In the Taisho Era (1912-1926), it was common for women to have a variety of chopsticks and cases. Chopstick cases like these were used to carry a pair of Hibashi (chopsticks used to handle the hot, small pieces of charcoal) when attending an incense-burning ceremony. During the event, guests would guess which incense was used from its scent. It was a sophisticated game, quite similar to blind wine tastings.
Women of the era either chose or ordered a variety of chopsticks and cases. Usually, they would have several sets, in the same way we own several purses and bags to match our different attires.
The simple striped design and color palette of this case are exquisite. Inside, there is a pair of portable hibashi made of ivory and steel. The precise engineering of these chopsticks kept the heat insulated so that they would not get hot when handling pieces of charcoal.
It is fun to imagine the refined taste of its previous owner. What else was she wearing as she pulled this case out of her sleeve pocket? These days, incense-burning ceremonies are rarely observed. However, the work can be given a new breath of life as a reusable pair of portable chopsticks. Not just stylish but environmentally friendly too!