• Kyodo

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Lacquered chopsticks from Obama, Fukui Prefecture, were shown Monday at the world expo in Milan. Spectators joined a workshop to get hands-on experience of the techniques involved and made a pair each.

Wakasa lacquered chopsticks — named after Wakasa Bay — are typically decorated with such materials as fragments of eggshell, seashells, leaves and seeds.

Wakasa lacquerware dates back 400 years. Obama accounts for more than 80 percent of all lacquered chopsticks made in Japan.

Since the city shares its name with U.S. President Barack Obama, it sent four pairs of lacquered chopsticks to him and his family as an inaugural gift in 2009.

Obama Mayor Koji Matsuzaki was on hand to welcome visitors to the expo event in Milan.

“Obama is known for its rich culinary culture,” he said. “I hope you will discover the city’s charm.”

Among those taking part in the workshop was a 55-year-old teacher from northern Italy. She said she was happy with the chopsticks she made. She said she thought they were beautiful and she wants to use them at home.

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