Japanese Chopstick Etiquette: Dos and Don’ts You Should Keep In Mind When Using Chopsticks
Chopsticks are symbolically and culturally significant in Japan and are used to eat everything from salad to rice, noodles, and more!
Japan is known for its complex dining etiquette. There are some good and bad customs associated with chopsticks—and one should learn good chopstick etiquette and avoid the taboos. Once you learn the basics, you can proceed to the more complex etiquette—gaining knowledge about the art of dining, prevalent in Japan. Let us look at some dos and don’ts you should keep in mind—when eating with chopsticks.
Don’t play with chopsticks.
You may be new to using chopsticks, but it is essential to respect all cultures. Using your chopsticks to spin, tap or play drums is considered rude.
Do use a "hashi-ok" or chopstick rest
Do not place chopsticks on the bowl or a plate like a "bridge" because it is bad etiquette. Use the hashi-oki (chopstick rest) provided. If there is no chopstick bag or hashi-ok, and the food is served on a square or circular tray, you can place your chopsticks on the left-hand end of the plate or tray, but make sure that the tips of the chopsticks remain hung on it.
Don’t poke your food.
Do not poke your food with chopsticks. If you want to check if the food is adequately cooked—request the host to offer you a knife to feed your curiosity. Poking your food with chopsticks will indicate that you lack basic table etiquette.
Don’t use your chopsticks to pass food to another.
If you wish to share food, you may consider passing it from your chopsticks to someone else’s chopsticks. But this dining practice is considered taboo because the Japanese funeral custom of passing the bones of the departed is carried out in this fashion. If you want to pass or share your food with chopsticks—directly place it on their plate.
Don’t put chopsticks in your mouth.
While chopsticks are meant to carry the food to your mouth—ideally, they should never go inside your mouth. In addition, do not lick them or use your tongue to remove food residue stuck to them. Putting chopsticks in your mouth is bad manners, as is using them to pick your teeth or chewing on them.
Don’t place the chopsticks in an “X” shape.
When using chopsticks, you should never keep them in an “X” shape. In Chinese culture, crossed chopsticks symbolize death—while in Japan, it is not associated with death, but is considered rude to cross them. Always place them in a parallel position.
When using this complex eating apparatus, make sure you are doing it correctly.