箸【Hashi (chopsticks)】

Chopsticks, which are called hashi in Japanese, are the basic utensils that Japanese people eat with. Chopsticks are used for Japanese meals instead of the forks, knives, and spoons, which are used for eating Western food. In addition, there are also chopsticks that are used for cooking. There are several types of chopsticks that are used depending on the purpose. Chopsticks for eating with are usually about 20 centimeters long (approximately 8 inches) and are pointed at one end. They are made of a number of materials including plastic, wood, and ivory. Chopsticks made of wood such as cypress or willow are the most common because they are strong and light. These wooden chopsticks are usually coated with lacquer. Iwai-bashi, chopsticks made from willow, are specially prepared for auspicious occasions such as New Year’s Day. Saibashi, long chopsticks made of bamboo, are used for cooking.

箸は日本人の食生活に無くてはならない基本的な道具です。箸は、洋食に使用するナイフ・フォーク・スプーンに相当する食器としてのほか、調理用具としても利用されています。箸にはいくつかの種類があり、用途によって使用する箸の種類が異なります。食事用の箸は通常20?位の長さで、一端がとがった形をしています。材質はプラスチック・木・象牙など色々ですが、イトスギやヤナギのように軽くて丈夫な木に漆を塗ったものが最も一般的です。お正月などの祝い事には、特にヤナギでできた祝い箸(いわいばし)を用います。調理用には、菜箸(さいばし)と呼ばれる竹製の長い箸が使われます。

Each person uses one pair of chopsticks throughout the meal when eating Japanese food. These chopsticks are not replaced with a new pair. When people eat soup, the solid part of the soup is eaten with chopsticks and the broth is sipped directly from the soup bowl. In Japanese families, it is customary for each person to have their own pair of chopsticks that they normally use and no one else ever uses. Restaurants, inns that are called ryokans in Japanese, and other places that serve food generally provide customers with disposable chopsticks called waribashi. Waribashi refer to two wooden or bamboo chopsticks that are still connected to each other. Then the waribashi are broken apart when they are used. Waribashi are enclosed in what look something like a long, narrow, open-ended envelope before they are used. When people have guests in their homes, they give them waribashi to eat with.

日本料理を食べる場合、食事の初めから終わりまで同じ一対の箸を使います。汁ものの場合、汁の中に入っている実(固形物)を食べるときは箸を使い、汁は汁椀から直接すすります。日本の家庭では、家族の一人一人が自分専用の箸を持つことが習慣となっています。料理店・旅館などでは、割り箸(わりばし)と呼ばれる使い捨ての箸を出すのが普通です。割り箸は木や竹の平たい棒の真ん中に切れ目が入っていて、そこから二つに割って使います。割り箸は、一対ずつ細長く片端が開いた箸袋に入れて出します。飲食店だけでなく家庭でも、来客用に割り箸を用意しています。

Chopsticks were introduced to Japan from China in ancient times and the Japanese have been using them to eat with for hundreds of years. Manners and customs for using chopsticks have evolved over this long period of time. Many taboos and superstitions related to chopsticks have also evolved over time. One of the greatest taboos is aibasami. Aibasami means that one person passes food from his/her chopsticks to the chopsticks of another person. It is equally unacceptable to stick your chopsticks straight up in a bowl of rice. Both of these taboos are related to Japanese funeral customs. It is also bad manners to stab food with your chopsticks, put food you have picked up with your chopsticks back on a serving plate, lick anything off your chopsticks, and wave your chopsticks over a plate while deciding what to eat.

箸は古代中国から日本に伝わり、日本人は数百年も前から箸を使って食事をしています。このような長い間に、箸の使い方についての作法や習慣が生まれ、発達してきました。それと同時に、箸に関する多くのタブーや迷信も生まれました。例えば、他の人が箸ではさんでいる食べ物を自分の箸で受け取ることを相ばさみ(あいばさみ)といいますが、これは絶対にしてはならないタブーです。また、茶碗に盛り付けられた御飯に箸を突き立てることも、絶対にしてはいけません。どちらも葬儀の習慣に関連していて、日常生活では絶対的なタブーとされています。この他にも、箸で食べ物を突き刺すこと、一度箸に取ったものを皿に戻すこと、箸に付いたものをなめること、箸を皿の上でぐるぐる回して食べ物を選ぶことなどはマナーに反することです。

It is not clean to put chopsticks directly on the table when they are not in use. It is recommended that the ends of the chopsticks that go in your mouth be put on a small ceramic, wooden, or glass stand, which is called a hashioki in Japanese. The hashioki, beautifully colored and gracefully shaped, also serves as a decoration on the table.

食事中箸を使わないときには、衛生上、直接食卓の上に置かず、口に入れる方の端を箸置き(はしおき)と呼ばれる小さな台の上に載せます。箸置きは、美しい色や形の陶製・木製・ガラス製の小物で、食卓を飾る小道具として装飾的な役割も果たします。

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