I began collecting hashioki (chopstick rests) on our first tour in Japan, in 1980. My friend Kris collected them, and got me started, and also gave me a very good piece of advice: Only collect ones that have blue in them. Otherwise, you will be overwhelmed.
I currently have well over 300 different hashioki in my collection. Most were purchased during our two tours in Japan, but some were gifts and others were found at stores here in the U.S. All of them have some blue in them somewhere. Back when I started collecting, hashioki were very affordable, usually less than a dollar, and rarely more than $2.50. These days one hashioki can be $5.00 or more, so I rarely buy them, even on visits to Japan.
There is no way to describe the variety that can be found in this one small piece of Japanese tableware. If you can think of an animal, real or imagined, there’s probably a hashioki of it. I have whales, octopi, fish, clams, and other sea creatures as well as cats, dogs, and other animals. I have all manner of vegetables, various types of transportation, dishes, books, musical instruments, people, toys . . . anything you can imagine can be found in hashioki. Most of mine are ceramic, but I also have some made from glass, wood and even from paper. My hashioki run the gamut from whimsical to elegant, with everything inbetween.
Currently my collection is in a box in the garage, with each hashioki individually wrapped in tissue paper. Other than putting some out in a basket or such, I have no way to display them, but they would quickly grow very dusty and they’re difficult to keep clean. I’ve seen them displayed in wooden printer’s type cases before, and heard of someone who had a something like a flat file cabinet where each drawer could be pulled out and the hashioki examined, but I currently don’t have the space for either.
In spite of having so many, I do have a favorite. I have all of the ones in the above picture, but the simple black pillow with the blue and white wave design in the middle makes me the happiest of all my hashioki. It’s so very Japanese, in design, color and execution.
And, although I’m not really adding to my collection any more, I would buy the set above in heartbeat. They all picture charming little chidori (plovers) in different designs. Chidori are one of my favorite Japanese motifs of all time, representing longevity and endurance.
You can check out my hashioki page on Pinterest if you’re interested in seeing more – I have over 50% of the ones pictures in my collection.