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Shamoji are traditionally made from bamboo, wood, or lacquer, and nowadays often from plastic. The shamoji is dipped in water frequently during use to prevent rice from sticking to it. Some expensive plastic shamoji have non-stick surfaces. Metal is rarely used, as this is more likely to cut rice grains or to damage the hangiri wooden tub traditionally used for mixing.
It is said to have been first devised by a monk on Itsukushima, Hiroshima Prefecture.
Modern rice cookers may include a shamoji in the box, usually made of white plastic.
The shamoji has also been a symbol of unity between the mother and wife in Japanese society. In traditional times, it passed down from one generation to the next to symbolize the handing down of family duties.