Learn how to use chopsticks before you go to Japan will save you a lot of trouble – Japan’s being an island country that has fascinating cultures with deep tradition dated back to hundreds of years ago has gone through rapid changes. But one thing that remains unchanged is its deep-rooted etiquette and manners.
Learning how to use chopsticks is not a must for Japanese dining etiquette but it will make you whole travel experience much enjoyable– particularly in formal occasions or even when doing business in Japan.
Follow the following instructions as to how to use chopsticks to impress your friends while enjoying your meal.
- Be respectful with your utensil
Always remember to use both hands to pick up the chopsticks and understand that these are eating utensils. Just like using a spoon or fork, don’t play with them or point at someone while eating. Also, don’t use it as a drumstick and start hitting your bowls and plate as it is extremely rude.
- Do hold your chopsticks correctly
This part really took some time to master but I suggest watching other people and copying their movements to do the trick. You know the saying “practice makes perfect” – The correct way of holding chopsticks is to hold the first chopstick one-third of the way from top with your index and middle finger while supporting it with the tip of your thumb. Then rest the second chopstick against your ring finger and the base of your thumb. The most important thing to remember is that the second chopstick should be stable at all time. Whenever you want to pick up foods, simply move your thumb, index finger and middle finger. It could be really hard at the beginning but you should get as much practice as possible and being patient with yourself.
- Do know where to put your chopsticks
Most of the Japanese restaurants will provide you with a hashi-oki (chopstick rest) – when you're not using the utensils, you should place them onto the rest. However, even if you don’t see any chopsticks holder, you should always put them neatly in front of you. Be creative with your chopstick covers and do a chopsticks holder origami as well. Also, you need to make sure your chopsticks are places horizontally at all time because having your chopsticks pointing at someone is considered rude.
Here is the video showing how to make a chopstick`s rest:
- 立て箸(Tatebashi) Do not stick your chopsticks vertically in your rice
This is absolutely unacceptable because that’s how Japanese offer their rice to their dead ancestors or the spirit of a dead person! Usually, the chopsticks, as well as some other food are offered. A lot of people think that doing such action would bring bad luck to you!
- 刺し箸(Sashibashi) Do not stab food with your chopstick
That’s right! No digging or stabbing of food – always remember that chopsticks are always used together and when you use your chopsticks to stab the food it is considered as very rude.
- 渡し箸(Watashi-bashi) Do not rest chopsticks on your bowl
It literally means a chopsticks bridge in Japanese. By placing it your chopsticks on top of the bowl means that you are not enjoying the food and it could be an insult to many chef. As mentioned above, you should utilize your chopsticks rest at all time.
- 指し箸 (Sashi-bashi) Do place the chopstick down before you start having a conversation!
Do you usually talk with your hands? If that’s you, you should put your chopsticks down before you start waving your utensils in the air. Also, remember that using them to point at someone is considered as bad manners – chopsticks are not weapons!
- 箸渡し (Hashi-watashi) Do not share food by passing from chopsticks to chopsticks
This also resembles their traditional ritual customs during a Japanese funeral when cremated bones are transferred to the urn. As this is considered probably the biggest taboo over the dinner table do try to avoid this all the times.
- - Be respectful with your utensil
- - Do hold your chopsticks correctly
- - Do know where to put your chopsticks
- - 立て箸(Tatebashi) Do not stick your chopsticks vertically in your rice
- - 刺し箸(Sashibashi) Do not stab food with your chopstick
- - 渡し箸(Watashi-bashi) Do not rest chopsticks on your bowl
- - 指し箸 (Sashi-bashi) Do place the chopstick down before you start having a conversation!
- - 箸渡し (Hashi-watashi) Do not share food by passing from chopsticks to chopsticks