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Chopsticks were originally kitchen utensils used to keep the fire burning. However, after a heavy taxation on metal materials in the 3rd century, people began using chopsticks to eat directly from their plates. This practice quickly spread to China, Thailand, Vietnam and Korea. Each country gradually adopted its own chopsticks. In Japan, for example, they are known for being slightly shorter than their counterparts, more pointed, and unlike the Chinese square chopsticks, they have a rounded shape and can be made of either wood or steel.