[Cheemchi Academy] Chopstick Lesson 2.1 : Japanese etiquette

Hello again and welcome to another chopstick lesson. Today we’re going to talk about Japanese chopstick etiquette ( more a fancy word for how not to be rude). The Japanese etiquette does also apply to the Chinese etiquette and the Korean etiquette but there are also some differences between them, but that is for another lesson.

So the Japanese chopsticks differ slightly from Chinese chopsticks and need to be more formally handled: don’t wander around with your chopsticks.

In Japan most of the time you have pickled vegetables (tsukemono) with your main dish. The tsukemono is usually served in a small dish or bowl and will often come with their own pair of serving chopsticks. Use them to transfer the tsukemono and not your chopsticks. This way , the strong flavor of the pickles will not affect the other food you might pick up with your chopstick.


Tsukemono_by_clanchou_in_Hakone,_Kanagawapickled vegatables (tsukemono)


If you have chopsticks within a paper wrapper, then you should follow this.

Slide the chopsticks out, and lay them carefully on the right side of your plate. With your wrapper you should make a chopsticks rest if there isn’t one. There are various ways to do that, but that is for another lesson, so here is a link where you can see how to make one.

The main point for this is that the food-stained ends of your chopsticks never touch the table.

An important point about using Japanese chopsticks is that they need to be separated at the connected blunt end. So when you have created your paper chopstick rest, pick up your chopsticks and hold them over your lap ( this to avoid splinters in your food)  and snap them apart like a wishbone. Don’t rub them, this is considered as rude because this will mean that the chopsticks were cheap.

Use chopsticks for soup, for rice , almost everything on your plate , no matter how small, round , or difficult. Never use your fingers ( sushi is the only exception). If you pick up sushi with chopsticks, it is impossible to dip the fish-side into the soy sauce. Pick up the sushi with your hand and dip it, fish-side down, into the soya sauce.

In Japan, and throughout all chopstick cultures, never cross your chopsticks like an X as this symbolizes death, or vertically stuck in the rice, which is done during a funeral. Never rest them on separate sides of the plate, and never ever use them to point at things. Never use them to spear food.

Never stick your chopsticks into your rice so that they stand upright, it’s the way a bowl of rice is offered to the spirit of a dead person, at their deathbed or in front of their photograph on the household Buddhist altar.



When you’re eating soup, you use the chopsticks to lift solid foods out of the soup bowl and into you mouth. When you’re finished with the food you drink straight out from the bowl. Hold the bowl with two hands at your lips, and drink the broth like a cup of tea.

As for rice, do not shovel food directly from your rice bowl into your mouth.

You should pick up your rice in morsels (Japanese rice is sticky enough to allow this) and bring it up to your mouth

Use your chopsticks to cut up pieces of food, if necessary; remember, the meat or fish is marinated before cooking, so it will be easy to break up the flesh with the chopsticks: there will be no need for knives. Certain foods, like soups, are served in bowls with lids on them: it is important at the end of the meal to place the lid back on top of the bowl when you are finally finished.

Do not pass food from chopstick to chopstick and do not use unmatched chopsticks. These thing are connected to funerals or death

And after your meal , if you eat with waribashi ( disposable chopsticks), they should be replaced into the wrapper.

There a more no-no’s and thing you should do but this a little summary of it. I hope you learned something and see you next lesson!

Written by Charlotte


Korea & Japan Lover. Princess of the internetshops, waiting for a crown ( and prince charming)

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