6 Dos and Don’ts to Use Chopsticks in Japan!

6 Dos and Don'ts to Use Chopsticks in Japan!

It is now pretty common to use chopsticks outside of Asia, so probably most of you have no problem using them. But is it really the right way to use them in Japan? Do you know that each Asian country has its own style of chopsticks and their own way of using them? In order to enjoy the Japanese cuisine at its best, I will give you the dos and don’ts of how to use chopsticks in Japan.



 

6 Dos and Don’ts to Use Chopsticks in Japan!

 

1. Place them in the correct direction

In Japan, chopsticks are placed horizontally unlike knives and forks. First it might feel a little awkward, but you will get used to it since the chopsticks are served on a little plate called “hashioki,” literally meaning the place to put chopsticks. When it’s served, don’t move it, but move your chopsticks to place them on this little plate. Also note that the thinner part should always be on this plate. This is where the chopsticks are placed always; in other words, don’t leave them on the plate while you are eating.

 

2. Use the two sticks together

Although many westerners now are used to using chopsticks, I still see some people still using one stick on the right hand and another on the left hand, as you would do with a knife and a fork. This can be overlooked if you are in your country, but I recommend you to start using the chopsticks together if you have a plan to come to Japan. But you might wonder “how can I cut food into pieces if I use them together?” Don’t worry because usually food is cooked enough that if you place the chopsticks, it will break easily into pieces.

 

3. Pick them but don’t prick them

This is a no-no that we Japanese are taught as kids when we first start using chopsticks. The correct way to use them is to hold the food between the two sticks. Yes, it requires a little training at first, but even as kids we were able to succeed. The good news is that in Japan it is allowed to lift the plate close to your mouth. If you are afraid of dropping the food, this is the way to avoid the danger.

 

4. Use the common chopsticks when sharing a plate

In Japan, it is common and also considered a sign of closeness to share a dish. For example, when you dine out with friends and order a plate of salad, it is usually served in a big plate that will be enough for a few people. You will take your share from this big plate into a small plate served for each person, but when you do, use the common chopsticks. The chopsticks you have are for you to eat, and for sharing there usually is another pair of chopsticks. If the common chopsticks are not there, be polite and ask if you can use your own to take your share into your little plate.

 

5. Never deliver food from one pair of chopsticks to another

This is a religious taboo in Japan since this method of using chopsticks is only done at funerals to place the bones of dead into the designated box. So what do we do when you want to offer your friend a piece of what you have on your plate? Place the food on a little plate and hand it over. It is the smart and elegant way of passing food.

 

6. Manners are universal

Yes, there are different manners in different countries, but the basics are the same. Don’t make a squeak with your cutlery, don’t point others with knives and forks, don’t lick the sauce left on your fork, etc. These all apply to chopsticks. Manners are to avoid others to feel uncomfortable. Thus western manners can be applied even when our utensils to eat are different.

 

Conclusion

Of course, the manners are important, but the most important thing is to enjoy your meal. If you enjoy your meal and show respect to others and the culture, most of the things will be overlooked. Don’t worry too much about the manners, but don’t forget to say “oishii (delicious)” if you like the food!

 

6 Dos and Don’ts to Use Chopsticks in Japan!

1. Place them in the correct direction
2. Use the two sticks together
3. Pick them but don’t prick them
4. Use the common chopsticks when sharing a plate
5. Never deliver food from one pair of chopsticks to another
6. Manners are universal