made marathon on, I am set for the day.

      1. And the new ones with Zac Fine aren’t as gentle and soothing.  Still, they could be making ICBMs and I’d just be sitting there with a placid grin on my face watching things get made.

  6. The Japanese site was very slow for me. I thought I found the same video on youtube and posted it here, but I was incorrect. sorry.

  7. I’m surprised to see that this story is suggesting a connection between disposable chopstick production and deforestation in Japan. Nothing could be further from the truth, so let’s not confuse China with Japan. Despite using many trees to make chopsticks, according to a 2009 Japan Forestry Agency report Japan is two-thirds forested covering about 25 million hectares. Leave Tokyo and almost everywhere one goes is covered with trees. Unlike China, a country with a long history of environmental destruction (far predating the current scourge of disposable chopsticks), Japan has a clear record of forestry dating back to its premodern period. See Conrad Totman’s book Green Archipelago: Forestry in Pre-Industrial Japan.  

    1. I’m ex ex-pat of that country, and hugely sensitive to undue criticisms or stereotypings of Japan, so I sympathize with your desire here to make sure that China’s deforestation practices aren’t being unfairly conflated with Japan’s … but on this one, it’s pots and kettles calling each other black.

      Japan doesn’t deforest inside its own borders as much as China does, but the disposable chopsticks it uses by the untold badrillions every day come from appallingly deforested tracks of land in China, Canada, and Russia, in an enterprise dominated by the mega-companies Mitsubishi and Daishowa Keiretsu.

  8. Remember when Mr. Rogers would go the the little painting and it would show those videos of things being made?  I loved those.  This brings all that back.

  9. Since they don’t have voiceover, they could trivially substitute English subtitles and open their program to a much wider audience.  I wonder why they don’t?

  10. “Land can be used as chopsticks chopsticks to carry both ends mouth heaven and earth have become thin, take heaven,”
    that whole quote is a diagonal cut of heaven.

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