This small metal cucumber, along with its ceramic cousin below, is a hashioki, or object “to place chopsticks on”. But because it depicts a cucumber, something that is often served pickled during a Japanese meal, it can be considered to be a hashi yasume, which is also translated as “chopsticks rest.”
In Japanese hashi yasume is written as
The first kanji or character above is the symbol for chopsticks (hashi), and is the same kanji that is used in the compound word hashioki (see “What’s in a name” post from January 2016). The remaining characters, read as yasume are a conjugation of the Japanese verb yasumu meaning “to rest or sleep.”
Hashi yasume are tsukemono, or “pickled things” which are served as palate cleansers during a Japanese meal. Technically a person probably uses their chopsticks to move the pickled cucumber or vegetable from a dish to their mouth, but I suppose we could assume that their chopsticks are resting while they chew and digest the hashi yasume. Maybe some people even place their chopstick tips on a hashioki while they enjoy their hashi yasume!
I learned about this different kind of chopstick rest in a post on one of my favorite blogs, Just One Cookbook: Easy Japanese Recipes. Namiko Chen, the creator of Just One Cookbook, is both a talented cook and a talented writer – her posts will make you want to cook her recipes! She also occasionally writes about her travels in Japan. Please follow this link http://www.justonecookbook.com/pickled-cucumber to discover her recipe for hashi yasune tsukemono and more.