I prefer to eat with wooden chopsticks. They tread lightly on the earth, more so than heavy, metallic knives and forks.  The Japanese character for a tree, is the same character used for life. 

Metal on the other hand conjures up mining, locks and cold hearted iron bars.

It is impossible to gobble with chop sticks.  This gives the opportunity to digest food slowly and mindfully.  The arrangement of small amounts of beautiful food, in delicate tiny plates also achieves this end.  It discourages gluttony, you get tired of going back for seconds or thirds on such small platters.

Mindfulness is the current buzz word of the first world.  Mindfulness and humility have long been cornerstones of Japanese life.

I like the Japanese grace.  Itadakimasu is a humble receiving of the food.  It takes into account the chef, the grower and the hunter, also remembering the plant and the animal.  It encompasses self examination.  Am I worthy to eat the meal?  Finally, it gracefully allows me to pick up my chopsticks and begin.

By Jann-Marie Ross

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