Japan gives you the chance to create more than just memories. You can actually make your own chopsticks! Here you’ll find out more about how chopsticks are made, and the best places in Tokyo and Kyoto where you can make your own. Let’s go!

What Chopsticks Really Mean in Japanese Culture

Chopsticks are utensils to eat, yes, but they’re also cultural icons deeply rooted in the history and traditions of Japan. Originating more than a thousand years ago, chopsticks have evolved in design and utility, but their core significance as a symbol of etiquette, dexterity, and aesthetic values remains unchanged.

If you eat with Japanese people and use chopsticks, you will probably even hear them complimenting your chopstick skills, proud that a foreigner can use their utensils with dexterity.

In fact, chopsticks are so integral to Japanese dining that they have their own set of customs and manners, known as “Chopstick Etiquette”. Making your own chopsticks is a fun way to connect to this cultural heritage.

How to Make Your Own Chopsticks: The Process

When it comes to making chopsticks, the choice of wood is crucial. Popular options include bamboo, cypress, or oak. But there are many more, each offering its unique texture and aesthetic appeal.

The process generally involves 1. selecting a wood block, 2. cutting it into shape, 3. sanding the surface, and finally, 4. applying a layer of protective coating or lacquer.

This activity is pretty beginner-friendly, but don’t think it will be easy. I actually almost transformed my chopsticks into toothpicks when I did it at Mogami Kogei workshop (read my review here)! Fortunately my instructor fixed my mistakes and I could leave with beautiful chopsticks.

Here is a video I made about my experience:

@yavajapan

I think i just found the ultimate souvenir to bring back from Japan😳 Mogami-san was such a kind soul, honestly the experience is as much talking and learning from him as it is about making chopsticks 😌 Mogami-san’s English is not bad but limited so we had an (amazing) guide with us translating and helping us discuss with the master ✌️ Honestly it was the best workshop I’ve done so far in Japan, really impressed👌 If you want to do it when you’re in Tokyo you need to book ahead inline, the website name is Wabunka #japantravel #tokyotravel #handwork #woodworking #chopsticks #japanthingstodo

♬ original sound – yavajapan

But even for those like me who are not good at manual work, participating in a chopstick-making workshop allows you to learn these skills from experienced artisans while also giving you the creative freedom to design customized chopsticks that are uniquely yours.

This hands-on approach to embracing Japanese culture doesn’t stop with chopsticks. If you’re intrigued by traditional craftsmanship, explore how you can also make your own knife in Japan, another way to connect with Japan’s deep artisanal heritage.

Where Can You Make Your Own Chopsticks in Tokyo?

Here are the top workshops where you can have a chopstick-making experience in Tokyo and around, that you can book online:

Workshop NameLocationPriceUnique FeaturesReservation Link
Mogami KogeiKuramae, Tokyo¥20,000/person
($125/person)
Private group (only your group)
An interpreter will accompany you
– Duration: 1h30 minutes
– Ideally located in central Tokyo
– Learn from master craftsman Yutaka Mogami, one of the only one in Japan
– Lesson and talk on the history and craft of Edo sashimono woodworking
– Get a handmade chopstick box made in high quality Aizu paulownia wood to take your chopsticks home
Wabunka
Karaki MokkoKawagoe, Saitama (1h from Tokyo)¥1,650/person
($11/person)
+ additional fees based on the wood chosen to make the chopsticks
– English instructions are available, but staff may have limited English proficiency
– Choose from 16 different types of wood
– Duration: 30 minutes
Jalan (in Japanese only), or Walk-in

My recommendation:

If you have the budget, go with Mogami Kogei. I went there and I absolutely loved it. This is by far the best chopstick-making experience you will find in Tokyo.

It is more expensive, but having this private experience with a master craftsman who dedicated his life to his art is definitely worth it. You will also be accompanied by an interpreter, so that you can ask questions and communicate with master craftsman Mogami-san (one of the ten last Edo Sashimono woodworking craftsmen in Tokyo) on a whole different level.

It will be a much more unique experience, which is worth taking into account since a chopstick-making experience is probably something you’ll do only once in your life.

You can read my full report about this experience here.

Chopstick-making experience in Mogami Kogei workshop in Kuramae, Tokyo
Posing proudly with our finished chopsticks

If you’re on a budget and are not worried about going through a Japanese website for the booking process (or just walk-in the store and book your 30-minute session), then go for Karaki Mokko in Kawagoe. It won’t be as memorable – you will be in a crowded shop and a staff person will give you basic instructions – but you’ll still have a good time making your own handmade personalized chopsticks. Be aware that English may be limited.

Where Can You Make Your Own Chopsticks in Kyoto?

With its rich history of traditional crafts, Kyoto offers a more extensive range of chopstick-making workshops compared to Tokyo:

Workshop NameLocationPriceUnique FeaturesReservation Link
Takano ChikkoNagaokakyo City, Kyoto¥38,000/person
($240/person)
Private group (only your group)
An interpreter will accompany you
– Duration: 1h30 minutes
– Make bamboo chopsticks
– Visit a bamboo garden and learn from a professional bamboo harvester
– Eat Japanese confectionery and drink matcha tea in artisanal bamboo dishware
– Take home your chopsticks and a chopstick rest made of bamboo
Wabunka
Marumasu-NishimurayaNakagyo Ward, Kyoto¥3,500/person
($22/person)
– Available in English
– Duration: 2h
– Decorate a small chopstick bag to take your chopsticks home
Wamazing
Kyomachiya Workshop WarakuHigashiyama, Kyoto¥3,300/person
($21/person)
English might be limited
– Duration: 1h
– Material: bamboo
– The workshop is in a 120 years old Machiya (traditional wooden townhouse)
– Located in traditional district Higashiyama
Activity Japan
(machine-translated English)
Yokoyama Bamboo StoreKamigyo, Kyoto¥4,400/person
($28/person)
– Available in English
– Duration: 2h
– Material: bamboo
– Get a case to take your chopsticks home
Activity Japan
(machine-translated English)

My recommendation:

If your budget allows, Takano Chikko will offer you the best experience. You’ll be able to dive deep into the art of using bamboo as an artisanal material. It’s perfect if you’re deeply interested in artisanal art, or if you’re looking for a deep connection with Japanese artisans.

Two people talking during a bamboo chopstick-making workshop in Kyoto
Takano Chikko workshop in Kyoto. Photo credit: Wabunka

As for a budget-friendly options, Kyomachiya Workshop Waraku ideally sits in Kyoto’s traditional Higashiyama district, offering an authentic chopstick-making setting that likely aligns with what you’re imagining. However, be mindful that English proficiency there may be limited.

If language is a concern, I’d suggest opting for Marumasu-Nishimuraya or Yokoyama Bamboo Store, as both provide similar but more English-friendly experiences.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Can Kids Participate in Chopstick-Making Workshops?

Absolutely, chopstick-making can be a family-friendly activity! However, it’s best to double-check age restrictions or guidelines when you book.

Is There a Dress Code for These Workshops?

Generally, there’s no dress code, but comfortable and casual attire is usually recommended.

How Long Does a Typical Chopstick-Making Class Last?

Most workshops last between one to two hours. The duration can vary based on the complexity of the design and the pace of the class.

Do I Need to Book in Advance?

While some workshops may accept walk-ins, it’s generally advisable to book in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons.

Can I Personalize My Chopsticks?

Yes, many workshops allow you to personalize your chopsticks, either by carving initials, adding decorations, or choosing specific types of wood.

Final Words

Making your own chopsticks is such a cool, off-the-beaten-path experience, and you get a functional souvenir to bring home. Only downside is, you’ll want to eat sushi all the time back home just so that you can show off your handmade chopsticks!

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