Miya Red Lacquer Chopsticks

The perfect special occasion chopsticks — but we won’t tell if you want to use them every day.

Chopsticks are a creation of China, but they’ve been a presence in Japan for about 1,500 years. What distinguishes Japanese chopsticks from Chinese is that Japanese chopsticks are tapered at one end (the tapered end is used to grasp the food), while the Chinese are of uniform thickness. In Japan, chopsticks were at one time ascribed holy qualities, and it was believed that to use them was to literally share food with the gods. Over time, they went from largely ceremonial and religious use to becoming everyday staples at the Japanese table. Which leads us to the chopsticks you’ll find in the Vices Japanese Kitchen Edition.

Almost 75 years ago, a Mr. Miya opened a small flower shop on East 28th St. in New York City. Today, Miya — the company — is the biggest importer of Japanese tableware on the East Coast. So when we went looking for truly elegant chopsticks to include in our Japanese-themed box, we knew just where to turn. And these stunning red lacquer chopsticks certainly did not disappoint.

Lacquered chopsticks have their advantages. They’re gorgeous, they’re reusable (it’s recommended to wash these by hand), and they’re terrific for special occasions. However, the lacquer is somewhat slippery, especially compared to disposable wooden chopsticks. That means if you’re a chopstick novice, you’ll need to practice a bit with these before you break out your skills amidst company. Remember, don’t grip them too tightly lest your hands cramp up; and in Japanese culture it’s acceptable to “spear” food you can’t easily grab with the chopsticks, like slick dumplings or flaky seafood. We’re not saying you’ll look great stabbing at your food, but sometimes the ends justify the means.

Miya has a vast variety of authentic Japanese tableware — everything from gorgeous casserole pots and tea sets to a dizzying array of chopsticks. You can find their products at retailers across the U.S., but to look at their line from home, visit them at miyacompany.com