Aug. 13, 2020 UPDATE
Ichihara Heibei Shoten- 市原平兵衞商店 -
Chopsticks appropriate for people with large hands are also offered. The store is easy to visit, located in Kyoto’s shopping district near Shijo Station.
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Story & Recommendation
Bamboo chopsticks from Kyoto, each one totally unique, with a 10-year lifespan
Located just a 5-minute walk from Shijo Station on the Kyoto City Subway’s Karasuma Line is Ichihara Heibei Shoten, a store gaining popularity for its bamboo chopsticks, which are said to be useable for a period of over 10 years. While ordinary chopsticks tend to deteriorate after about one year, the Miyako chopsticks sold at this shop are noted for their long lifespan. They are made from Susu bamboo, an especially durable and valuable bamboo that is over 150 years old. These chopsticks range from 16cm to 36cm in length, so they offer the added benefit of giving you the ability to buy ones that fit the size of your palm and the length of your fingers. Additionally, the store offers about 400 kinds of products in all, including spoons and forks, and you can pick any of them up and get a real feel for them before buying. Kyoto is known as a center for handmade bamboo goods, so this is the perfect place to go shopping for some bamboo chopsticks.
Miyako chopsticks made with Susu bamboo / Small size ￥4,400 | Middle size ￥5,000 | Large size ￥6,000
This top-selling line of bamboo chopsticks is available in small, medium, and large sizes. With proper care, they can be used for over 10 years. Generally, bamboo is soft, but the Susu bamboo used for these chopsticks is uniquely strong and sturdy. For more than 150 years, it was used for ceilings in Japanese houses, and it’s been hardened through exposure to cooking smoke. No two pieces have the same figure or tint, so each chopstick is truly one-of-a-kind.
Heian chopsticks made with Ma-bamboo / ￥3,800-
These are bamboo chopsticks made from high-grade Ma-bamboo. Lengths of 19.5cm, 22.5cm. 23cm are available. This material is flexible enough that the end of the chopstick can be bent, so it’s resistant to breaking and easy for anyone to use. Also, the chopsticks are finished with numerous coats of lacquer, so their color lasts, making for chopsticks that always feel like they’re brand new.
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Chopsticks made with Shitan wood / ￥4,600
These chopsticks are made from a top-quality wood called Shitan. They need to be thoroughly dried off after using, but their durability is outstanding. Food does not slip easily when being held by these chopsticks, making them perfect for people who are not accustomed to using them. Also, they are made from a wood that is somewhat heavier than bamboo so as to match better with the weight of Mashiko-yaki, a type of pottery developed and distributed in the Kanto region. For this reason, they are popular among people from Kanto, and that’s another interesting thing about them. We hope you’ll enjoy comparing their feel to those of the bamboo kinds and learning about regional differences in cultures by experiencing chopsticks.
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Susu bamboo hashikokashi / ￥14,000
Chopstick storage containers made from bamboo. Storing chopsticks horizontally is said to preserve their quality more effectively than storing them vertically. Like Miyako chopsticks, these containers are made from Susu bamboo, so although they are expensive, they’re made to last a lifetime. These would be great for storing Miyako chopsticks.
How to buy
As these chopsticks are handmade individually by craftsmen, there are slight differences in angle and size. Samples are put out at the store, so you can pick up the various kinds and choose the chopsticks that suit you best.
- Shopping Tips -
By performing simple maintenance, you can make them last over 10 years. The most important thing is to wash and dry them immediately after use. They are not safe for dishwasher use. Submerging them in water can also cause deterioration.