Top 5 Chopstick Etiquette Tips

Fun fact - I didn't actually know how to use chopsticks confidently before I moved to Japan. I had never really had to use them and always just fell back to a knife and fork.
Moving to Japan though was a quick crash course in learning how to use them, since a lot of places simply don't have a knife and fork option! In saying that - there's a number of etiquette considerations with chopsticks (just like there are with a knife and fork, of course!) that you need to keep in mind. Here's some of the ones I learned along the way!
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1. Do not leave your chopsticks pointing upright in your rice.

This is a big no-no! The reason it's a no-no is because having chopsticks pointing upright in a bowl of rice is the way rice is offered to the dead in Buddhist funeral practices. Doesn't really get the appetite going, does it?

2. Don't pass food back and forth from one person to another with your chopsticks.

This is something else that has associations with funeral traditions and is heavily frowned upon if you were to do it. Bones of a deceased person are passed with chopsticks in these funeral traditions, so you can see why passing food from person to person with chopsticks might get some uncomfortable looks!

3. If you're somewhere and you're sharing food, don't eat with your chopsticks directly off the communal plate - move the food to your own smaller plate before consuming it.

And even more courteous is to ask for an extra clean pair of chopsticks to get that food off the communal plate to bring to your smaller plate if there are no specific serving utensils present. You'd think it was uncouth if you saw someone using their personal fork that they'd just been eating with to grab food off a communal plate - same goes for chopsticks! No double dipping!

4. If you're somewhere with a chopstick holder, use it!

You'll see in the picture above that there is a chopstick rest - this was from a cooking class I went to. Added bonus: a lot of the chopstick rests are adorable and highly decorative! It's also often suggested that if you are somewhere without a chopstick rest, that you can ultimately make one yourself out of the paper wrapper that most disposable chopsticks come in.

5. Don't cross your chopsticks when they're sitting on the table not in use.

Lay them flat and parallel. Crossing them is another situation that has connotations with death, so to avoid offending anyone just bear that in mind!
Hopefully those are some tips that help you if you're unsure of some of the etiquette behind using chopsticks. There are a number of other things that are also seen as the right way of using them, but to me these 5 are key.

Happy Eating!

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