Hashioki are made in an endless variety of shapes, as should be readily apparent to anyone who has scrolled through the posts on this blog.
The most basic hashioki shape is a simple rectangle or ingot with a flat bottom.
Many rectangular hashioki have curved tops to keep chopsticks from sliding off, and some have ends with a pronounced curl.
As previously noted, some hashioki are reminiscent of bridges, reflecting the fact that hashi is a homonym for both chopsticks and bridge in Japanese, and stand on little feet like pilings. (See “A hashi for your hashi” post from January 2016.)
Apparently hashioki shaped like makura, or Japanese pillow, where once popular. Makura are hard and rigid, usually made from ceramics or wood, and support the neck instead of the head of the user. “For years, the most commonly used form [for hashioki] was that of the pillow,” writes H. Elliott McClure. “Gradually it came in different colors and patterns, but still retaining the pillow form.”(1) Some ceramic pillows had holes in the sides which could be filled with hot water in winter, as the painted dots on either side of this example suggest.
Some hashioki indicate the place where the tips of the chopsticks should rest,
while some, like this tiny ceramic plate with an attached rabbit, provide a large target area.
Other hashioki envelope chopsticks to keep them from rolling around the table.
Some hashioki do double duty by functioning as a toothpick holder as well as a place for the tips of your chopsticks, like this plastic shamisen, while others provide a place to rest a soup spoons.
But this is just a brief overview. The shape of a hashioki is limited only by the creative mind of its maker and the preference of its user. That is what this blog is all about.
(1) McClure, H. Elliott. “Hashioki: The Art of the Chopstick Rest.” Orientations. June 1979, p. 46.