Hibashi chopstick (火箸)

Hibashi chopstick is a Japanese tool. Most of them are made of iron, and are designed to handle charcoal in a brazier or fire box.

When braziers or irori fire places were widely used, Hibashi chopsticks were common tools you could see in any home in Japan. A Hibashi chopstick consists of two iron sticks narrow at the points, and is about 25 centimeters to 40 centimeters long. It is used to add some charcoal to a fire or to control a fire. The back end of the Hibashi chopstick comes in a variety of forms: rounded shape; copper nail-like shape; one fitted with a ring by splitting or wrapping.

There was a custom of thrusting two Hibashi chopsticks into ash crossing them over each other when covering a brazier fire with ash to put it out. It is a kind of a charm for preventing fires. As the chances of using charcoal fires decreased, Hibashi chopsticks gradually disappeared from daily life except for occasions like Japanese tea ceremony.

However, you can still see some for elegant pursuits as wind chimes, which consist of several Hibashi chopsticks hanging. The MYOCHIN family in Himeji City has been keeping up the iron-processing technique as an armorer since the Sengoku Period (Period of Warring States in Japan) and makes wind chimes with better sound by using Tamahagane (gem steel) which is the original material of Japanese swords. The sound is sampled for music by Isao TOMITA, or used for testing audio equipment made by SONY.

[Original Japanese]