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Japanese Chopstick Etiquette


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Eating food with chopsticks are an essential part of Japanese culture and cuisine. While other utensils are used and available, mastering the use of chopsticks is a key part of eating in Japan. Whether a beginner or a novice chopstick user, there are a few things to keep in mind when using chopsticks in Japan. Here are a few helpful tips for understanding Japanese Chopstick Etiquette.

Respect the Chopsticks in Japan

Chopsticks in Japan are used for all meals, and although it is acceptable to ask for a fork, it is always important to respect chopsticks as part of Japanese culture and a way of life. For those who do not know how to use chopsticks, trying to learn is also a sign of respect.

Chopstick Etiquette in Japan

Proper Form – How to hold Chopsticks

While it may appear easy, it actually can take some time to master the art of holding and using chopsticks while eating. It is important to practice and be patient. There are also several ways to hold chopsticks, it can take some time to find what is comfortable. It is also good to take social cues and observe how others around you, or others at the table are holding their chopsticks.

Do not rub chopsticks together

While many believe it is appropriate to rub chopsticks together to eliminate splinters, it is actually a very rude gesture and is seen as an insult. By rubbing chopsticks together, it implied that they are cheap. Even if you are eating in an inexpensive eatery, do not rub the chopsticks together.

Understand sharing manners

When dining in Japan, many dishes are shared. It is very important when sharing to first place food on your own dish, or own bowl before consuming it. It is considered rude to eat directly from the shared plate. When eating with chopsticks, it is also important to remember there is chopstick etiquette when you are not using them. It is also considered rude or impolite to place chopsticks onto the table. Instead, it is best to rest chopsticks on a holder, which is most often provided by a restaurant, or alternatively to place the chopsticks horizontally, over the rice bowl. One important distinction, known as Watashi-bashi , it is considered rude to leave chopsticks over a bowl that still has food in it. Additionally, chopsticks that are not being used must always be laid parallel, as crossed chopsticks symbolic of funeral ceremonies.

Japanese Chopstick Etiquette

It is impolite to lick or dig using chopsticks

Chopsticks should not be used for digging or picking through food. It is a sign of greed and is very impolite to selectively pick food when sharing. Additionally, when finished with chopsticks, they must not be kept inside the mouth. It is considered offensive to lick, bite, suck or play with chopsticks when they are not being used to eat.

Chopsticks for soup

Since chopsticks are used for all dining, including soup, it can take some finesse to properly eat soup. If the soup has noodles, the chopsticks can be used to bring the noodles towards your mouth, from the bowl. Soups are also served with a spoon, which is used from the brother. Using both the spoon together with the chopsticks will ensure ease when eating soups. It is also acceptable to slurp the broth and noodles when eating with chopsticks.

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